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8th of August










August 08

In 1588 the naval battle of Gravelines took place where England defeated the Spanish Armada once and for all.


In 1588 King Phillip had amassed a naval fleet called the ‘Spanish Armada’ which had one purpose


This fleet of 130 ships, 2,500 guns and 30,000 men was believed to be invincible and was tasked with controlling the English Channel and invading England. But because of the success of Drake’s mission the fleet didn’t set sail until this day in 1588. 


On the 21st of July (30th of July Gregorian calendar) 1588 the mighty Spanish fleet was within range of the smaller English Naval fleet which was under the command of Drake. The Spanish Armada made a seven mile long line of ships and was a sight not before seen in Naval warfare but the English guns had superior rang. Under Drakes command they began bombarding the ships and over the next few days the advancing Armada was being pounded by the English Navy. One week after the first shots were fired, on the 28th of July (7th of August Gregorian calendar), the Spanish Armada retreated to France and the safety of Calais. But the Royal Navy pursued the fleet and on the 29th of July (8th of August Gregorian calendar) the Battle of Gravelines took place. When English fire-ships headed towards the Spanish line they scattered. The wind was on the side of the English fleet providing strong acceleration towards the Spanish fleet that was being forced towards the shore. The Spanish fleet had also used much of their heavy firepower in the previous engagement and so their strength would lie in their superior man-power. When the English ships got close enough the Spaniards would board them and take control or use their abundant smaller arms to shoot all on board. However the English knew that their best chance was their remaining heavy cannon and with the wind on their backs the English ships opened fire as soon as they were in range with deadly force. The Spanish lost five ships and several others were severely damaged. Although the English won the battle they were in a position to destroy the Armada but instead they ended their attack. This allowed the remaining armada to head north which still posed a threat to England.


But a small Dutch fleet met with the Armada near the Netherlands and drove the fleet back towards the pursuing English. The English continued the assault and the Spanish fleet fled for Scotland. The great Armada returned to Spain by October 1588, via Ireland, but with only half the ships.