Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Guy Who Beat The Spanish Armada For Queen Elizabeth

No, not Drake. Without this other chap he might never have bowled again.
From Delancey Place:

Queen Elizabeth Faces the Spanish Armada 
Today's selection -- from The Armada by Garrett Mattingly.
The decisive 1588 naval battle between England and Spain and its vaunted Armada showed England to be a world class power and contributed to Spain's decline from its status as Europe's greatest power:

"Englishmen who knew most about [a potential war with Spain], however, never believed that it would come to a fight by land. Slowly, over the years, the English had become conscious that they were guarded by the sea and the sea was theirs to guard. The progress of the Hundred Years' War and its end had heightened that consciousness. Henry VIII in spending more money on ships of war than any other king in Europe was building on a tradition already established. The loss of Calais and the growing enmity with Spain sharpened still further the sense of depending on the sea, and by 1588 Elizabeth I was the mistress of the most powerful navy Europe had ever seen. Its backbone was eighteen powerful galleons, the smallest of three hundred tons, built and armed in a new fashion and capable of outsailing and outfighting any possible enemies afloat. There were also seven smaller galleons of one hundred tons or more, and an adequate number of seagoing pinnaces, light, fast, handy craft, useful for scouting, carrying dispatches and inshore work.
The Swallowe listed as one of the queen's ships of
308 tons during the preparations for the Armada campaign.
"The fighting ships, the galleons, were built for war not commerce and so with a keel longer in proportion to their beam than was usual in merchant vessels. This type, wherever it was first developed (Portugal perhaps), by 1570 was the normal warship of Atlantic waters. But the queen's galleons were different, For ten years her zealous servant John Hawkins had been in charge of building and repairing her fleet and Hawkins was a man with advanced ideas about war at sea. He wanted his galleons even longer for their width and so capable of mounting more guns, and of sailing nearer the wind. He wanted the deep waist decked over. The sailors stationed there might feel naked and exposed when, instead of being sheltered behind a wooden wall which rose above their heads, they found the bulwark stopping at their middles, but the extra deck space made room for still more broadside guns. And because he believed in fighting with the big guns instead of boarding, Hawkins wanted the towering castles bow and stern reduced so drastically in size that old-fashioned captains who valued the high-built castles 'for their majesty and terror' complained that he was abolishing them altogether. If he bothered to reply, Hawkins might have answered that the upper decks of the castles could mount only light, secondary batteries, bases and slings and other such man-killing pieces, while the lofty superstructures impaired a ship's sailing qualities and caused excessive rolling.

Whether he replied or not, Hawkins had his way. In the years of his administration all the queen's new ships were built on the sleek clean lines he favored, and almost all the older ships were rebuilt to match them. The result was a fighting fleet, faster and more weatherly than any that had ever been seen on the ocean before....

Hawkins was a slave trader from 1562 to 1567 and as more of that history comes to light he and cousin Drake appear to be nastier and nastier specimens.