The Spanish Armada

In 1588, which fleet of naval ships launched an attack on England?

And the answer is: The Spanish Armada.

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The enormous fleet of 130 ships was sent by King Philip II of Spain, to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and her establishment of Protestantism in England. The Royal Navy of England was much smaller and maneuvered more easily, ultimately defeating the Spanish Armada.

King Philip's attack on Queen Elizabeth is a story that runs a bit deeper (and a bit more personal) than initially meets the eye. Before the mutual animosity between Queen Elizabeth and King Philip grew to culminate in the Spanish Armada attack, King Philip was married to Queen Elizabeth's half-sister, Mary. The two reinforced the other's firm beliefs in Catholicism even as the rest of England began to shift toward embracing the new Protestant tradition. Four years later, Queen Mary was dead and Philip's eyes were set on the throne. Convinced that his rule in England would strengthen relations between European nations and decrease France's power the global stage, he proposed marriage to Queen Elizabeth. To his great chagrin, she denied.

The battle was the ultimate test to opposing religious beliefs, European competition, and England's defense. Queen Elizabeth herself attended on the day of the attack, dressed in military regalia. She inspired her troops with a rousing speech, excerpted below. In the end, England's win against the Spanish Armada was momentous.

"I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field." (x)

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