The Spanish Armada

426 years ago today the Spanish Armada were first spotted off the coast of Britain. Here’s the top five facts about everybody’s favourite armada.

1. It was all about Holland…
At the time of the Armada, Spain had recently acquired lands in the Low Countries which were now called ‘The Spanish Netherlands.’ Despite this, King Philip II got wind of the English spreading protestant ideas to the area and was determined to stop it.

2…and religion
Elizabeth I had established a protestant regime in England at the time of the Armada. This was in contrast to the previous Ruler, Mary I Catholic Regime. Being a Catholic country, Spain wanted Catholicism back in England further fuelling their attack.

3.Fighting ships and cargo ships
Not all of the armada were huge, grand galleons. In fact only 22 of the 130 ships were fighting vessels. The rest were converted merchant ships containing supplies for the journey and potential land skirmishes.

4. English communications
One of the most iconic images of the time was not the Armada itself, but the complex system of beacons the English set up as a communication system across the coastline. When the Armada was spotted a beacon was lit and this spread until it reached London.

5. It was all part of a larger war
The armada was not a one off skirmish and was part of amuck bigger campaign. Although never officially declared, the Anglo-Spanish war ended in a stalemate after 19 years of war.