Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Threat Posed by the Spanish Armada

The Threat Posed by the Spanish Armada

Ratings: (0)|Views: 72 |Likes:
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Bridget O Riordan. Originally submitted for Ireland, Europe and the Wider World at University College Cork, with lecturer David Edwards in the category of Historical Studies
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Bridget O Riordan. Originally submitted for Ireland, Europe and the Wider World at University College Cork, with lecturer David Edwards in the category of Historical Studies

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

10/27/2013

 
The Threat Posed by the Spanish Armada
The year was 1588 and as each month passed by the fearful eyes of every Englishman, manywere left wondering of a certain arrival; the coming of the Spanish Armada had been longapproaching. Under the ruling of Philip II, the Duke of Medina Sidonia began to lead thefinal assembled fleet towards England in an attempt to master the kingdom. In the case thatthis may not be possible, three concessions were to be forcibly made by Queen Elizabeth; theincreased toleration of Catholicism, the surrender of all Dutch territories from England andthe retrieval of war indemnities. At a time when Europe acted as the main stage for thegreatest international race the world had seen yet, was it possible for Philip II to accomplishsuch a quest and knock England out of this very race? In order to determine the severity of such a threat it is necessary to look at it from various angles. It has been stated that ‘if we areto make an accurate and realistic evaluation of the Armada project, we must remember thestrengths as well as the weaknesses’
1
.If they were to successfully land on English soil, there were several advantages to aid theArmada in their attack. Across England stood poor fortifications that greatly weakened what protection they had against possible attacks. These fortifications would do very little towithstand the Duke of Parma and his army. They were greatly decayed and reduced to be of little use in future battles. The ‘fortifications of most places in Elizabethan England, indeed,were extremely poor’
2
. The southeast in particular was clearly not ‘capable of withstanding aheavy battery’
3
. Evidently this must have greatened the threat the Armada posed againstEngland.
1
G. Parker,
 If the Armada Had Landed,
Vol. 61, No. 203, (1976),
 
P. 368.
2
Parker,
 If the Armada Had Landed,
P. 361.
3
Ibid
1
 
Another factor, which would have raised the threat of the Armada’s forthcoming invasion,was that the number of Catholics currently present in England was unknown. Furthermore,their location and their level of willingness to revolt if an opportunity did arise wereunknown. Though the government of the Catholic Church was no longer functioning inEngland; throughout the parishes, however, ‘a significant, if variable, degree of affection for the roman rite remained.’
4
. They still struggled to remove ‘popish’ images and practicesthroughout England. The threat of a revolt from these Catholics upon this potential Spanishinvasion was obviously high. What reinforced these fears and reservations, were the revoltsundertaken in the North and in Ireland. These ‘doubts regarding the innate loyalties of ‘Roman’ Englishmen, intensified by the Northern Rising’
5
and such uncertainties cannot beignored when calculating the overall threat held by the Armada. Parma could have greatlyexploited his conquests and used this possibility of another Catholic rising in the north or inIreland to his advantage. In this regard, the English had every right to feel threatened.In addition to this the high level of uncertainty that swept the English nation in relation to theArmada’s agenda, put England at a colossal disadvantage. England’s preparation for thisattack would obviously prove difficult when ‘even the best informed sources were not reallysure of the purpose, nature, size, time, or destination of the Armada.’
6
During March of 1586Elizabeth herself went so far as to send one of several secret agents to investigate anydevelopments made by the Armada, however nothing could be exposed. Even the Venetianambassadors who were the best-informed observers at this time struggled in making anydiscoveries. Not knowing the intentions of the Armada made it difficult for the English asthey did not know which area needed the greatest protection, England, Ireland or Scotland.
4
J. McDermott,
 A Necessary Quarrel: England and the Spanish Armada,
(Yale University Press, New Haven1956) P. 94.
5
McDermott,
 England and the Spanish Armada,
P. 97.
6
D.L Jensen, The Spanish Armada: The Worst-Kept Secret in Europe
 , The Sixteenth Century Journal 
, Vol. 19, No. 4 (1988) P. 623.
2
 
With little evidence to go by, England was forced to scatter its troops and artillery across allits lands. While rumours continued to spread across Europe with increasing speed, the threatheld by the Armada was also rising.The fact that the Armada’s cause was becoming somewhat justified, also drasticallyamplified this threat. Mary, Queen of Scots wrote a now famous letter which outlined her ‘intention to disinherit her son if he refused to return to the Catholic worship, and granting toPhilip II by formal will her rights to the throne of England’
7
. This proved to be a rather immense justification for an invasion of England. Perhaps Elizabeth herself was beginning tofeel the ever-rising threat of the Spanish Armada when she decided to have Mary beheaded.In stark contrast, there were many factors during the sixteenth century that indicated that anythreat held by the Spanish Armada was at best a weak one. The first of these was the snail-like pace at which the Armada progressed. It has been said in the past that ‘the Spanish, fromthinking too much, often miss their opportunity
8
. It was widely known that Philip II preferred ruling mainly from his desk. All issues concerning the Armada had to pass throughhim before any decisions could be made. Communication between significant leaders of theArmada proved to be too slow at times and this put the threat of the entire project at a greatdisadvantage. The English grew in confidence as further time was given to prepare for suchan invasion. Any threat the Spanish held would obviously decrease if further time passedwith very little action taking place. When the leaders of the Armada pushed the decisionmaking process, ‘Philip’s response was always “we’ll wait and see”’
9
. It has been suspectedthat the letter crafted by Mary, Queen of Scots may have been a desperate attempt ‘to prod
7
Jensen, The Worst-Kept Secret in Europe, P. 631.
8
Jensen, The Worst-Kept Secret in Europe, P. 626.
9
Jensen, The Worst-Kept Secret in Europe, P. 632.
3

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->