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.’
. 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’
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.’
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.
A Necessary Quarrel: England and the Spanish Armada,
(Yale University Press, New Haven1956) P. 94.
England and the Spanish Armada,
D.L Jensen, The Spanish Armada: The Worst-Kept Secret in Europe
, The Sixteenth Century Journal
, Vol. 19, No. 4 (1988) P. 623.