England and Spain had been at war for several years when in
1588 a mighty fleet sailed
from Spain to conquer England. On that occasion the Island was saved by her
ships and brave seamen.
The Spanish Armada, which was composed of 130 ships, sailed up the Channel to meet the English fleet which was waiting at Plymouth.
The English ships were as numerous as the Spanish galleons but the former were smaller than the latter and therefore they could steer more rapidly to escape the enemy’s fire. Moreover, the English were led by Lord Howard of Effingham and by many famous seamen such as Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins.
The two fleets fought against one another for nine days but in the end the Spaniards had to take shelter in Calais. There they were attacked by six English ships loaded with gun powder and sent to drift among the enemy fleet. The final battle was fought off Gravelines where most Spanish ships were destroyed by the English and the others were driven away by a strong south-west wind. Spain was no longer a sea power.