Spanish Armada

Spanish Armada
Part of the Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) and the Eighty Years' War
Invincible Armada.jpg
The Spanish Armada and English ships in August 1588, (unknown, 16th-century, English School)
DateJuly–August 1588
North-west Europe

Decisive Spanish defeat[1][2][3]

 Kingdom of England
 Dutch Republic
Estandarte Real de Felipe II.svg Iberian Union (Habsburg Spain)
Commanders and leaders
England Lord Howard of Effingham
England Francis Drake
England John Hawkins
Dutch Republic Justinus van Nassau
Estandarte Real de Felipe II.svg Duke of Medina Sidonia
Estandarte Real de Felipe II.svg Juan Martínez de Recalde
Duchy of Parma Duke of Parma
34 warships[11]
163 armed merchant vessels
(30 over 200 tons)[11]
30 flyboats
22 galleons of Portugal and Castile,
108 armed merchant vessels (including 4 war galleasses of Naples)[12]
2,431 artillery pieces[13][14]
7,000 sailors
17,000 soldiers (90 percent were Spaniards, and 10 percent were Portuguese)[15]
Casualties and losses
Battle of Gravelines:
50–100 dead[16]
400 wounded
8 fireships burnt[17]
6,000–8,000 dead
Battle of Gravelines:
Over 600 dead
800 wounded[18]
397 captured
5 ships sunk or captured[19]
~35 ships lost[20][21] (10 scuttled)[22]
20,000 dead[23][24]

The Spanish Armada (Spanish: Grande y Felicísima Armada, literally "Great and Most Fortunate Navy") was a Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from A Coruña in late May 1588, under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, with the purpose of escorting an army from Flanders to invade England. The strategic aim was to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I and her establishment of Protestantism in England, with the expectation that this would put a stop to English interference in the Spanish Netherlands and to the harm caused to Spanish interests by English and Dutch privateering.

The Armada chose not to attack the English fleet at Plymouth, then failed to establish a temporary anchorage in the Solent, after one Spanish ship had been captured by Sir Francis Drake in the English Channel. The Armada finally dropped anchor off Calais.[25] While awaiting communications from the Duke of Parma's army, the Armada was scattered by an English fireship attack. In the ensuing Battle of Gravelines the Spanish fleet was damaged and forced to abandon its rendezvous with Parma's army, who were blockaded in harbour by Dutch flyboats. The Armada managed to regroup and, driven by southwest winds, withdrew north, with the English fleet harrying it up the east coast of England. The commander ordered a return to Spain, but the Armada was disrupted during severe storms in the North Atlantic and a large number of the vessels were wrecked on the coasts of Scotland and Ireland. Of the initial 130 ships over a third failed to return.[26] As Martin and Parker explain, "Philip II attempted to invade England, but his plans miscarried, partly because of his own mismanagement, unfortunate weather, and partly because the opportunistic defensive naval efforts of the English and their Dutch allies (the use of ships set afire and sailed into the anchored Armada to create panic) prevailed."[27].

The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604). The following year, England organised a similar large-scale campaign against Spain, the English Armada or "counter-Armada of 1589", which was also unsuccessful.


The word armada is from the Spanish armada, which is a cognate with English army. Originally from the Latin armāta, the past participle of armāre (to arm), used in Romance languages as a noun, for armed force, army, navy, fleet.[28] Armada Española is still the Spanish term for the modern Spanish Navy. Armada (originally from its armadas) was also the Portuguese traditional term (now alternative, but in common use) of the Portuguese Navy.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Spaanse Armada
한국어: 무적함대
Bahasa Indonesia: Armada Spanyol
Bahasa Melayu: Armada Sepanyol
မြန်မာဘာသာ: စပိန်ရေတပ်ကြီး
Nederlands: Spaanse Armada
português: Invencível Armada
Simple English: Spanish Armada
سنڌي: آرميڊا
српски / srpski: Шпанска армада
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Španska armada
українська: Іспанська Армада
吴语: 无敌舰队