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1597 - The Spanish invasion fleet catches England off guard


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1597: England was spared a Spanish invasion at Falmouth by the intervention of the weather. For the third time a huge Armada had been assembled, with over 140 ships carrying 9,000 men. The best of the English fleet was absent under the Earl of Essex, engaged in fruitless patrolling off the Azores hoping to catch the Spanish silver convoy from the West Indies, and the approach of the Armada was quite unsuspected in England. Fortunately, a gale caught Don Martin de Padilla's ships some thirty miles (48km) off the Lizard, scattering the fleet and sinking 28 of his ships. The first inkling the English had of their close escape was when one of the Spanish ships was forced to come into port at St Ives - even worse, it transpired that her master had previously spent three years on reconnaissance around the English coast helping plan the invasion. The episode helped secure Essex's fall from favour with Queen Elizabeth.


Only one year previousely the ill fated Spanish Armada had tried and failed to invade the south coast of England.



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