The Armada

The Armada

by Garrett Mattingly

Chronicling one of the most spectacular events of the sixteenth century, The Armada is the definitive story of the English fleets infamous defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The esteemed and critically acclaimed historian Garrett Mattingly explores all dimensions of the naval campaign, which captured the attention of the European world and played a deciding role in the settlement of the New World. So skillfully constructed it reads like a novel (New York Times), The Armada is sure to appeal to the scholar and amateur historian alike.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.11
  • Pages: 464
  • Publish Date: August 1st 2005 by Mariner Books
  • Isbn10: 0618565914
  • Isbn13: 9780618565917

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It details the politics of Spain, France and England that led to the creation of the invasion fleet. The economics of creating the fleets, in England and in Spain, from the food & water to the building or buying of ships & boats and manning them was something of a nightmare.

But it is more: it is a profile of Elizabeth Tudor in the thirtieth year of her reign; it is an in-depth look at the savage War of the three Henrys that devastated France and the Low Countries; it provides some insights into the character of Phillip, king of Spain; and above all, it is a panorama of a Europe that, having taken the first step out of the long medieval night, is now groping for the next step leading ultimately to the industrial revolution and the modern world. Their armor was only cuirass and morion, their arms mostly just broadsword and pistolOpposite it the line of the royalists rippled and shimmeredThree thousand common soldiers were slaughtered, more than four hundred knights and gentlemen, and an impressive roll of dukes, marquises, counts and baronsAt least, said Henry of Navarre at the days end, nobody will be able to say after this that we Hugeuenots never win a battle. And, of course, we have the famous events at Tilbury, August 18 and 19, 1588, when Elizabeth went down from London to review her troops mustered to resist the threatened invasion: Elizabeth was easy to upset but hard to frightenUndismayed, she led the martial procession of barges down the river, regaining on the way a sense of participating in great events such as she had not known since the initiative passed from the diplomats to the fighting menWhen her Captain General came to welcome her and take her orders for the inspection and review, the queen told himShe needed no guards among her fellow countrymen in arms for her serviceAnd so, whoever may have protested, the inspecting party was arrangedThat was the whole escort, four men and two boysthe little party advanced into the ranks of the militia, which exploded in a roar of cheersThe day was so successful she decided it would bear repetition. This time there was a review and march pastand then the queen went to dine in state in the generals pavilion, and all the captains of her army came to kiss her hand.

In the late summer of 1588, all of Europe held its breath as an enormous Spanish fleet, consisting of a hundred and fifty vessels of varying sizes, set sail for the English channel. As is famously known, the Armada met English fire and northern winds, and a third of its number was lost utterly on the shores of Britain and Ireland. The Armada is a storied history not just of the Spanish fleets doomed voyage into the channel, but how Spain came to launch such an expensive and unwieldy endeavor. France, who might oppose the sudden envelopment of England into the Spanish empire, is struggling with its own civil war, and every one of the three contenders is a Henry. The English engaged in a running battle with the Armada as it made its way towards the Channel; there was no epic showdown, but a series of smaller skirmishes, two of which when combined with the storms of the Channel did serious damage to the fleet.

An excellent and very readable history of the Armada battle and the whole cauldron of English and European politics surrounding it.

Mattingly should especially be commended for placing the events of 1588 in the context of the English succession, the Dutch Revolt, and even France's War of the Three Henries.