Tudor Ships And Sailors
The English Navy
Henry VII was the first
king to build ships especially for war since the times of Alfred the Great.
He also encouraged people to build merchant ships for trade. Henry VIII
continued this. Ships were high and narrow and carried large numbers of
guns. Some were carried on the upper decks whilst heavy guns were put between
decks and were fired through holes cut in the sides of the ships.
Sir Francis Drake
sailed round the world between 1577 and 1580 in his ship the Golden Hind.
It was 75 feet long and 20 feet wide. There was not much room for the seamen.
They had to live, eat and sleep in small spaces which were hardly ever
dry. They usually slept on bare boards and had very little apart from the
clothes they wore. They lived off salt pork and beef, cheese, dried fish
and biscuits. Without fresh fruit and vegetables the seamen used to catch
scurvy. This made them tired and stopped them from working properly. Lots
of them died unless they were put ashore to find fresh food.
had conquered much of central and South America by 1550. Their fleets carried
back large amounts of gold and silver to Spain. English ships used to attack
these treasure ships and steal their goods.
ships captured a huge amount of gold and silver on their trip around the
world. When he returned home in 1580 he was knighted.
gathered a fleet in Cadiz harbour in 1587, ready to invade England. Drake
sailed into the harbour and destroyed over 20 of the Spanish warships.
Drake called this the "singeing of the King of Spain's beard".
The Spanish Armada
1587 King Philip II of Spain drew up plans for war against Queen Elizabeth.
A huge fleet, or armada of 130 ships was to sail up the English Channel
to the Netherlands. It would be joined by an army of 30,000 men and take
them to the English coast. Where they would land and invade England returning
it to the Catholic religion.
left Lisbon in May 1588, but ran into a storm and lost supplies. The english
fleet, led by Lord Howard and Sir Francis Drake, attacked the Armada on
21 July near Plymouth. They tried to escape but knew they were trapped
and decided to drop anchor near Calais harbour.
night Drake and Howard sent eight fireships towards Calais harbour. The
Spaniards were afraid and cut their anchor ropes and fled out to sea.
the battle began the Spaniards were already beginning to fall. The English
destroyed four Spanish ships and damaged many more. The spaniards were
beaten but their only way home was to sail right round the north of Scotland
and into the Atlantic Ocean. Just 60 ships made it back to Spain.
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