This year is the 420th anniversary of the destruction of the Spanish Armada (1588-2008).
The Spanish Empire of King Philip II
In the fateful year of 1588, the Spanish Empire was the largest the world had ever seen up to that time. It included ALL of the New World and a major part of Western Europe. Gold and silver (real money) was flowing into her coffers from the New World.
Philip II was the sole ruler of this vast domain. He was the most bigoted fanatic that ever counted beads or crossed himself before a crucifix....It was said that the only time he ever laughed was when he heard the report of the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 100,000 Protestant Christians in France:
The Spanish Empire in the Netherlands
In 1567, Philip II dispatched a ruthless soldier named the Duke of Alva, with 12,000 men, to subjugate the Netherlands, and use it as a springboard to conquer England.
Throughout Europe, the Spanish army was notorious for their ferocity and ruthlessness. It had taken them over 700 years to drive the Moors from Spain . . . and suddenly they were the most feared army in the world!!
This "Iron Duke" as he was called began a 6 year reign of terror in the Netherlands. On August 22, Alba, accompanied by a body of select Spanish troops, made his entry into Brussels. He immediately appointed a council to condemn without trial those suspected of heresy and rebellion. On June 1, 1568, Brussels witnessed the simultaneous decapitation of twenty-two noblemen; on 6 June followed the execution of the Counts of Egmond and Horne. The "Council of Blood" was the popular designation of Alba's tribunal.
The defeat of the "Invincible" Armada
Only Protestant England, and the small Dutch Republic under William of Orange, stood in Spain's way of eventual world conquest. England had a small population of 4 million, and no overseas possessions.
England's queen at that time was Elizabeth I, daughter of King Henry VIII and Saint Anne Boleyn.
During Elizabeth's reign, the Reformation was firmly established in her kingdom, and Philip II was determined to stamp it out no matter what the cost.
While the "Invincible" Armada was under construction, the dissembling King Philip II was constantly assuring Queen Elizabeth of his abiding concern for her welfare and the prosperity of her kingdom:
On May 28th 1588, the Armada, with around 130 ships, 8,000 sailors and 18,000 soldiers, 1,500 brass guns and 1,000 iron guns, set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, headed for the English Channel. An army of 30,000 men stood in the Spanish Netherlands, waiting for the fleet to arrive. The plan was to land the original force in Plymouth and transfer the land army to somewhere near London, mustering 55,000 men, a huge army for this time. The English fleet was prepared and waiting in Plymouth for news of Spanish movements. It took until May 30 for all of the Armada to leave port and, on the same day, Elizabeth's ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr Valentine Dale, met Parma's representatives to begin peace negotiations. On July 17, negotiations were abandoned.
The basic plan of the "Invincible" Armada was to sail up the English Channel and rendezvous with the Duke of Parma in the Netherlands. Then the combined fleets would cross the Channel and the invasion of England would be a cakewalk. . . or so they planned.
The ships were filled with fanatical Jesuits . . . and racks, pulleys, thumbscrews, iron virgins, gridirons and other diabolical instruments of torture to be used once the Spanish Inquisition was set up in England.
The much smaller English ships were commanded by brave sea captains like Admiral Sir John Hawkins, Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Martin Frobisher and Sir Francis Drake.
Sir Francis Drake (called El Draque "the Dragon") by the Spanish Inquisition was just one of the many heroes of the destruction of the Spanish Armada....Sir Francis made a round the world voyage beginning in 1577 and in 1579 he landed in San Francisco Bay and claimed that land for his sponsor, Queen Elizabeth I....He named the land (now called California) Nova Albion—Latin for New Britain.
From the very beginning, disaster struck the "Invincible" Armada....The huge towering Spanish galleons were attacked by the smaller, nimbler English ships. When the Spanish fleet lay anchored at the French port of Calais, the English sent fire ships and caused a general panic among the Spanish fleet. Then the Almighty blew with His wind and drove them up toward Scotland and away from England.
God worked a stupendous MIRACLE for Protestant England by sending a FIERCE STORM which destroyed most of the ships.
Pope Sixtus V was delighted with the destruction of the "Invincible" Armada!!
Believe it or not, the reigning White Pope, Sixtus V, greatly admired the courage and intelligence of Queen Elizabeth and even wished he could marry her. Here is a quote from a pro-Spanish English writer:
When news of the doomed Armada finally reached Rome, Pope Sixtus refused to pay the promised one million ducats (about 1 billion dollars or 1/6 of the cost of the Armada). A satire or lampoon was posted in Rome about the Pope's attitude to the loss of the Armada:
Obviously Philip II was FURIOUS over this satire and especially the refusal of the Pope to pay the promised ducats....He ordered Black Pope Claudius Aquaviva to poison Pope Sixtus and replace him with a more compliant Pope. Being Pope at that time was more dangerous than sailing with the Armada.
This order was carried out in August 1590, and in that year 3 Popes were assassinated: Sixtus V, Pope Urban VII and Gregory XIV....We have to wait until 1978 to see 3 Popes in one single year,and 2 of them were poisoned to make way for Pope John Paul II.
Until his death in 1598, Philip actually went through 5 White Popes because none of them would come up with any money to finance the 3 more Armadas that he launched against England.
Queen Elizabeth's Armada portrait
As can be expected, the joy in England and among all the Protestant Christians of Europe for God's great deliverance was unbounded....The link between this deliverance and the overthrow of Pharaoh—the ancient persecutor of God's people—was obvious to all who had eyes to see:
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth painted soon after the defeat of the "Invincible" Armada. In the left background can be seen the English fleet and the Spanish Armada is on the rocks to the right.
Pearls—symbolic of purity—decorate the queen's head and gown. Next to her right arm is an imperial crown, and her right hand rests upon a globe—specifically, her fingers rest upon the New World.
This symbolized the fact that Protestant England would rule the waves from then onward and the English would ignore the FRAUDELANT Bull of Pope Alexander VI and begin to colonize the New World.
3 more Armadas were launched against England after 1588. The second left Spain in October 1596, with instructions to land in Ireland. Another violent storm wrecked most of the ships.
The third Armada left Spain the following year but it was also destroyed by storms.
The fourth and last Armada left Spain in February 1598, to rendezvous with French troops at Calais, but the death of Philip II put an end to further Spanish attempts to invade England.
Graham, Winston. The Spanish Armadas. Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1972.
Motley, John Lothrop. The Rise of the Dutch Republic. (In 2 volumes). George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, 1889.
Wylie, Dr. J.A. History of Protestantism. (In 2 volumes). Cassell Petter & Galpin, London, 1875.
Copyright © 2007 by Niall Kilkenny