Sir Walter Raleigh Participation in the Defeat of the Spanish Armada

A man of the Renaissance era, a Gentleman, handsome, ambitious and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I - these are just a few of the titles associated with Sir Walter Raleigh of England - one of the most famous explorers during the reign of Elizabeth I. 

Sir Walter Raleigh first came to the attention of Queen Elizabeth I in 1580, when he served with distinction and bravery against the rebellious forces in Munster, Ireland that ended in 1581. In return for such service, Sir Walter Raleigh was granted lucrative wine monopolies that would make him extremely wealthy. The years since his knighthood saw Sir Walter Raleigh growing in stature as he continued to acquire more lucrative properties and estates and positions within the Queen's court. In 1587, for his continued service as a loyal servant, Sir Walter Raleigh was appointed as Captain of the Queen's Guard, solidifying his legacy in history as the Queen's favorite during her reign.

The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

As a result of his father’s background in shipping and his expeditions to North America, Sir Walter Raleigh always possessed a keen interest in both seamanship and navigation. This interest is what would lead to the purchase of an English galleon – a large multi-deck sailing ship called the Ark Raleigh which was subsequently sold to the Crown.

Upon its sale to the Crown, the galleon was renamed to the Ark Royal and would later be used as the English flagship in a number of engagements. The height of the Ark Royal’s success came in the battle that resulted in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 when she was used as the flagship of Lord High Admiral Charles Howard. The Ark Royal enjoyed a long career spanning more than fifty years, with her fame later leading to a number of warships of the Royal Navy being named in her honor.

Finally, the legend of being a gentleman - that which he was well favored and loved for by Queen Elizabeth I during her reign. Although Sir Raleigh did not command a ship during the defeat of the Spanish Armada, he was the Queen's naval adviser and helped Sir John Hawkins to implement improvements to the design of ships, an important factor in the success of the English fleet against the Spanish.

07 July 2022
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