Elizabeth Ist coat of arms

Elizabethan Navy

Picture of an Elizabethan Ship

Picture of an Elizabethan Ship

The Elizabethan Navy and the 'Invincible Spanish Armada
One hundred and thirty-two ships, many of them the largest ever known at the time, were ready to sail. They carried three thousand guns and thirty thousand men. To cope with this formidable force, the whole British navy could muster only thirty-four vessels, all much smaller than the largest of the Spanish ships.

But, in consideration of the great danger, merchants and private gentlemen fitted out vessels at their own expense, and by midsummer a fleet of one hundred and ninety-seven ships was placed at the disposal of the British admiral. In tonnage, number of guns, and number of men, the strength of the whole fleet was about one half that of the Armada. The Spanish Armada

The Commanders of the Elizabethan Navy
The Commanders of the Elizabethan Navy who faced the Spanish Armada were real heroes. The English were intensely patriotic and this English spirit proved to be indomitable. The Commanders of the Elizabethan Navy who faced the Spanish Armada were real heroes. The English were intensely patriotic and this English spirit proved to be indomitable. Many of the English commanders were fiercely Protestant and believed that they were fighting to save England from the Catholic Spanish and their dreaded inquisition with its tortures and burnings. Men such as Sir Walter Raleigh had witnessed the Catholic savagery of the St Bartholomew's Eve Massacre. This was not forgotten. The Commanders of the Elizabethan navy were as follows:

  • Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral of England
  • Francis Drake
  • Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Lord Sheffield
  • Sir Richard Grenville
  • Sir Robert Southwell
  • Francis Drake
  • Martin Frobisher
  • John Davis
  • Edward Fenton

The Elizabethan Age - The History of the Elizabethan Navy
The Royal Navy was developed by Henry VIII was allowed to decay under his two immediate successors, Edward and Queen Mary. According to the most authentic lists,  in 1548 there were 53 ships in the Fleet, with a total tonnage of about 11,000. By 1558 there were only 26, with a tonnage of little more than 7,000. During the first half of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the numbers were not increased. In 1575 there were just 24 vessels; but by the time the invasion of the Spanish Armada, in the twenty-ninth year of Elizabeth's reign there were 34 ships in the Elizabethan navy. Medium sized ships were regarded as better weapons in general than those of the largest size. The multiplication of smaller craft would have been a far less effective means for achieving the desired end. The Royal Navy was a creation of the century. The Elizabethan Navy with its small ships defeated the might of the Spanish Armada with its large and mighty ships.

Elizabethan Age
Elizabethan Era Index

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