On May 3rd the Armada sailed from the mouth of the Tagus, but a great gale dispersed the ships, and obliged them to put back into port to repair. Surely God did not smile upon the beginning of a warfare carried on in his name. It was not until July 12th that the fleet finally sailed from Corunna on its mission of destruction, and to meet its fate.
To cope with this formidable force, the whole British navy could muster only thirty-six 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. But all England was aroused. For more than five centuries this was the first foreign invasion that had threatened her shores.
The years of preparation had given time for the avowed purposes of Philip to become known throughout the kingdom. There was anxiety everywhere, for no one knew where and when the blow was to be struck; but there was no thought of submission, and all England stood alert, eagerly watching and waiting. Much to Philip's disappointment and chagrin, the great Catholic families of England rallied to their country's defense as readily as their Protestant neighbors, and all Englishmen stood shoulder to shoulder in this supreme moment of the nation's peril. Vessels patrolled the shores, to give notice of the coming ships; soldiers drilled in every hamlet; and on the hill-tops piles of fagots were placed so that signal-fires might speedily send the news to the remotest parts of the kingdom.
Interesting Facts and Information about the Elizabethan Age and The Spanish Armada