SIR FRANCIS DRAKE
1540–1596 ENGLISH NAVY
Drake’s dual role, as both explorer and privateer, meant that his career as a military man coincided with his endeavours as an important and distinguished explorer. He circumnavigated the globe from 1577–1580, for which he was knighted, and claimed California for England, but he also acted very much like a pirate in actions against Spanish and Portuguese territories – actions which were condoned by the queen, but which she had no real control over.
Often working hand-in-glove with his second cousin, Sir John Hawkins, his military star ascended with the Spanish preparations for an invasion of England. In 1587 he launched a highly successful raid on Cádiz and followed it up the next year by commanding the English fleet against the Armada.
His end was ignominious, succumbing to dysentery during operations off Panama, and he was buried at sea just months before a second victory at Cádiz.
Drake depicted enjoying his game of bowls as news of the Armada is delivered