SIR FRAN­CIS DRAKE

1540–1596 ENGLISH NAVY

History of War - - ELIZABETHAN WARS -

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

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