Endgame Armada: 12 Days to Save England


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Summer, 1588.

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Philip II, the Catholic King of Spain,

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was on the verge of changing the shape of Europe.

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The most powerful naval force on Earth,

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the mighty Spanish Armada, had sailed through the Channel.

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Its aim? To crush heretic England...

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..and take the crown of Queen Elizabeth.

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SHOUTING AND GUNFIRE

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Our mission is a sacred one.

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This was a war fought in the name of religion,

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but it was also a war of power and politics.

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And for the two great monarchs who started the whole thing off,

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it was deeply personal,

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the result of 30 years of increasing bitterness.

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There you go. Look at that!

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Now, to understand this defining moment in history,

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I'm sailing the waters I love...

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..following the course of the English navy

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as it battled the Spanish Armada.

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There's now a howling gale,

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similar conditions to the ones that Drake and the fleet faced.

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While access to unique, eye-witness accounts...

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This is one of the most remarkable letters I have ever seen.

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..will take us, for the very first time,

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inside the minds of the commanders themselves...

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For their heavy guns to have the greatest effect,

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they've got to go in for the kill.

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..and offer unprecedented insight into the corridors of power.

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In England...

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Bring me good tidings.

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..and Spain...

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GUNFIRE AND SHOUTING

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..allowing us to bring to life 12 days in the summer of 1588...

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GUNFIRE

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..when England's very survival...

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..hung in the balance.

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Army and navy together, their might would be...

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Unstoppable.

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For nine days, the English navy had pursued the Spanish Armada

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from Plymouth to the Isle of Wight.

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But despite three ferocious battles,

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the huge invasion force remained almost entirely intact.

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On 7th August, 1588, the Spanish Armada was anchored

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just here off Calais, on the coast of France.

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It now appeared that they were within

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a whisker of achieving their goal,

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which was to link up with a Spanish army,

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about 21 miles in that direction,

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and then together invade England across the Straits of Dover.

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This was the endgame.

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Somehow, the English had to deal a killer blow.

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And fast,

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or the nation and its queen would fall.

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Just 100 miles away, Elizabeth was about to receive

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the latest reports from her most trusted advisors.

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The two most powerful men in England.

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Lord Burghley, her Lord High Treasurer

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and Sir Francis Walsingham,

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her Secretary of State and spy master.

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They were coordinating the troops, they were organising supplies.

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They were dealing with the Catholic threat and, of course,

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they also had to provide counsel to the Queen.

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Her mood will be most vile.

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Where's the trumpeting porter when you need him?

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How a commoner's fart can leave the Queen in more stitches

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than an army of jesters...

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Are you volunteering?

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Both men knew that despite the navy's valiant efforts,

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the Spanish were closing in

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and England stood on the brink of defeat.

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Gentlemen, bring me good tidings.

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Your Majesty.

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The Spanish are at Calais.

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The peril is closing.

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I do know where Calais is.

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Yes, Your Majesty.

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JESSIE CHILDS: 'The longer the Armada was in the Channel,

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'the greater the threat to Elizabeth, and her future was pretty bleak.

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'If the Spanish could land,'

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if they could overrun England,

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then she would either be captured or she would be killed on the spot.

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It was a pretty grim prospect.

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Elizabeth's arch-enemy, King Philip II,

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was the most powerful man on Earth...

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..ruler of the world's greatest empire.

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But over 700 miles from the action,

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he was out of touch with unfolding events.

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There are rumours reverberating around Europe.

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But, of course, unlike Elizabeth, who is only,

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say half a day away from communication,

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Philip is waiting more than two weeks at times

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to hear conflicting reports about what is going on.

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With no reliable news,

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Philip was wise enough to ignore stories of the Armada's success.

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The Spanish ambassador told Philip that half the English fleet

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has been sunk.

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First of all, Drake had had his legs blown off

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by a cannon ball and then he'd been captured.

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But in Madrid, Philip was wary of this optimistic talk.

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Philip's master plan for

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the invasion was for the Armada

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to sail east up the Channel

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to the Straits of Dover.

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Then the 27,000-strong Spanish army,

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based in Flanders,

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commanded by the Duke of Parma,

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would embark on 300 barges...

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..sail out to meet the Armada,

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and conquer England.

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With his two huge forces joined

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and God on his side,

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the King of Spain remained piously confident of victory.

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Soon the news would surely come

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that the Spanish had landed and London had fallen.

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The English navy knew what lay in store.

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Lord High Admiral Charles Howard realised that the two halves

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of Spain's invasion force must now be in direct contact.

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Howard of Effingham had very little naval experience.

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He'd been appointed Lord High Admiral but he was an administrator.

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Just two miles away from the anchored Spanish fleet,

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Howard needed to decide what his next move should be.

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Don't dither, boy. Don't dither.

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He was advised by his maverick second-in-command,

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an experienced seaman...

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Don't leave anything.

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..who knew how to fight.

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Sir Francis Drake,

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a farmer's son from Devon who'd spent his entire life at sea.

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He had made a very profitable career out of plundering Spanish ships.

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Elizabeth had knighted him for his plunder.

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Play the long game to become rich.

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Nobody had shown more courage,

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sometimes reckless courage,

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in taking on the enemy.

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Nobody was better equipped to deal with the Spanish Armada

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when it arrived.

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Over a week of fighting, Drake had taken some extreme risks

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and learned some valuable lessons.

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He'd known the English ships were faster.

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SHOUTING

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GUNFIRE

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But when he'd plundered a stricken Spanish galleon,

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he'd discovered that English cannon were superior too.

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Keep going!

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And during another attack, he'd worked out just how close

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he needed to be to cause the enemy real damage.

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MULTIPLE BLASTS

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Now, though, it seemed the English position was dire.

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They were desperately low on ammunition

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because Elizabeth was too broke and too mean to properly equip her navy.

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And the Armada was now more threatening than ever.

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Howard and Drake were worried.

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The Spanish Armada was anchored here in friendly Catholic waters.

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They were being re-supplied with vital food and water.

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But worst of all, they were only 21 miles away from a vast

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Spanish army, 27,000 men commanded by the Duke of Parma.

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Drake and Howard were very worried that if these two forces were on the

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verge of joining hands, then that would create an invincible enemy.

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For Elizabeth, sheltered in her country palace at Richmond,

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this news was crushing.

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Parma's army is waiting in Flanders.

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Ready to embark?

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We should assume so.

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Days?

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Hours?

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If the Queen falls, England falls effectively.

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She has no successor, she has no children, no direct heirs.

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The throne would naturally pass to the invader.

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Very well.

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Historians have never been sure of Elizabeth's precise

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movements during the 12 days of the Armada threat.

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But brand-new research now suggests that on the 7th August,

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she made the dramatic decision to relocate her entire court

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to the very centre of her capital.

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Defence of the realm is fundamentally

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hinged on protection of the person of the Queen.

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Elizabeth moves from Richmond to St James's Palace,

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closer to the heart of London.

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Moving Elizabeth and her court is no mean feat.

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She routinely travels with about 200 attendants.

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But St James's Palace, it's much more defendable and she can be

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instantly surrounded by her own troops and safeguarded in that way.

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The vast royal household would be rowed downriver by barge...

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..the very next morning.

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WIND WHISTLES

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As they prepared for the worst, neither Elizabeth nor her navy

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had any idea the Spanish fleet was facing

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some serious problems of its own.

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The king's orders are the king's orders.

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(If only it were that simple.)

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For a start, its commander, the Duke of Medina Sidonia,

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was at loggerheads with his deputy, Admiral Juan Martinez de Recalde.

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We're gaining the wind, closing for the kill.

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We will sail forth and fulfil the king's plan.

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Medina Sidonia was another administrator.

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He had spent barely any time at all at sea

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and would be seasick in a rowing boat.

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This is war, sir.

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Recalde is a sort of Spanish counterpart to Drake.

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A man of action who believes, "This is my objective.

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"Nothing is going to get in my way from achieving it."

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Recalde had wanted to take an English harbour to secure

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a safe base and wait for news from Parma and his army.

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But he was overruled by the inexperienced Medina Sidonia,

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who'd ordered the fleet to sail for the exposed coast of Calais

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to be as close to the army as possible.

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The problem was that despite repeated efforts,

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Medina Sidonia hadn't received any word from the Duke of Parma

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as to where or when their forces would meet.

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Now, within touching distance, news finally came from Parma.

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But it was devastating.

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Parma wrote that he "had not yet embarked

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"so much as a barrel of beer, let alone a single soldier"

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and he couldn't possibly be ready to join forces

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"until at least the following Friday,"

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which was a whole week away.

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Medina Sidonia was horrified.

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He'd raced all the way up the Channel trying to make this

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rendezvous that turned out not to be a rendezvous at all.

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To be fair, Saul,

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the Duke of Parma has got every reason not to be ready.

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He's got 300 barges ready

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for his troops to embark.

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But he can't get his troops on

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until he knows where the Armada is.

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Remember, they haven't been able to

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talk to each other at all until now.

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That's true but, of course,

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he's been a little bit too clever for his own good, I think,

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the Duke of Parma, because

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to put English spies off the scent,

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to try and confuse them about his intentions,

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he's actually dispersed his forces

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and it's going to take him time to regroup them.

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So, pretty much you're stuck on the wrong side of the Channel.

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This is no place to tarry.

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The king's plan... We are trapped.

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Trapped.

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There is no sign of our valiant army.

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Enough!

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We wait for Parma.

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Medina Sidonia was taking a huge risk.

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Now he had to spend an entire week with his fleet on this

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exposed stretch of coast with his English enemy

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looming out there to the west.

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The vast Armada was, for the first time,

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unexpectedly vulnerable to attack.

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Isolated in his palace,

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the usually meticulous Spanish king had never realised

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that his invasion plan depended on some very complex logistics.

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There was a fatal flaw in Philip's master plan.

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Bizarrely, he was astonishingly vague about exactly how and where

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the Spanish Armada would meet up with the army of the Duke of Parma.

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It's almost as though he thought the English Channel

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was a small scrap of water on which it would be easy to meet.

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In fact, of course, it's a long stretch of sea,

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350 miles long, 20 miles wide at its narrowest point.

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Philip assumed that his army and his Armada could simply send

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notes to one another saying where and when they should meet.

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But at sea, surrounded by the enemy, that had so far proved impossible.

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Now, on 7th August, Philip at last became aware of the problem.

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From a messenger.

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From Parma?

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Parma has written to Philip before

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pointing out the failure,

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the absence of any mechanism

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for the fleet and the army to join together,

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but perhaps he was too subtle.

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Professor Geoffrey Parker is the world's foremost expert

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on King Philip

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and has spent a lifetime unearthing documents that take us

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to the very heart of the Armada.

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This letter had been sent from the Duke of Parma

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a full two months earlier

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and it made very uncomfortable reading.

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This letter arrives at The Escorial on the 7th August,

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the very day on which the Armada is stationed off Calais.

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And in it, the Duke of Parma expresses just one more time

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his worry that there's still no mechanism for joining

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the Armada from Spain with the army.

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This time the penny drops

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because we see in the margin the king has written,

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"Please, God, may there not be a screw-up."

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"Embarazo" is the word he uses.

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So for the first time, the king becomes aware that

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there's a fatal flaw in the master plan.

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The funny thing was that both sides,

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English and Spanish, thought the other had the upper hand.

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But the strategic balance had shifted.

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Without Parma's army, the Spanish plan was falling apart.

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The Spanish Armada, by itself, probably didn't have enough troops

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to mount a successful invasion of England.

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And Parma's army, without the Spanish Armada,

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would struggle to get across the Channel.

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And if it did, it wouldn't have the heavy artillery it needed

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to capture English towns like London.

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So, although they didn't know it at this stage,

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the English had the upper hand.

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But as far as Drake and Howard were concerned,

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an invasion could be just hours away.

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We have no choice but to strike now.

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That is the only choice I want.

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The English had to act fast.

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But they knew it was dangerous to attack the Armada

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anchored in its defensive formation.

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So they came up with a desperate, last-ditch plan.

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The idea was to cause maximum panic on the Spanish ships,

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paving the way for the English to strike them hard the following day.

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The plan called for eight old ships,

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plenty of cannonballs and explosives.

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It was time for the fireships.

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Fireships had been used since the ancient Greeks.

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They were a classic method for disrupting a fleet, destroying

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it by fire or at least breaking it up and forcing it to flee.

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An Italian engineer called Giambelli had already given

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the Spanish every reason to fear fireships.

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He created these things called the Hellburners of Antwerp

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that had killed 800 Spanish troops.

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Drake and Howard remembered just how devastating his fireships

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had been at Antwerp and they decided to copy his idea.

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They didn't have enough explosives to make them

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quite as apocalyptic as Giambelli's ships

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but they did gamble on the fact that the Spanish would panic

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at the mere sight of burning ships heading towards their fleet.

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Tides and westerly breeze are in our favour.

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Pray God they remain so.

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Pray God, Elizabeth and St George and even bloody Neptune!

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I don't care, we must seize this moment.

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We must.

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Howard asked his commanders to volunteer eight ships between them.

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With little hesitation, Drake handed one over...

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..and the other commanders quickly followed.

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Their alacrity at offering up boats to be sacrificed wasn't

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quite as generous or as patriotic as it might at first appear.

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They realised they'd be able to claim compensation

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and of course that amount would be a lot more

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than the old boat was worth.

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Once a pirate, always a pirate.

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Ball's here, wadding...

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The principle is quite simple. You strip off anything of value.

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You paint the masts and rigging with tar, you fill it with combustible

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material and you double shot the guns so the heat sends them off.

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Load Cherubim and Seraphim with two shots apiece.

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Aye, sir, 'tis done.

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A little present from El Draco.

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Given the flood tide, you send them off,

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sailed by skeleton volunteer crews who leap into their little boats

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just before the fireships reach their target.

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The obvious danger of a fireship is that if it rams your ship,

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your ship will catch fire as well.

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The greatest fear of any sailor in a wooden ship is fire at sea.

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There's no escape, you either drown or you burn to death.

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-Are we ready?

-We can hurt them.

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At midnight, the skeleton crews

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on board the fireships

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ignited their hulls and let them

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drift toward the anchored Spanish.

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BELLS RING

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Medina Sidonia had suspected that the English might try

0:21:550:21:57

something like this so he'd put a screen of small boats

0:21:570:22:00

around the Armada to protect it.

0:22:000:22:01

They did manage to tow away two of the fireships.

0:22:010:22:04

But the rest of the burning vessels sailed on

0:22:040:22:07

right into the heart of the Spanish Armada.

0:22:070:22:10

As the six remaining fireships drifted ever nearer,

0:22:110:22:15

the Spaniards looked on in horror.

0:22:150:22:18

Raise the anchor. Move! And fast!

0:22:180:22:21

The problem with fireships is that, by very definition,

0:22:290:22:32

they are on fire, they've got no crew on, so actually

0:22:320:22:34

they are relatively easy to avoid. Medina Sidonia had given

0:22:340:22:37

orders to avoid the fireships.

0:22:370:22:39

And all of his captains managed to do that.

0:22:390:22:42

They do it but how do they do it?

0:22:420:22:44

They panic, of course, because he's effectively said to them

0:22:440:22:47

you can manoeuvre, bring up your anchors and get out of the way.

0:22:470:22:50

They don't do that, they cut their anchors.

0:22:500:22:51

And the problem with cutting an anchor

0:22:510:22:54

is you cannot then re-anchor.

0:22:540:22:55

It's a tactical disaster in terms

0:22:550:22:57

of the overall plan here.

0:22:570:22:58

And the Armada is heading, in flight,

0:22:580:23:01

away from Calais.

0:23:010:23:03

I'll accept that there was extreme panic in Calais Roads.

0:23:030:23:07

But they all still managed to get out,

0:23:070:23:09

leaving just a handful of ships

0:23:090:23:12

fighting for their lives, I admit,

0:23:120:23:14

on the Flanders' banks.

0:23:140:23:16

Drake's audacious plan worked.

0:23:220:23:26

The enemy's ships were scattered and vulnerable.

0:23:260:23:29

Now, for the first time, the English could launch an all-out attack.

0:23:290:23:33

And just possibly save England and Elizabeth.

0:23:350:23:39

As her household made the last arrangements to leave Richmond,

0:23:510:23:54

Elizabeth awoke knowing nothing of the night's events.

0:23:540:23:59

As far as she knew, the Spanish army might already be crossing

0:23:590:24:03

the Channel, escorted by a victorious Armada.

0:24:030:24:06

The Queen didn't know

0:24:080:24:10

if she'd still be wearing England's crown by nightfall.

0:24:100:24:14

Do stop fussing.

0:24:140:24:17

You act as if what you do is more important than

0:24:170:24:20

the defence of England.

0:24:200:24:22

Ladies, please grant Her Majesty some peace.

0:24:220:24:25

We can only imagine Elizabeth's state of mind.

0:24:280:24:31

I mean, this is a conflict she sought to avoid,

0:24:310:24:34

this a confrontation that

0:24:340:24:36

has now moved beyond her control and she simply is in a position

0:24:360:24:40

of waiting for the inevitable news of England falling to the Spanish.

0:24:400:24:45

As Elizabeth prepared for the journey downriver to London...

0:24:460:24:50

SHE SIGHS

0:24:500:24:51

I am drained.

0:24:530:24:55

..Walsingham and Burghley continued to organise the country's

0:24:560:24:59

last-ditch defence,

0:24:590:25:02

preparing the English for invasion

0:25:020:25:04

by spreading propaganda about the hated Spanish.

0:25:040:25:07

Hispanophobia, the fear of Spanish, is rife and Walsingham

0:25:110:25:18

and Burghley ramped up this fear for very good reasons, they wanted to

0:25:180:25:22

stiffen the resolve of the English people if there was an invasion.

0:25:220:25:27

Because, after all, every able-bodied man over the age of 16

0:25:270:25:33

would be expected to take up arms to defend the country.

0:25:330:25:37

I have here a proclamation, a draft proclamation,

0:25:370:25:41

which was sent enclosed in a letter from Burghley to Walsingham.

0:25:410:25:46

It shows the heightened rhetoric that they are playing on.

0:25:460:25:50

It refers to "A full tyrannical conquest of the country,

0:25:500:25:55

"the depriving of Her Majesty and the slaughter of her subjects."

0:25:550:26:01

Walsingham went even further in his rhetoric

0:26:010:26:05

in trying to inculcate a sense of fear.

0:26:050:26:09

And he almost referred to

0:26:090:26:11

a sort of sense of genocide and ethnic cleansing,

0:26:110:26:15

that children over the age of seven would be slaughtered,

0:26:150:26:19

that babies would be branded in the face,

0:26:190:26:22

that women would be raped and whipped.

0:26:220:26:26

And what this did was to whip up a sense of fear in the people

0:26:260:26:31

of England, a fear of Spanish invasion.

0:26:310:26:35

In fact, on the morning of the 8th August,

0:26:410:26:44

the Spanish were in disarray and further from invasion than ever.

0:26:440:26:49

HE SINGS

0:26:490:26:52

As morning mass was celebrated, Medina Sidonia

0:26:520:26:55

and Recalde took stock of the previous night's disastrous events.

0:26:550:26:59

Most of the Armada had fled and was now scattered.

0:27:020:27:05

Only five Spanish ships remained anchored off Calais,

0:27:080:27:11

including Medina Sidonia's flagship.

0:27:110:27:14

Facing them, the entire English fleet,

0:27:170:27:21

preparing to attack.

0:27:210:27:22

All was now set for the largest confrontation

0:27:300:27:33

of the Armada campaign.

0:27:330:27:35

Monday, 8th August, 1588 has gone down as the date of one

0:27:350:27:38

of the greatest naval battles in history -

0:27:380:27:41

the Battle of Gravelines -

0:27:410:27:43

named after the town of Gravelines just here on the coast.

0:27:430:27:45

The stakes were high - the fate of England and its queen,

0:27:450:27:50

the primacy of Spain as a military and imperial power,

0:27:500:27:54

and the future of Christianity, all hung in the balance.

0:27:540:27:57

Howard's fleet was now joined by 35 ships from Kent,

0:28:030:28:07

filled with fresh stocks of ammunition.

0:28:070:28:09

For the first time, the English navy outnumbered the Armada.

0:28:110:28:15

Shot and wad, boys, shot and wad!

0:28:150:28:17

Make sure that coin is fast!

0:28:170:28:19

And with all he'd learned over the past ten days,

0:28:200:28:22

Drake was determined to destroy the Spanish once and for all.

0:28:220:28:28

Sailing as close as he dared,

0:28:280:28:30

so that the English cannon could do maximum damage to the enemy ships.

0:28:300:28:35

Until I say, you never stop!

0:28:350:28:37

At 6 o'clock in the morning, Drake's squadron attacks,

0:28:370:28:41

led by the Vice-Admiral.

0:28:410:28:43

Drake sweeps in, firing his bow guns,

0:28:480:28:51

heels over and gives

0:28:510:28:53

the Spanish ships a rippling broadside from his port battery.

0:28:530:28:56

EXPLOSIONS AND SHOUTS

0:29:000:29:04

Clear the pigs!

0:29:130:29:15

And then the rest of the English fleet attack.

0:29:150:29:18

The English coming in close for the first time.

0:29:180:29:21

But the Spanish were not about to retreat from the fight.

0:29:270:29:31

Up till now, Sam, the English,

0:29:310:29:33

I think, have very sensibly

0:29:330:29:34

kept their distance, they've been fighting

0:29:340:29:37

maybe at 100 or 200 yards.

0:29:370:29:38

But this is different. This is the decisive battle developing now.

0:29:380:29:42

And Medina Sidonia knows

0:29:420:29:43

he needs to do something.

0:29:430:29:45

So he's here, Drake attacks him -

0:29:450:29:47

he goes straight for the Spanish flagship,

0:29:470:29:49

but the Spanish here fight a very, very important

0:29:490:29:53

rearguard action that allows the

0:29:530:29:55

rest of the ships time to reform.

0:29:550:29:57

And so, displaying immense seamanship,

0:29:570:30:00

the rest of the ships

0:30:000:30:01

turn around and face the English.

0:30:010:30:05

EXPLOSIONS AND SHOUTS

0:30:060:30:11

MUFFLED SHOUTS

0:30:230:30:24

The battle was very fierce but also very confused.

0:30:300:30:32

The weather was terrible.

0:30:320:30:33

There was cloud, rainstorms and wind.

0:30:330:30:36

And that was made even worse by the huge banks of gun smoke,

0:30:360:30:38

caused by all the cannons firing so much.

0:30:380:30:41

Through it all, the English pressed home their attacks with new energy.

0:30:410:30:44

Keep pressing, men!

0:30:440:30:46

The English are closing in, causing structural damage.

0:30:520:30:56

Now, the Spanish ships are taking a terrible pounding.

0:30:560:31:00

It goes on for eight hours with

0:31:010:31:03

the English just coming again

0:31:030:31:04

and again and again at them.

0:31:040:31:05

You get a real sense that this proximity of fighting,

0:31:050:31:08

this new way of doing it is having a

0:31:080:31:10

massive effect on the Spanish ships.

0:31:100:31:12

Part of the problem is the disparity in the rate of fire

0:31:140:31:16

between the two sides.

0:31:160:31:18

The San Martin fires off 300 cannon balls

0:31:180:31:20

but it's got almost 50 cannon,

0:31:200:31:22

that's just over one an hour.

0:31:220:31:24

I mean, the English are firing five times as quickly.

0:31:240:31:27

The Spanish have no respite.

0:31:280:31:30

They simply haven't got the time to reload their cannon.

0:31:300:31:33

It helps you understand just how

0:31:330:31:36

one-sided this battle was.

0:31:360:31:38

The battle damage is becoming severe.

0:31:430:31:46

We have Spanish warships who are struggling to keep afloat.

0:31:550:31:59

The carnage is terrifying to see.

0:32:000:32:03

You like what we're giving to you?

0:32:030:32:06

Bastards!

0:32:060:32:07

On board the Spanish ships,

0:32:120:32:14

the salvos of cannon fire caused devastation.

0:32:140:32:17

Forward and then the two back.

0:32:210:32:22

Yes!

0:32:220:32:23

Using a pig carcass, it's possible to understand the mortal

0:32:250:32:28

peril the sailors faced that day.

0:32:280:32:31

A four-pound ball was one of the smallest

0:32:310:32:34

used during the battle of Gravelines.

0:32:340:32:36

Others were up to 15 times the size.

0:32:360:32:40

Four, three, two, one.

0:32:420:32:45

We've hit it fair and square on this massive oak target.

0:33:170:33:21

On the inside, you've got all these splinters.

0:33:210:33:25

You can see the jagged effect. Huge splinter come off.

0:33:250:33:29

This would not do you any good at all if it hit you.

0:33:290:33:33

There's a nasty hole there

0:33:410:33:43

and inside the flesh there's a chunk of oak.

0:33:430:33:47

A nasty jagged chunk of oak.

0:33:470:33:50

This is really a serious injury.

0:33:500:33:53

Onboard, the air was filled with splinters of oak

0:33:550:33:59

that mowed down hundreds of Spanish soldiers and sailors.

0:33:590:34:02

For gun crews below deck there was no escape.

0:34:050:34:09

If you were hit during the Armada battles, then you've got

0:34:090:34:12

several problems to contend with.

0:34:120:34:14

First of all, there's the immediate problem of the massive trauma

0:34:140:34:17

wound you may have suffered, either from some piece of flying

0:34:170:34:20

wood or if you were unlucky enough to get hit by a cannon ball.

0:34:200:34:23

Has it ruptured your internal organs, has it blown a limb apart?

0:34:230:34:27

If you survive that, you've then got to survive what the

0:34:270:34:31

barber surgeon is about to do to you.

0:34:310:34:33

Major amputation causes one of the biggest

0:34:380:34:41

problems for the barber surgeon and especially for the patient.

0:34:410:34:45

HE YELLS

0:34:450:34:47

First of all, there's the physical difficulty of hacking through

0:34:470:34:50

the bone and flesh of a patient.

0:34:500:34:52

They would need to use something like this, which is

0:34:520:34:55

a Tudor bone saw. Now, bearing in mind, if we're amputating the arm,

0:34:550:34:58

that's going through one of the biggest bones in the body

0:34:580:35:01

and some of the most hefty tendons.

0:35:010:35:04

It's physically very difficult to saw through the arm.

0:35:040:35:07

It requires the services not only of this,

0:35:070:35:10

but of several large, burly men to hold the patient down.

0:35:100:35:14

But then even if you survive that,

0:35:150:35:18

you've got a further stage, which is to stop the bleeding

0:35:180:35:21

but then to survive the infections that can creep in from infected,

0:35:210:35:26

dirty instruments or even the surgeon's hands.

0:35:260:35:29

As the battle raged on, 85 Spanish doctors on board the Armada

0:35:350:35:40

were overwhelmed by the wounded and the dying.

0:35:400:35:43

It was a bloodbath.

0:35:440:35:45

Official Spanish casualty figures put the number of Spanish dead

0:35:500:35:54

at 600, the wounded at 1,000.

0:35:540:35:55

But some historians think this is very conservative and they've

0:35:550:35:59

calculated that as many as 6,000 Spanish could have been wounded.

0:35:590:36:04

But whatever the numbers, the fact was that the English fleet

0:36:040:36:07

here at the Battle of Gravelines

0:36:070:36:09

had given the Spanish Armada a terrible battering.

0:36:090:36:12

Finally, the Spanish fleet was at England's mercy.

0:36:150:36:20

I mean, it looks at this point that it's going to be a famous

0:36:200:36:22

decisive victory and that the Spanish fleet are going to be

0:36:220:36:25

completely destroyed

0:36:250:36:26

by this superior English gunnery.

0:36:260:36:28

There's just one problem,

0:36:280:36:29

the English are running out of ammunition.

0:36:290:36:31

And so, finally, at about 5 o'clock, Howard calls off the attack.

0:36:310:36:36

Even with the fresh supplies of gunpowder and shot from Kent,

0:36:380:36:42

Howard did not have enough ammunition to finish the job.

0:36:420:36:45

A spirited fight, they are smarting more than we are.

0:36:450:36:49

The English have not landed any kind of killer blow. Why?

0:36:490:36:54

Because they were handicapped all the time by a shortage

0:36:540:36:58

of ammunition, shortage of gunpowder.

0:36:580:37:00

So even though English sailors had outfought the greatest

0:37:040:37:08

military fleet the world had ever seen,

0:37:080:37:11

the Armada escaped total destruction.

0:37:110:37:14

Now safely ensconced in St James's Palace,

0:37:290:37:33

Elizabeth was about to receive news of the victory at Gravelines.

0:37:330:37:36

But Walsingham and Burghley were acutely aware that even badly

0:37:390:37:43

damaged, the Armada still remained a dangerous threat.

0:37:430:37:46

Gentlemen.

0:37:520:37:54

The Spanish are heading north.

0:37:540:37:56

So we have prevailed?

0:37:580:38:00

They could turn back. They could even land.

0:38:000:38:04

I pray not. This whole enterprise is bankrupting us.

0:38:040:38:07

There is more to war than book-keeping.

0:38:070:38:09

Elizabeth always wanted

0:38:110:38:12

to achieve her results

0:38:120:38:13

at the cheapest possible price.

0:38:130:38:15

She hated spending a penny on anything and she simply

0:38:150:38:18

refused any more supplies, either of food or of ammunition.

0:38:180:38:22

Walsingham, we all know that your ideal would be for England to

0:38:230:38:29

spend everything on building your war machine.

0:38:290:38:33

We only follow where you lead, Your Majesty.

0:38:330:38:37

Indeed.

0:38:370:38:39

It is the Almighty who has kept us safe.

0:38:390:38:43

Amen.

0:38:430:38:44

Elizabeth's concern for her cash-strapped economy

0:38:480:38:51

rather than the will to press home victory,

0:38:510:38:54

meant she was still gambling with her own -

0:38:540:38:57

and her country's - future.

0:38:570:38:59

And at 11 o'clock on the 9th August, that gamble paid off.

0:39:010:39:06

The wind direction suddenly changed and the Armada was blown north,

0:39:070:39:12

far from the Duke of Parma's army.

0:39:120:39:15

The wind had finally done what the English had been trying to do

0:39:150:39:18

all along, which was push the Spanish Armada

0:39:180:39:21

out of the English Channel and into the North Sea.

0:39:210:39:23

It's long been thought that this was the moment the Armada threat

0:39:280:39:32

was finally at an end.

0:39:320:39:34

Many ships were in a desperate state.

0:39:340:39:36

And sailing back into the Channel, against prevailing winds,

0:39:360:39:40

was almost impossible.

0:39:400:39:42

So it seemed like the planned invasion was over.

0:39:420:39:45

But a remarkable recent discovery has revealed one more twist...

0:39:470:39:52

..an incredible eyewitness account of the Armada,

0:39:530:39:56

written by Recalde, and discovered by Professor Geoffrey Parker.

0:39:560:40:00

He was the first person to read it in over 400 years.

0:40:020:40:07

And this account revealed something utterly unexpected.

0:40:070:40:11

That even after the Battle of Gravelines,

0:40:130:40:16

Recalde believed the Armada could still fight,

0:40:160:40:20

rendezvous with Parma

0:40:200:40:22

and invade.

0:40:220:40:23

Recalde kept a log and it's the log of a very, very irritated man.

0:40:240:40:29

Recalde clearly thought that honour required a second attempt.

0:40:290:40:33

And he must have made his views felt at the Council of War.

0:40:330:40:38

We must resolve how to proceed.

0:40:390:40:41

We owe it to our king to return to the Channel

0:40:410:40:43

and execute what he commanded.

0:40:430:40:45

We must come to blows with our enemies once more.

0:40:450:40:48

Medina Sidonia could still do his duty

0:40:490:40:53

and fulfil his monarch's wishes.

0:40:530:40:55

But his courage failed him.

0:40:560:40:58

The Duke of Medina Sidonia also keeps a log

0:41:000:41:03

and his log for that day suggests that they discussed what to do next

0:41:030:41:07

and there was a unanimous decision to set sail for Spain going north,

0:41:070:41:12

about going round Scotland and Ireland

0:41:120:41:14

and heading back to Spain that way.

0:41:140:41:16

I propose that we sail westwards around the British Isles

0:41:170:41:21

and return home.

0:41:210:41:22

It is our duty to save as many of the king's ships as possible.

0:41:220:41:26

And face his wrath...

0:41:260:41:28

Are we in agreement?

0:41:300:41:31

Then it is decided.

0:41:330:41:35

Nothing is impossible!

0:41:350:41:37

We hold firm, we make rendezvous with Parma and proceed.

0:41:380:41:43

We are homeward bound.

0:41:440:41:46

HE HITS THE TABLE

0:41:460:41:48

The plague on whoever is responsible.

0:41:480:41:52

Medina Sidonia says there's a unanimous decision.

0:41:520:41:54

We go back to Spain.

0:41:540:41:56

Recalde says, "I didn't like this. I protested but I was overruled."

0:41:560:42:00

They can't both be right.

0:42:000:42:01

It just happens that we have another account from a senior commander

0:42:020:42:06

who backs Recalde's account to the hilt and says there was

0:42:060:42:10

a decision to go back to Spain and, "We protested and we were overruled."

0:42:100:42:15

I think I believe Recalde.

0:42:150:42:16

What is certain is that on the following day,

0:42:250:42:27

the 10th August, Medina Sidonia announced that the

0:42:270:42:30

remnants of the Spanish Armada would travel back to Spain.

0:42:300:42:33

And they'd go via the North Sea and the North Atlantic,

0:42:330:42:36

around England, Scotland and Ireland.

0:42:360:42:38

Humiliated and depressed, Medina Sidonia took to his cabin.

0:42:420:42:46

The Spanish Armada had been defeated.

0:42:470:42:50

Back in London, Elizabeth remained closeted away in St James's Palace.

0:43:180:43:24

But as the vanquished Armada sailed north and the danger clearly

0:43:240:43:28

passed, she decided it was time to present herself to her subjects.

0:43:280:43:33

It's very important for Elizabeth

0:43:330:43:34

to be publicly identified with

0:43:340:43:37

the victory, particularly as she is a female ruler.

0:43:370:43:41

Women do not know anything about matters of war.

0:43:410:43:45

And so, Elizabeth wants to be identified

0:43:450:43:48

as this great warrior queen.

0:43:480:43:50

She wants to show herself in victory.

0:43:500:43:53

Elizabeth's emergence from St James's Palace was quite deliberate,

0:43:540:43:58

quite calculated

0:43:580:44:00

and absolutely necessary.

0:44:000:44:01

I mean, London was full of rumour, of speculation,

0:44:010:44:05

and disorder was feared.

0:44:050:44:08

She needed to come out and put on a show.

0:44:080:44:10

It was time for Elizabeth to write one of the greatest political

0:44:120:44:16

speeches in history.

0:44:160:44:17

Wherefore I am come among you at this time...

0:44:200:44:24

..not for my recreation or pleasure,

0:44:250:44:29

but being resolved in the heat and midst of battle...

0:44:290:44:35

..to live and die amongst you all.

0:44:370:44:39

What comes next?

0:44:410:44:43

"Die amongst you all..." To lay down.

0:44:440:44:47

To lay down, yes, of course.

0:44:470:44:50

Tilbury Fort was where Elizabeth's troops were billeted,

0:44:590:45:02

and it gave her the perfect opportunity

0:45:020:45:05

to show herself to her people.

0:45:050:45:06

She could progress all the way from Westminster to Tilbury,

0:45:060:45:10

across the length of the Thames, and her people could see her.

0:45:100:45:13

It's almost like she's saying, "Here I am. I'm fine."

0:45:130:45:17

This was great PR, it was like a river pageant.

0:45:170:45:20

With church bells ringing in her ears, she mounted a white horse.

0:45:240:45:28

Accompanied by an honour guard

0:45:280:45:30

of 1,000 cavalrymen and 2,000 infantrymen,

0:45:300:45:33

she made her way here to where her army was encamped at Tilbury Fort.

0:45:330:45:37

Legend has it that she was wearing an armoured breastplate over her

0:45:370:45:41

dress as she reviewed all 17,000 men in her army.

0:45:410:45:45

Then came the piece de resistance.

0:45:450:45:48

..to lay down, for my God

0:45:500:45:53

and for my kingdom and for my people...

0:45:530:45:58

..my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

0:45:590:46:05

I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman

0:46:080:46:14

but I have the heart and stomach of a king.

0:46:140:46:18

And a king of England too.

0:46:180:46:21

And take foul scorn that Parma or any prince of Europe

0:46:210:46:27

should dare invade the borders of my realm.

0:46:270:46:31

The speech was pure gold. It was magnificent.

0:46:320:46:36

It's up there with Shakespeare's Henry V.

0:46:360:46:39

She was acknowledging that she's a woman, but she's saying

0:46:390:46:42

she has the heart and stomach of a king and a king of England!

0:46:420:46:46

You know, this is all part of the Gloriana myth.

0:46:460:46:48

As a piece of propaganda,

0:46:510:46:53

Elizabeth's speech here at Tilbury was unrivalled.

0:46:530:46:56

Word of it quickly spread throughout the rest of the kingdom.

0:46:560:46:59

She knew full well that she wasn't just addressing

0:46:590:47:02

the men in the army here - she was talking to the whole nation.

0:47:020:47:05

This great heroine, a Protestant heroine who had defeated

0:47:090:47:14

the Spanish advance, who had defended England

0:47:140:47:17

against the Spanish, against this Catholic crusade.

0:47:170:47:20

So it was absolutely central to the myth making of Elizabeth.

0:47:200:47:25

It was central to understandings of the success of Elizabeth's

0:47:250:47:29

reign and very much explains why she is celebrated

0:47:290:47:33

today as one of England's greatest monarchs.

0:47:330:47:36

Medals were cast.

0:47:370:47:39

It shows the Spanish Armada foundering on these rocks.

0:47:390:47:42

It's got the date and it's got the words from a psalm

0:47:420:47:44

written around the edge.

0:47:440:47:46

"You God art great and doest wondrous things."

0:47:460:47:50

Even Elizabeth got in on the action, she wrote poems and hymns,

0:47:510:47:55

commemorating herself.

0:47:550:47:57

But behind Elizabeth's glorification, there was a cold

0:48:000:48:03

disregard for those who had saved her life and won her victory.

0:48:030:48:08

The English fleet limped home, short of stores

0:48:110:48:16

with the crews exhausted from battle,

0:48:160:48:19

only to be shunned by a queen who cared more for money than

0:48:190:48:23

for the men who'd brought her glory.

0:48:230:48:25

One would have thought that Elizabeth's navy would have

0:48:270:48:30

been covered in glory after the defeat of the Armada,

0:48:300:48:33

but in fact, there's an astonishing audacity

0:48:330:48:37

to what Elizabeth does next,

0:48:370:48:39

because she actually criticises the commanders of her navy for not

0:48:390:48:43

looting the Spanish ships enough and bringing her more riches.

0:48:430:48:47

Victory, apparently, was not enough.

0:48:470:48:50

And if her lack of gratitude to her commanders was surprising,

0:48:520:48:56

the treatment of her sailors was far, far worse.

0:48:560:49:00

When Howard and the ships returned, there was an epidemic of typhus,

0:49:030:49:08

which swept through the English fleet,

0:49:080:49:10

killing many of the sailors who had fought so bravely for her.

0:49:100:49:15

Elizabeth refused to spend any money looking after them.

0:49:150:49:19

One statistic tells the horrific story.

0:49:230:49:25

Though England did not lose a single ship during the course

0:49:250:49:28

of the battle with the Armada, yet the losses of men to disease

0:49:280:49:31

and starvation meant that their losses equalled

0:49:310:49:34

those of the Spanish, which lost half their fleet.

0:49:340:49:38

And had Elizabeth's commanders not used their own money to

0:49:380:49:41

provide some food and sustenance for these men,

0:49:410:49:43

the death toll would have been even more horrific than it was.

0:49:430:49:47

It's a stain on her character that I believe can never be erased.

0:49:470:49:51

What does this treatment of the sailors tell us about Elizabeth?

0:49:530:49:56

Well, Elizabeth is a lonely woman in a man's world.

0:49:560:50:01

She has to be more hardnosed than anybody else.

0:50:010:50:05

And so, those Tudor genes she inherited

0:50:050:50:09

enabled her to look very callous,

0:50:090:50:13

to look very cruel in her treatment,

0:50:130:50:17

but in the 16th century this wasn't unusual.

0:50:170:50:21

She was just better at it than others.

0:50:210:50:24

-HE PRAYS IN SPANISH:

-Padre nuestro que estas en los cielos

0:50:340:50:38

Santificado sea tu nombre

0:50:380:50:42

Venga tu reino...

0:50:420:50:43

Whilst England and Elizabeth celebrated victory,

0:50:430:50:46

far away in Spain, Philip II continued to pray for success.

0:50:460:50:51

More than three weeks after the decisive battle,

0:50:540:50:57

he was still unaware of the Armada's terrible fate.

0:50:570:51:00

He had heard nothing from the Armada as to their progress,

0:51:020:51:08

even where they were,

0:51:080:51:10

but he was now becoming worried

0:51:100:51:14

that his plan had been fatally flawed.

0:51:140:51:18

And he prayed three hours at a time,

0:51:180:51:23

on his knees.

0:51:230:51:24

I mean, victory should be his.

0:51:240:51:27

"Isn't God on my side?"

0:51:300:51:32

Then, at last, on the 31st August, as the remnants of his Armada

0:51:370:51:42

struggled past the Hebrides, news finally arrived.

0:51:420:51:46

It's a letter from Parma himself

0:51:480:51:51

saying that the vital precondition for invasion has not been met,

0:51:510:51:56

that is to say the fleet and the army have not 'joined hands'.

0:51:560:52:00

That's bad but even worse is the news that comes three days later

0:52:020:52:06

that the Armada has decided to set sail for home,

0:52:060:52:10

going around Scotland and Ireland.

0:52:100:52:11

Philip has to shoulder a lot of responsibility for the failure

0:52:150:52:19

of the Armada.

0:52:190:52:20

And above all, Philip trusted too much in God,

0:52:250:52:28

he had this blind faith that it didn't matter how bad or how

0:52:280:52:32

flawed his strategy was, because God would make it work.

0:52:320:52:35

Too much could go wrong and lo, it did all go wrong.

0:52:380:52:43

God not only deserted the Spanish monarch,

0:52:450:52:48

but also the Armada as it struggled home.

0:52:480:52:51

Because for the sailors who'd survived battle,

0:52:550:52:58

there was even worse to come.

0:52:580:52:59

Terrible storms drove many of the Spanish Armada ships

0:53:010:53:04

onto the rocky coasts of Scotland and Ireland.

0:53:040:53:08

Perhaps 40 ships were lost.

0:53:080:53:10

Around 12,000 men drowned, died of exhaustion and hunger,

0:53:100:53:15

or were killed by the Irish or English.

0:53:150:53:18

Perhaps as little as 65 ships ended up returning home.

0:53:180:53:22

Around half the men were killed, including many of the commanders.

0:53:220:53:26

No wonder one monk in The Escorial called it

0:53:260:53:29

"The worst disaster to affect Spain for 600 years."

0:53:290:53:32

The Duke of Medina Sidonia was one of the lucky few.

0:53:390:53:43

His ship limped home in late September.

0:53:430:53:46

But he was utterly humiliated.

0:53:460:53:49

As he passes through the towns of Castile, people call him

0:53:490:53:53

Chicken Duke - Duque de Gallina.

0:53:530:53:55

And people ring his residence where he's sleeping

0:53:550:53:58

and say, "Drake, Drake, Drake is coming.

0:53:580:54:00

"Drake, Drake, Drake is coming."

0:54:000:54:02

But hey, he survives, the rest of them don't.

0:54:050:54:08

For Juan Martinez de Recalde, exhausted and sick with typhus,

0:54:090:54:15

this would be his last campaign.

0:54:150:54:17

Recalde gets back. I mean, he's a superb sailor,

0:54:190:54:22

but when he comes ashore he already knows that the Armada has

0:54:220:54:25

failed, he already knows that many, many other ships are not coming home.

0:54:250:54:29

And three days later, he dies.

0:54:290:54:31

Before he dies, he puts together this incriminating dossier,

0:54:330:54:38

and he sends it all to the king,

0:54:380:54:40

hoping to take down the Duke of Medina Sidonia.

0:54:400:54:43

Its pages reveal every beat of the Armada campaign from the inside.

0:54:450:54:50

From the moment it approached Plymouth

0:54:520:54:54

to the battle for the Isle of Wight,

0:54:540:54:58

and the tragedy of Gravelines,

0:54:580:55:01

this is an experienced warrior's indictment

0:55:010:55:05

of his pen-pushing commander.

0:55:050:55:07

We know the king reads it because Philip writes, "I've read it all,

0:55:130:55:16

"although I would rather not have done because it hurts so much."

0:55:160:55:20

But because Recalde's dead, he files it away

0:55:200:55:24

and it stays in these files until I find it 400 years later.

0:55:240:55:27

-As for Philip himself,

-HE COUGHS

0:55:320:55:35

he also never recovered from his Armada's destruction.

0:55:350:55:38

Philip's health started to deteriorate, he suffered from

0:55:400:55:44

malarial fevers, his gout got worse,

0:55:440:55:47

and he had this incapacitating arthritis,

0:55:470:55:51

but he still believed that God was on his side.

0:55:510:55:54

So he sent two more Armadas against Elizabeth

0:55:540:55:57

and they were both foiled by the weather,

0:55:570:55:59

but he remained at war with England until his death.

0:55:590:56:02

Philip's great Protestant enemy, Elizabeth, was also ageing.

0:56:090:56:13

Her physical powers waning.

0:56:130:56:15

But her public image went from strength to strength.

0:56:170:56:20

And we can see that in one glorious painting - the Armada Portrait.

0:56:210:56:27

Behind Elizabeth, through two windows,

0:56:300:56:33

are the defeated Armada

0:56:330:56:34

and her victorious navy.

0:56:340:56:37

But a youthful queen sits centre stage,

0:56:380:56:42

bedecked in pearls and wearing the imperial crown.

0:56:420:56:46

We don't see the frail, fading woman that Elizabeth's ladies saw.

0:56:480:56:53

It says that her best years are ahead of her.

0:56:530:56:57

And where the codpiece should have been, had she been a king,

0:56:570:57:00

there is a pretty pink bow with a pearl pendant.

0:57:000:57:04

This is the Virgin Queen,

0:57:040:57:07

she is impregnable, and she is invincible, and so is England.

0:57:070:57:11

She was now firmly established as the great Gloriana,

0:57:110:57:16

the triumph of England.

0:57:160:57:18

It was really the birth of national identity

0:57:180:57:21

and that identity was inextricably bound with Elizabeth herself.

0:57:210:57:26

I think this is a pivotal point really in the development

0:57:280:57:32

of England as a world power.

0:57:320:57:35

This victory goes to England's head in a way that, perhaps,

0:57:350:57:39

has never really died.

0:57:390:57:40

If Spain had won,

0:57:460:57:48

the chances are her empire would have gone from strength to strength.

0:57:480:57:51

Instead, the defeat of the Armada is seen as the beginning

0:57:510:57:55

of Spain's decline and the start of England's formidable rise.

0:57:550:58:00

In the painting, Elizabeth is resting her hand on a globe,

0:58:000:58:03

her fingers touching the Americas.

0:58:030:58:06

In the decades that followed the Armada,

0:58:070:58:09

England and its navy would set about constructing what would

0:58:090:58:13

become the greatest empire in the history of the world.

0:58:130:58:17

CHORAL SINGING

0:58:170:58:22

# They swear they'll invade us These terrible foes

0:58:270:58:32

# They frighten our women Our children and beaus

0:58:320:58:36

# But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er

0:58:360:58:41

# Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore

0:58:410:58:45

# Heart of oak are our ships Heart of oak are our men

0:58:450:58:50

# We always are ready Steady, boys, steady!

0:58:500:58:54

# We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again. #

0:58:540:58:58

The final episode of a three-part drama-documentary series telling the story of how England came within a whisker of disaster in summer 1588.

Newly discovered documents reveal a remarkable web of misunderstandings that stopped the Spanish from invading, and show how the English victory forged the reputation of Elizabeth.


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