Episode 1 Armada: 12 Days to Save England


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We remember Elizabeth I as one of our greatest monarchs.

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Queen of Shakespearean England...

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HINGES CREAK

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..patron of great voyages of discovery...

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..and protector of the Protestant Church of England.

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But things could have been very different.

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In the summer of 1588,

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Elizabeth and the people of England faced an overwhelming threat.

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The country was on the verge of invasion

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by the most powerful military fleet

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ever assembled - the Spanish Armada.

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SHOUTS AND GUNSHOT

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Defeat would have led to the imprisonment

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and execution of Elizabeth...

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My throne is unstable...

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..and a future for England under the control of Catholic Spain...

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..my kingdom tottering.

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..with dramatic consequences for the whole of Europe.

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Now, to understand this defining moment in history, I'm going

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to take to the waters I love...

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Right, let's get out into the rough stuff.

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..following the course of the English navy as it battled

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the Spanish Armada in the Channel.

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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, eyewitness 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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Your problem is that your fleet is divided.

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..and offer unprecedented insight into the corridors of power

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in England...

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Gentlemen.

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..and Spain...

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SHOUTING

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

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..when England's very survival...

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..hung in the balance.

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This is a tale of astonishing twists and turns, which saw England

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and its Queen come within a whisker of disaster.

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This is the real story of the Spanish Armada.

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HORSES APPROACH

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When Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England,

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woke on Friday the 29th of July 1588,

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she knew that her life and her realm were in grave danger.

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A good night?

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My mind was tossing on the ocean.

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The cause of Elizabeth's nightmares was 700 miles away.

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King Philip II of Spain...

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..the most powerful man on earth,

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hellbent on the Queen of England's destruction.

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His weapon, a mighty Armada.

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125 ships...

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..packed with men...

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..bristling with cannon...

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..sent to crush a rogue state...

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that stole from Spanish treasure ships...

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and lived by the terrible heresies of Protestantism.

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This was a crusade for the safety of Spain and the glory of God.

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-Good morning, Your Majesty.

-Good morning.

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England was a small country on the very edge of Europe...

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a Protestant outpost surrounded by Catholic powers.

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Good morning, ladies.

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Elizabeth had been in a cold-war standoff with Spain for years...

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Your Majesty.

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..but now she knew that the Armada had sailed...

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..and she was under immense strain.

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On the eve of the Armada,

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Elizabeth is looking every single one of her 54 years.

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Her skin is pockmarked, she had smallpox

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when she was some 25 years younger,

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her hair has largely fallen out.

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So she really is looking like an old woman, even though

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she's only in her mid-50s.

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She was God's anointed. She was the head of the body politic.

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She was England. Her face was the landscape of her country.

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She couldn't afford for it to look

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withered or decayed.

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It was a mammoth operation getting Elizabeth ready in the morning,

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and we're talking about make-up that one critic at the time described

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as being half an inch thick.

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Elizabeth is having to slap it on.

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She would've certainly been startling in appearance,

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almost frightening, I think.

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And I think that was part of it for Elizabeth.

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She didn't want to look like an ordinary human being.

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She was appointed by God and therefore

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she was going to appear at court as some kind of semi-godlike figure.

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This was England's virgin queen...

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..ageing...

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politically isolated...

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Your Majesty.

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Thank you, Blanche.

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..and under threat.

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There we are, then.

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200 miles from Elizabeth, on the coast of Devon,

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the men of the English navy

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were preparing for the battle of their lives.

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I've been fascinated by the momentous battles of the Armada

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since I was a child...

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..and I've been sailing in the English Channel for just as long.

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There you go, look at that!

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Now, I'm going to be following every manoeuvre of the navy

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and the Armada as they fought in these very waters 400 years ago.

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But on the morning of Friday the 29th of July,

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the English were still in harbour...

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..and they had no idea just how close the Spanish were.

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Elizabeth had a big international network of spies and they'd spent

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months learning all they could about Spain's preparations for the Armada.

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But unfortunately, what none of them could tell the English government

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was exactly where or when the Armada might arrive.

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And that meant, through the early summer of 1588,

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England was on high alert.

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Over 100 ships had been assembled at Plymouth,

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under the command of England's Lord High Admiral -

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Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham.

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Good afternoon, men.

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Please, continue.

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Howard was a leading aristocrat, a former ambassador to France

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and Elizabeth's own cousin.

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The problem was that Howard had never commanded

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a fleet in battle before.

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He was an administrator, he was used to giving orders from behind a desk.

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Oh, easy, boy! We don't want to do the Spaniards' job for them!

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To be honest, he got the job mainly because of his aristocratic pedigree

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rather than his naval fighting skills, which was a bit alarming.

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Come on, men, this is your home, keep it tidy.

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Thankfully, Howard had a crack team of experienced commanders...

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-Are we ready?

-We're patching up.

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..most famously, his deputy, Sir Francis Drake.

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Good, good. Excellent work, Drake.

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That's why I'm here.

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Drake was just a few years younger than Howard

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but he was from very different stock.

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He was the son of a Devon farmer

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and he'd spent nearly his entire adult life at sea.

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He was one of a new breed of self-made men who

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lived by their wits.

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He'd managed to complete, quite recently,

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the second ever circumnavigation of the globe and he'd been knighted

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for services to his country, which basically meant that he'd managed

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to fill Queen Elizabeth's coffers with stolen Spanish gold and silver.

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In short, Drake was England's most brazen pirate.

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Elizabeth had knighted him

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and made him second-in-command of her navy...

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..and it needed all the help it could get.

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The ague - how bad?

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'The fleet wasn't just in harbour,

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'it was recovering from a failed mission.'

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And munitions?

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Loading what we can but could always do with more.

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As ever, mend and make do.

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My ships will be ready. They will be ready.

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An impetuous plan of Drake's to attack first...

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Keep our promises.

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..had seriously backfired.

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Drake had just returned from a disastrous attempt

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to intercept the Spanish out at sea.

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Terrible weather had battered his fleet

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and no-one had even spotted one single Spanish vessel.

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So this quayside would have been a scene of chaos and confusion,

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men were lying sick, vessels were being hastily repaired

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and provisions being piled on board.

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This was hardly the battle-ready fleet that Drake had promised.

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Time was running out.

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Philip's great Armada was just 40 miles west of Plymouth...

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..and inching ever closer to London...

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and Elizabeth.

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The Armada had left port a week before

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and was now approaching English waters.

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It was a massive fleet.

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125 ships crammed

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with 16,000 soldiers

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and 7,000 of Spain's finest sailors.

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They were in a variety of ships

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but they kept perfect formation as they approached the Channel

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and their sails darkened the southern sky.

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Now, the English know they're coming, they haven't seen them

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yet but that's why they're positioned here at Plymouth

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so they can get them before they get into the main body of the Channel.

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We've got about 105 ships here, bit of a mixed bag

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but a lot of powerful galleons among them.

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Not so many soldiers, of course,

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but add to this force another 30 ships over here,

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just off the Kent coast, about 135 in total - pretty similar numbers.

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But your problem is that your fleet is divided which means these

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ships alone have to be able to try and stop our Armada.

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Well, that's what they're worried about, of course, in Plymouth.

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They know the Armada is coming, they haven't seen it yet

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but they must have feared it's going to be unstoppable.

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The destruction of Tudor England

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had been plotted here in Spain's capital.

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In the 16th century, Madrid was the hub of a vast empire...

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..stretching from Peru to the Philippines.

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Spain was THE superpower. Immensely powerful.

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It controlled not only the Iberian Peninsula

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but also the New World and all that bullion.

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Spain had a foothold in North America, South America,

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the West Indies, the East Indies, Africa,

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great swathes of Europe.

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It was famously the empire upon which the sun never set.

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The nerve centre was this royal palace and monastery,

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30 miles to the north of the capital.

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From a small cell at its heart, King Philip orchestrated his empire.

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His motto matched his ambitions -

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"The world is not enough."

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Philip was an obsessive.

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Not the sort of person you'd like to sit next to at a dinner party.

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Only two things concerned him - his empire and his religion.

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In 1588, Philip was 61 years old and in failing health

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but he remained driven by a singular zeal.

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Your Majesty.

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Philip was a dour, rather dull character, to be honest.

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More papers for you to sign.

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He was known as the Bureaucrat King

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and what he liked was nothing better than to sit in a very plain,

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simple apartment doing his paperwork.

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He didn't like personal contact with his minions, they had to submit

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their reports on paper, even if they were sitting in the next room.

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Professor Geoffrey Parker is the world's leading expert

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on Philip and his empire.

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He's spent an entire career - over half a century -

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unearthing ancient documents in archives from California to Madrid.

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You would think, since the King died in 1598, we've had time to

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discover everything but this just isn't so.

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I would say there's thousands of documents still out there

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which have not been identified.

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This is what comes of spending most of your days reading papers

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and annotating them - you leave a very long and wide paper trail.

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PHILIP COUGHS

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Highness, if I may...

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..your cough is getting worse.

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There's one document where he says, "It's the documents that

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"give me cough, every time I pick up a document I start coughing."

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What do you expect...

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..with all these papers?

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'They all say he stares at you and the other thing

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'they all say is he speaks very, very quietly

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'and he says very, very little.'

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I meant no...

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One startling new discovery has revealed over 3,000

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hand-written papers, shedding light on a man who was intent

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on keeping his world in order by micromanaging every detail himself.

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This is absolutely typical.

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It's a letter from his private secretary,

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Mateo Vazquez, saying, you know, "I need a decision on something."

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The King launches into a four page tirade about how much

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work he has to do, "I don't know how I put up with it, I don't

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"have time to do everything", on and on and on. This is just

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pages two and three of a four-page response, and the brunt of it is,

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"I don't have time to take the decisions."

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Well, this took him 15 minutes.

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But in the summer of 1588,

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Philip was preoccupied with the problem of England.

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The Armada was his solution...

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..to finally deal with a heretic Queen...

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..a woman who, surprisingly...

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..he had once asked to be his wife.

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Philip and Elizabeth had first met here at Hampton Court,

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near London, more than 30 years earlier.

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Elizabeth was then a 20-year-old princess...

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..Philip, a Spanish prince, sent to forge an alliance with England

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by marrying Elizabeth's older, Catholic half-sister, Queen Mary.

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So we've got a really interesting coin here.

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It's an image of Philip and Mary but above them is a floating crown.

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Now what this suggests is a kind of dual monarchy, the idea...

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This isn't a crown that's on the top of Mary's head,

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it's both above Mary and Philip.

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It shouldn't be but it's a kind of little-known fact that Philip

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was, for a time, King of England.

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But just four years later, Mary had died, and Elizabeth -

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a Protestant - had been crowned Queen.

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We have this coin and, if we compare the coin to the one we saw of

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Mary and Philip, a dual monarchy,

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here we have Elizabeth as sole Queen

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and, of course, this is a situation

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that was to continue through her life

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even though, for the very early years of her reign,

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Elizabeth was relentlessly petitioned to marry.

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First in the queue had been Philip himself.

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Historians still debate whether his proposal

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was driven by royal politics...

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religion...

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or even love.

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Philip proposes to Elizabeth soon after she becomes Queen

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because he doesn't want to give up being King of England.

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It was a jewel in his crown,

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and he isn't going to give it up without a fight.

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Also I think he had this sort of obligation to God, in a way.

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He said that he wasn't attracted to Elizabeth but it was the fact

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or the hope of saving Catholic souls

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that made him reluctantly propose to her.

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I think there was an attraction on Philip's part towards Elizabeth.

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Certainly she was a stark contrast, in those days, from her sister

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and I think, actually, that Philip was drawn to Elizabeth.

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Philip did not love Elizabeth. There's no evidence of this at all.

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This was a dynastic match, this was for religious reasons.

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Whether or not Philip's alleged love was genuine,

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it certainly wasn't requited.

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Elizabeth made him wait, manana, manana, so Philip waited,

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he waited for several weeks and then she turned him down.

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Now, three decades later, Philip wanted Elizabeth dead,

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and England for himself.

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Years of religious differences

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had bred an increasingly bitter animosity.

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Philip certainly wasn't pleased with the Protestant direction

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Elizabeth was taking her country in.

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He saw the mass being banned, he saw priests being outlawed.

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Torture was used and almost 200 men

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and women were executed in her reign for essentially religious reasons.

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In addition to this, England has not been out

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and found its own wealth but, instead, is attacking

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the Spanish treasure fleet as it's making its way back from the Indies.

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And this is state-sponsored piracy.

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The final straw for Philip

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was when Francis Drake made his famous raid on Cadiz,

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"the singeing of the King of Spain's beard," as it was called.

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It was one thing to try and intercept the treasure fleet,

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it was another thing to raid the coast of Spain itself.

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And if Philip could not respond to this,

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then his hold on his provinces was under threat.

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The time had come to stop this dead in its tracks.

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He decided after two months' rumination,

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the only way he could do that

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was to set up an Armada and invade Protestant England.

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BELL

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The cold war...was over.

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Philip's great Armada

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had finally set sail from Spain on the 21st of July, 1588...

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..intent on annihilating the English navy, Elizabeth,

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and all they stood for.

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BIRDSONG

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CHURCH BELL CHIMES

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Some weeks earlier,

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Elizabeth had cancelled all her public engagements.

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-Her entire court had moved to Richmond Palace...

-SQUAWKING

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..her country retreat outside London.

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BELL

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It's the place she always feels safest.

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She calls it her "warm box".

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And we can trace throughout her reign

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that she tends to go to Richmond

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when she's feeling particularly under threat.

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I'm as happy here as anywhere.

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Always so peaceful.

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As Elizabeth hid in Richmond,

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she surrounded herself with her menagerie of pets,

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her ladies-in-waiting,

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and the only person she could fully confide in,

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her oldest companion, Blanche Parry.

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Elizabeth had lost her own mother, Anne Boleyn,

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when she was just two years and eight months old.

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Blanche had entered her household very soon afterwards.

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I think there's no doubt that she was almost a replacement mother figure for Elizabeth.

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She is somebody that Elizabeth trusts.

0:22:130:22:17

And, of course, at this point

0:22:170:22:19

when Elizabeth is very, very fearful and apprehensive,

0:22:190:22:22

it's trust and people that have been with her for years

0:22:220:22:25

that she's going to increasingly rely on.

0:22:250:22:27

SIGHING

0:22:270:22:29

As her navy prepared for battle,

0:22:290:22:31

Elizabeth's ladies whiled away the hours.

0:22:310:22:34

-Your Majesty.

-Can't we let him off his leash? Just for a moment?

0:22:340:22:40

You know he'll run amok.

0:22:400:22:42

BLANCHE LAUGHS I feel for him.

0:22:420:22:45

BLANCHE LAUGHS SOFTLY

0:22:450:22:47

We can conjecture about how she might have felt.

0:22:470:22:51

She's a woman, she's unmarried,

0:22:510:22:54

she's childless, so there is no heir,

0:22:540:22:57

and she is also governing a country

0:22:570:23:01

where Catholicism is STILL present.

0:23:010:23:06

The threat to Elizabeth wasn't just from without, it was from within.

0:23:060:23:09

The great dread was that

0:23:090:23:11

there was this huge fifth column of Catholics

0:23:110:23:14

who were just ready to march under the papal banner.

0:23:140:23:17

ELIZABETH SIGHS

0:23:170:23:19

Even in her favourite palace, Elizabeth's life was still at risk.

0:23:190:23:24

Just for an hour, Blanche...

0:23:260:23:29

to breathe the air.

0:23:290:23:31

No-one need know.

0:23:330:23:35

It's safer...within the embrace of these walls.

0:23:370:23:41

Elizabeth has been constantly under threat of assassination.

0:23:410:23:46

And then of course the Pope excommunicates her.

0:23:460:23:49

He doesn't just sanction her death, he encourages it.

0:23:490:23:53

He encourages her subjects to kill the Queen of England.

0:23:530:23:57

Sometimes at night, I see such terrible things.

0:23:580:24:03

Women, children,

0:24:040:24:08

maids, sucking babes...

0:24:080:24:12

murdered.

0:24:120:24:15

Cast into the river...

0:24:160:24:19

turned red with blood.

0:24:190:24:22

GULLS SCREECH

0:24:280:24:30

Meanwhile, at four o'clock that same afternoon,

0:24:320:24:35

a small boat dropped anchor in Plymouth harbour.

0:24:350:24:38

It carried the news that England, and Elizabeth, had been dreading.

0:24:400:24:45

The boat's captain, Thomas Fleming,

0:24:450:24:48

had been patrolling in the western approaches of the Channel.

0:24:480:24:52

At dawn that day just off the Scilly Isles, he'd seen the Spanish ships.

0:24:520:24:56

And he sailed back here to let the navy know.

0:24:560:24:59

The English fleet was caught off-guard.

0:25:040:25:07

Still not ready, it had to set sail to meet the Spanish threat.

0:25:070:25:11

And on the afternoon of July 29th,

0:25:130:25:15

it faced yet another problem that could have proved disastrous.

0:25:150:25:20

Back in 1588, you couldn't just turn a ship's engine on

0:25:210:25:24

and go wherever you wanted to go whenever you wanted to go,

0:25:240:25:27

you were at the mercy of the conditions,

0:25:270:25:30

wind and tide had to be favourable.

0:25:300:25:32

Today's a great example. There's now a howling gale blowing me back towards Plymouth

0:25:320:25:35

and I'm fighting the tide too, which is flowing in.

0:25:350:25:38

And those are similar conditions to the ones

0:25:380:25:41

that Drake and the fleet faced that afternoon of 1588.

0:25:410:25:45

This explains one of the most famous stories about Drake's actions that day.

0:25:460:25:51

The old story goes that Sir Francis Drake

0:25:510:25:54

was right up there on Plymouth Hoe playing bowls

0:25:540:25:57

when the news arrived that the Spanish Armada had been sighted.

0:25:570:26:01

The legend has it that he calmly said,

0:26:010:26:04

"Well, we have time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards too."

0:26:040:26:08

Sadly, that certainly is a legend, it was invented decades later.

0:26:080:26:11

But if Sir Francis Drake had been playing bowls up there on that afternoon in 1588,

0:26:110:26:16

he would have known as a consummate sailor full well,

0:26:160:26:20

that he might as well finish the game because there was nothing else he could do.

0:26:200:26:23

The English fleet were effectively trapped by wind and tide right there in Plymouth harbour,

0:26:230:26:29

and there was no way they could go anywhere very quickly.

0:26:290:26:32

With the English fleet stuck in harbour,

0:26:350:26:38

Elizabeth's kingdom lay undefended.

0:26:380:26:41

For the Armada, it was an incredible opportunity to move in early...

0:26:410:26:46

and deal a decisive, killer blow.

0:26:460:26:49

For centuries we had little idea

0:26:500:26:53

what the Spanish commanders were thinking at this key moment,

0:26:530:26:56

until Professor Geoffrey Parker

0:26:560:26:59

began to explore some boxes of old papers in Madrid.

0:26:590:27:04

It's one of those amazing pieces of luck.

0:27:040:27:07

There were four boxes, in a series called Military Orders,

0:27:070:27:11

which just didn't seem to fit.

0:27:110:27:13

I was able to open them, undid the tape,

0:27:130:27:17

wondering what I was going to find.

0:27:170:27:20

And I opened them up...

0:27:200:27:23

and they said...Curious Papers.

0:27:230:27:26

And I thought, "Ohh, this is going to be interesting."

0:27:260:27:29

As Geoffrey painstakingly deciphered the near illegible handwriting,

0:27:310:27:36

he realised he'd stumbled across a treasure trove

0:27:360:27:39

that took him to the very heart of the Armada.

0:27:390:27:43

It took me a little while to figure out

0:27:430:27:46

that this was the series of exchanges

0:27:460:27:48

between the Duke of Medina Sidonia, the Commander of the Armada,

0:27:480:27:52

and his second in command, a man called Juan Martinez de Recalde.

0:27:520:27:56

And, in fact, it was Recalde's papers.

0:27:560:27:59

It's very unusual, I later discovered unique

0:27:590:28:02

to find correspondence between two unit commanders during a naval battle.

0:28:020:28:06

And it tells us why certain decisions were taken,

0:28:060:28:09

why there was a disagreement on tactics.

0:28:090:28:11

And it's not just any battle, this is the Spanish Armada.

0:28:110:28:15

MAN: Recalde.

0:28:170:28:19

This unique window into the Spanish command allows us, for the very first time,

0:28:190:28:25

to recreate just what was going on

0:28:250:28:27

as Philip's battle fleet approached Plymouth.

0:28:270:28:29

With God's blessing...we will crush the heretics.

0:28:290:28:34

There is no time to be wasted.

0:28:340:28:36

Like his English counterpart, Lord High Admiral Howard,

0:28:360:28:40

Medina Sidonia was a landed aristocrat

0:28:400:28:42

whose high social standing had put him in charge.

0:28:420:28:46

Astonishingly, Medina Sidonia

0:28:490:28:51

had never actually commanded a fleet at sea before.

0:28:510:28:54

The landlubber was actually quite uncomfortable afloat.

0:28:540:28:58

He wrote to King Philip saying, "I don't do well at sea."

0:28:580:29:01

And he begged Philip to give command of the Armada to someone else.

0:29:010:29:04

But the King was having none of it.

0:29:040:29:06

Luckily, for the Spanish, like Howard, Medina Sidonia

0:29:060:29:10

would be surrounded by his own group of experienced sea dogs.

0:29:100:29:13

He even had his own Drake - Recalde.

0:29:130:29:16

Like Drake, Recalde had worked his way up through the ranks of the navy

0:29:190:29:24

and was an expert sailor,

0:29:240:29:26

the most experienced commander of the entire Armada.

0:29:260:29:29

There is no time to be wasted,

0:29:290:29:31

it is better to destroy the serpent in its egg.

0:29:310:29:34

One letter reveals a startling plan.

0:29:360:29:39

Recalde proposed a direct and immediate attack on the English navy

0:29:390:29:44

while it lay tide-bound in Plymouth harbour.

0:29:440:29:48

Recalde makes it clear in his rather accusatory letter to Medina Sidonia

0:29:480:29:53

that there had been a counsel meeting the previous day.

0:29:530:29:55

I propose...we attack Plymouth.

0:29:550:29:59

We have no idea of the enemy's strength.

0:29:590:30:01

What we know is that the harbour is narrow and treacherous.

0:30:010:30:05

A first strike would be decisive.

0:30:050:30:07

You know the seas better than I.

0:30:070:30:10

What we need...is success for the King!

0:30:100:30:16

I'll drink to that.

0:30:160:30:18

But despite Recalde's entreaty, the Spanish did not attack.

0:30:180:30:22

Instead, they sailed on.

0:30:220:30:25

Recalde clearly thinks that it's been agreed

0:30:250:30:27

that they will indeed attack Plymouth

0:30:270:30:30

and he feels betrayed when they did not.

0:30:300:30:32

He says, "I don't know why we failed to enter Plymouth harbour."

0:30:320:30:38

"I feel downhearted," he writes,

0:30:380:30:40

"there are some very experienced people out there," meaning the English,

0:30:400:30:43

"and we behaved like novices and we made the wrong call."

0:30:430:30:46

Surely, Sam, here's a great opportunity, isn't it?

0:30:510:30:53

Because if the Spanish had attacked Plymouth,

0:30:530:30:55

either blockaded it or, even bolder still, come in and attacked the British ships at anchor,

0:30:550:31:00

had they not got an opportunity to destroy the defence of England in a single blow?

0:31:000:31:04

Absolutely. It is a clear opportunity.

0:31:040:31:07

And if they'd changed course and headed for Plymouth, that great port in the West Country,

0:31:070:31:11

then they certainly could have done something.

0:31:110:31:13

It's not necessarily clear cut if they could have removed the English fleet from the equation,

0:31:130:31:18

because attacking a fleet at anchor's actually very difficult,

0:31:180:31:21

but they could have certainly done something here in the south-west,

0:31:210:31:24

perhaps attack Plymouth, perhaps land in Falmouth or Torbay.

0:31:240:31:27

So we're agreed then, it's a missed opportunity,

0:31:270:31:30

and if it had been taken it could have been the end of Tudor England.

0:31:300:31:33

The experienced sailor, Recalde,

0:31:360:31:39

resented Medina Sidonia dismissing his advice.

0:31:390:31:42

He believed that decisive action

0:31:440:31:46

could have handed Spain a swift victory.

0:31:460:31:49

And he might well have been right.

0:31:510:31:54

The fact was, Medina Sidonia had absolutely no intention

0:31:540:31:58

of diverting from the plans given to him by Philip.

0:31:580:32:02

If he had done so, the life of Queen Elizabeth, and this story,

0:32:020:32:06

might virtually have been at an end.

0:32:060:32:09

Far to the south, the architect of the grand invasion plan

0:32:190:32:23

continued to work...

0:32:230:32:25

..unaware of exactly where his Armada was...

0:32:270:32:30

..or of the developing tensions between his two top commanders.

0:32:330:32:38

Your Majesty, how do you feel today?

0:32:380:32:41

PHILIP COUGHS

0:32:410:32:43

I feel there is not time enough in the world for me.

0:32:430:32:47

I will not stop.

0:32:470:32:50

Philip's orders had left no room for opportunistic attacks.

0:32:500:32:55

Carefully considered, he expected his plans to be carried out to the letter.

0:32:570:33:02

Philip had a choice of two plans that he could adopt.

0:33:040:33:08

The army came up with the idea of a quick incursion from the Spanish Netherlands,

0:33:080:33:12

where the Duke of Parma, his main military commander, was based

0:33:120:33:15

with a large army to shoot across the Channel and stage a smash-and-grab raid, if you like,

0:33:150:33:20

on England and depose the Queen that way.

0:33:200:33:23

His navy, naturally as navies do, wanted a seaborne force,

0:33:230:33:26

an Armada to set off from Spain and conquer England that way.

0:33:260:33:30

Philip had been given two choices...

0:33:320:33:35

but he'd taken neither.

0:33:350:33:37

Instead, he'd combined them into one seemingly invincible master plan.

0:33:370:33:44

Philip's master plan was for his ships

0:33:460:33:48

to sail up the Channel as quickly as possible.

0:33:480:33:51

Now, they would go the whole length of the Channel.

0:33:510:33:53

And the idea was for them to land here at Margate,

0:33:530:33:58

where they would join forces, in his words "join hands," with the Duke of Parma,

0:33:580:34:02

who had a vast army in the Spanish-controlled Netherlands.

0:34:020:34:05

Now, the Duke of Parma was Philip's nephew

0:34:050:34:07

and he was one of the greatest soldiers of his generation.

0:34:070:34:10

The Armada would then cover that army marching up the Thames to London.

0:34:100:34:15

It's a hugely ambitious and complex plan, isn't it, Sam?

0:34:150:34:19

But one thing is not in any doubt,

0:34:190:34:21

if that veteran Spanish army gets over to England,

0:34:210:34:24

we've pretty much got nothing left to oppose them with.

0:34:240:34:27

And it would do three major things for Philip.

0:34:270:34:29

It would consolidate his empire,

0:34:290:34:31

he could realise his dreams of a Catholic Europe,

0:34:310:34:33

and he could free the seas of irritating English piracy.

0:34:330:34:37

On the evening of July 29th, the Armada sailed on...

0:34:410:34:46

its mission clear...

0:34:460:34:49

..to "join hands" in the Channel with a battle-hardened Spanish army

0:34:490:34:54

and invade.

0:34:540:34:57

Army and navy together.

0:34:570:35:00

-Their might would be...

-Unstoppable.

0:35:000:35:04

CHURCH BELL CHIMES

0:35:070:35:09

CICADAS CHIRRUP

0:35:090:35:10

Another day passes.

0:35:140:35:16

-With no news.

-Take confidence from that.

0:35:160:35:20

In Madrid, and in Richmond,

0:35:200:35:23

Philip and Elizabeth prepared for bed.

0:35:230:35:26

Your bed is safe, Your Majesty.

0:35:280:35:31

I would hope so.

0:35:310:35:33

ELIZABETH LAUGHS WEAKLY

0:35:330:35:35

Both monarchs prayed for the blessing of an even greater power.

0:35:370:35:41

Philip was intensely religious.

0:35:430:35:46

PHILIP PRAYS IN LATIN

0:35:460:35:49

He had a cell-like bedroom surrounded by pictures of the saints.

0:35:490:35:53

And the Escorial wasn't just a palace,

0:35:530:35:55

it was a monastery and a church and a mausoleum.

0:35:550:35:58

And it seemed for him like it was an extra weapon in his crusade against Elizabeth.

0:35:580:36:04

PHILIP PRAYS IN LATIN

0:36:060:36:08

Philip believed fervently that God was on his side. How could he fail?

0:36:080:36:13

PHILIP PRAYS IN LATIN

0:36:130:36:16

And he believed that it was his own personal duty

0:36:160:36:20

to try and save those English Catholics

0:36:200:36:23

and revenge all those Catholic martyrs who had been slaughtered,

0:36:230:36:27

not only by Elizabeth, but by her father as well, Henry VIII.

0:36:270:36:32

In these last and worst days of the world,

0:36:320:36:37

when wars and seditions with grievous persecutions ...

0:36:370:36:41

Elizabeth was by inclination moderate,

0:36:410:36:43

she didn't want to force consciences,

0:36:430:36:45

but she did expect obedience from her subjects and she was devout.

0:36:450:36:50

The love of my people has appeared firm

0:36:500:36:54

and the devices of mine enemies frustrate.

0:36:540:36:58

Elizabeth made much of the fact that God was on her side.

0:36:580:37:03

Philip was on the side of the devil,

0:37:030:37:06

and that's how the contest was going to be played out.

0:37:060:37:09

World without end.

0:37:090:37:11

-Amen.

-Amen.

0:37:110:37:14

GULLS SCREECH

0:37:230:37:25

Dawn.

0:37:320:37:33

BOY SINGS IN LATIN

0:37:370:37:39

As morning prayers were sung,

0:37:420:37:43

the Armada continued its journey into the Channel.

0:37:430:37:48

HE CONTINUES SINGING IN LATIN

0:37:480:37:51

All was calm...

0:37:530:37:55

but the Spanish were wary of their easy progress.

0:37:550:37:59

There was no sight of the English navy,

0:37:590:38:03

and no way of knowing if it was still anchored in Plymouth,

0:38:030:38:06

or preparing to attack at any moment.

0:38:060:38:10

BOY CONTINUES SINGING IN LATIN

0:38:100:38:12

In fact, the English fleet had left port.

0:38:160:38:20

Overnight the tide had turned, the wind had changed,

0:38:200:38:22

they'd sailed down here out of Plymouth Sound.

0:38:220:38:25

But they had no intention of taking on the Spanish head-on.

0:38:250:38:29

Instead, they were going to try something far more cunning.

0:38:290:38:32

The English realised that the Armada was too big to take on directly.

0:38:340:38:38

So their plan was to stop the Spanish

0:38:410:38:43

from taking any harbour deep enough to use as a base...

0:38:430:38:46

..without getting themselves blown to pieces in the process.

0:38:480:38:52

You think that the Armada want to take a deep water port on the south coast of England, maybe Plymouth.

0:38:540:39:00

But their plan is to keep moving up,

0:39:000:39:02

constantly driving up towards Parma's army.

0:39:020:39:05

You're absolutely right. The English are pre-occupied

0:39:050:39:08

with the possibility the Spanish are going to take a deep-water port, they must prevent it.

0:39:080:39:12

First of all, get them away from Plymouth Sound.

0:39:120:39:14

But once they're out into the open, they're then going to put their master plan into operation,

0:39:140:39:18

which is to get behind the Armada, drive it up the Channel,

0:39:180:39:22

hopefully out the other end, and harry them like a terrier.

0:39:220:39:25

With the quality of our seamanship and the compactness of our formation

0:39:250:39:28

that's actually all you can do.

0:39:280:39:30

The English fleet first caught sight of the Spanish Armada

0:39:350:39:38

on Saturday 30th July at 3pm.

0:39:380:39:41

The weather had turned foul,

0:39:410:39:43

and so when a look-out on Howard's ship, who was up in the crow's nest high up in the mast,

0:39:430:39:47

was peering through the mist and the rain and he finally caught sight

0:39:470:39:51

of the Spanish ships just out there.

0:39:510:39:54

It was now time to turn plans into action...

0:40:000:40:04

and let the harrying begin.

0:40:040:40:08

But would it be enough?

0:40:080:40:10

Or would Philip's great Armada manage to successfully "join hands"

0:40:100:40:14

with the vast Spanish army...and invade?

0:40:140:40:18

Riders dispatched from Plymouth the previous day

0:40:250:40:27

reached Richmond Palace 24 hours later.

0:40:270:40:30

HORSE WHINNIES

0:40:300:40:32

The news was delivered first to Elizabeth's most trusted ministers,

0:40:370:40:42

Sir Francis Walsingham...

0:40:420:40:45

and Lord Burghley.

0:40:450:40:47

What news?

0:40:500:40:52

The Spanish are sighted...

0:40:520:40:54

..off the Lizard.

0:40:550:40:57

At our gates.

0:40:590:41:01

The two dominant figures in Elizabeth's court,

0:41:010:41:03

the Tweedledum and Tweedledee if you like, were Burghley and Walsingham.

0:41:030:41:08

They sail with more than 120 ships.

0:41:080:41:12

Might and malice to match.

0:41:150:41:17

Burghley was the most powerful man in England.

0:41:170:41:21

He'd known Elizabeth since she was a princess

0:41:210:41:24

and they'd had tough times together.

0:41:240:41:26

She trusted him and she relied on him to speak truth to power.

0:41:260:41:30

She called him her "spirit".

0:41:300:41:32

He wanted to avoid a confrontation, because it was incredibly expensive.

0:41:320:41:36

He was Lord High Treasurer,

0:41:360:41:37

he wanted to keep his hands on that purse.

0:41:370:41:40

Walsingham was Elizabeth's spy master.

0:41:420:41:44

He'd set up this incredibly sophisticated intelligence network.

0:41:440:41:48

And because of his experiences,

0:41:480:41:50

he'd seen at first hand the terror that Catholic Europe could contain,

0:41:500:41:55

he was always advising Elizabeth

0:41:550:41:57

towards an aggressive foreign policy.

0:41:570:42:00

Elizabeth's biggest problem was, I think,

0:42:000:42:02

that she listened to both opinions for action and for inaction

0:42:020:42:05

and dithered between the two of them.

0:42:050:42:07

Elizabeth vacillated.

0:42:090:42:13

Let's remember, she is a woman in a man's world.

0:42:130:42:16

When she makes up her mind,

0:42:160:42:18

she's stuck with the results of that decision.

0:42:180:42:21

So she looked at a decision from lots of different ways,

0:42:210:42:25

and frequently changed her mind once she'd made one.

0:42:250:42:28

Gentlemen.

0:42:280:42:30

We sued for peace...

0:42:300:42:32

but to no avail.

0:42:320:42:34

I pray you, speak plainly.

0:42:340:42:38

The time has come. A Holy War.

0:42:380:42:42

ELIZABETH SIGHS

0:42:420:42:43

I did not desire this...

0:42:430:42:47

but I did expect it.

0:42:470:42:50

Elizabeth, naturally, was very cautious.

0:42:500:42:53

She did not like spending money.

0:42:530:42:55

She naturally favoured Burghley's very conservative foreign policy.

0:42:550:43:01

But equally, she was justifiably aware

0:43:010:43:05

of the threat posed to her safety by the powers of Catholic Europe.

0:43:050:43:10

What is clear is that we cannot afford to stand idle.

0:43:100:43:14

We must strike...and strike hard.

0:43:140:43:17

And if that fails? When we have nothing left to strike with?

0:43:170:43:20

With the Armada looming,

0:43:200:43:23

Elizabeth knew the time for havering was over.

0:43:230:43:26

She really had nowhere else to go.

0:43:260:43:29

She knew she'd have to fight.

0:43:290:43:31

And those ships, those wooden walls defending England,

0:43:310:43:36

were the only thing between her and oblivion.

0:43:360:43:39

Your Majesty, you must meet this battle,

0:43:390:43:43

for the sake of England.

0:43:430:43:46

For you.

0:43:460:43:48

Then we shall prevail...

0:43:490:43:52

for God's favour is with me.

0:43:520:43:54

Then God will help us all.

0:43:550:43:57

Let all of England...taste victory.

0:43:590:44:05

Out in the Channel, both sides were preparing for battle.

0:44:180:44:22

Many no doubt were praying,

0:44:220:44:24

some were checking weapons and ammunition.

0:44:240:44:27

The ships on both sides were bristling with cannon,

0:44:270:44:29

most ships had between 20-50 cannon.

0:44:290:44:33

And they would be firing cannonballs, some light, about 6lbs,

0:44:330:44:37

others up to 60lbs of iron,

0:44:370:44:40

waiting to crash through wooden hulls and rigging.

0:44:400:44:45

Despite the sheer might of the Armada,

0:44:490:44:52

the English did have some reason for hope.

0:44:520:44:55

Superior weapons created by new English technology.

0:44:550:45:01

The great revolution in the 16th century

0:45:030:45:05

was an amazing technological advance, it led to the Industrial Revolution,

0:45:050:45:10

and this was the introduction of the blast furnace for cast iron.

0:45:100:45:15

-Traditionally, cannons had been handmade...

-HAMMERING

0:45:170:45:20

..the metal crafted into shape.

0:45:200:45:23

Cannonballs had been hand carved... from stone.

0:45:230:45:27

HAMMERING

0:45:270:45:29

The blast furnace enables you to melt large quantities of cast iron,

0:45:290:45:34

it flows like water, so you can pour it into moulds.

0:45:340:45:37

You can make repeated items exactly the same.

0:45:390:45:43

It was cannonballs first,

0:45:430:45:45

it was then used to make the first cannon in England.

0:45:450:45:49

These iron guns were much cheaper,

0:45:490:45:52

they could be made fairly consistently

0:45:520:45:55

and they could be issued with large quantities

0:45:550:45:58

of consistent, standardised cannonballs.

0:45:580:46:01

England was ahead of the rest of Europe.

0:46:030:46:07

New technology furnished the English navy with cannon

0:46:080:46:11

that were more accurate and more powerful than those of the Spanish.

0:46:110:46:16

But would that be enough to even break the tight formation of the Armada,

0:46:180:46:22

let alone defeat it?

0:46:220:46:25

-First light.

-MAN SHOUTS IN SPANISH

0:46:350:46:38

And a Spanish lookout finally spotted the English navy.

0:46:380:46:42

But it wasn't where the Spanish were expecting it to be.

0:46:420:46:46

The Spanish were expecting the English to appear in front of them,

0:46:500:46:53

to contest their march up the Channel.

0:46:530:46:56

But instead the English did something quite different,

0:46:560:46:58

they split into two groups, came round behind the Spanish,

0:46:580:47:02

and prepared to launch a pincer attack.

0:47:020:47:04

Medina Sidonia ordered the Spanish royal standard to be raised,

0:47:060:47:11

the signal for the Armada to get into battle formation,

0:47:110:47:14

a crescent of ships stretching for over two miles.

0:47:140:47:19

Then at 9am, in a piece of old-fashioned chivalry,

0:47:190:47:22

Howard decided to officially throw down the gauntlet to the Spanish.

0:47:220:47:25

He sent ahead a small ship, appropriately called the Disdain,

0:47:250:47:28

which fired one shot into the midst of the Armada...

0:47:280:47:32

and then quickly turned round

0:47:320:47:33

and headed back to rejoin the English fleet.

0:47:330:47:35

With that, the first battle against the Spanish Armada had begun.

0:47:350:47:41

MEN SHOUT

0:47:410:47:43

Now, we've surprised you by our position, Sam,

0:47:460:47:50

but the English have also got another trick up their sleeve,

0:47:500:47:52

-the way they're going to fight.

-Oh, yeah?

0:47:520:47:55

Their tactics are to use new and more effective guns,

0:47:550:47:59

but also the way they're going to use them, this is going to surprise the Spanish.

0:47:590:48:02

Traditionally, what the Spaniards are expecting

0:48:020:48:05

is to have boarding actions

0:48:050:48:06

where the ships will come up close alongside,

0:48:060:48:09

the soldiers'll pile in with grappling hooks,

0:48:090:48:11

there'll be lots of stabbing, and fighting, and slashing,

0:48:110:48:13

and they'll settle the matter in hand-to-hand combat.

0:48:130:48:16

That's exactly what they expect and they want the English to do.

0:48:160:48:19

Now, that's exactly what the English didn't want to do.

0:48:190:48:22

They didn't want to close with the Spanish ships,

0:48:220:48:24

which were bigger and they were packed with more men.

0:48:240:48:27

Instead, they wanted to stand off, keep their distance,

0:48:270:48:29

and blast them with cannon fire.

0:48:290:48:32

Now, to us today that seems entirely logical, but for the Spanish,

0:48:320:48:36

it was pretty much the first time they'd ever seen this.

0:48:360:48:39

MEN HOLLER

0:48:430:48:45

The Spanish soldiers were stuck on their decks,

0:48:450:48:48

and could only taunt an enemy...

0:48:480:48:51

who refused to come close.

0:48:510:48:54

MEN HOLLER

0:48:540:48:56

Now, the one problem you're going to have is that if there's one thing the Spanish are good at,

0:48:560:49:00

it's maintaining close formation under hostile attack,

0:49:000:49:03

it's how the Spanish empire works.

0:49:030:49:05

They usually protect their silver convoys going across to the New World.

0:49:050:49:08

This time they're protecting their vulnerable troop ships in the centre of this crescent formation.

0:49:080:49:14

And they're very good at seamanship,

0:49:140:49:16

they're good at maintaining their position in this tight crescent formation.

0:49:160:49:19

It's absolutely true, it's a formidable formation,

0:49:190:49:22

but it has a couple of weaknesses and I'll show you were they are.

0:49:220:49:25

These two arms of the crescent,

0:49:250:49:27

if we can use our ships to close up pretty effectively

0:49:270:49:30

and then we can fire our guns at a distance in a continual rolling fire.

0:49:300:49:34

And if you have enough of these ships sailing one after the other after the other, using their broadsides,

0:49:340:49:40

you've almost got a primitive machinegun.

0:49:400:49:43

HUBBUB

0:49:520:49:53

-MAN:

-Fire!

0:49:560:49:57

Drake and Howard lined up their squadrons

0:49:570:49:59

and launched a relentless barrage against the Armada.

0:49:590:50:03

-MAN:

-Come on!

0:50:030:50:05

MEN SHOUT

0:50:050:50:06

This was one of the first times

0:50:140:50:15

this had ever happened on this scale in European naval history.

0:50:150:50:18

Over the next couple of hours,

0:50:180:50:20

the English managed to fire off around 2,000 shots.

0:50:200:50:23

The Spanish only got in 750 in reply.

0:50:230:50:26

HUBBUB

0:50:260:50:27

What people were witnessing here was a revolution in military tactics.

0:50:300:50:35

The English called off the attack after two hours,

0:50:420:50:45

having driven the Armada beyond Plymouth.

0:50:450:50:49

But the reality was the Armada had never been planning to enter Plymouth,

0:50:490:50:53

and for all their rapid cannon fire,

0:50:530:50:56

the English hadn't actually inflicted that much damage.

0:50:560:50:59

So often the details of historic battles are lost,

0:51:040:51:08

but because of Professor Geoffrey Parker's discoveries,

0:51:080:51:12

we know that the Armada's second-in-command, Recalde,

0:51:120:51:16

immediately understood the English tactics.

0:51:160:51:20

One of the things I most admire about Recalde,

0:51:200:51:23

he sees instantly what the English are up to

0:51:230:51:26

and he writes to Medina Sidonia saying, "We're not doing well here."

0:51:260:51:31

And he says, "In future we need to make sure that our enemies

0:51:310:51:35

"don't consume us little by little - poco a poco - and without risk to themselves.

0:51:350:51:40

"We should rather put all our eggs in one basket

0:51:400:51:43

"and the sooner the better for this fleet and for the army."

0:51:430:51:48

So Recalde's strategy is

0:51:480:51:50

turn the fleet around and hit the English hard now.

0:51:500:51:54

But once again, Medina Sidonia ignored Recalde's advice

0:51:550:52:00

and dutifully sailed on, following Philip's master plan.

0:52:000:52:04

After the battle off Plymouth, for all the smoke and noise,

0:52:120:52:16

neither side had lost a single ship.

0:52:160:52:19

But that was about to change.

0:52:210:52:24

All that day, local people lined these cliffs around Plymouth

0:52:250:52:29

watching the great battle out at sea for the fate of England.

0:52:290:52:33

For those who'd never heard anything louder than a church bell or a clap of thunder,

0:52:330:52:37

the noise of these several hundred cannon reverberating off these hills must have been almost deafening.

0:52:370:52:44

But the loudest explosion of all

0:52:440:52:46

would come that afternoon at four o'clock.

0:52:460:52:48

One Spanish ship, the San Salvador, blew up.

0:52:530:52:56

Now, we don't know why or how, but there are some accounts

0:52:560:52:59

that there was a disgruntled Dutch or German sailor on board

0:52:590:53:02

who set fire to the powder store and then legged it overboard.

0:53:020:53:05

In any case, 200 Spanish sailors drowned. It was a massive own goal.

0:53:050:53:09

It's not the only disaster that day, because that same afternoon, a second ship, the Rosario,

0:53:090:53:14

another of your most powerful fighting ships, bumps into first one ship then another,

0:53:140:53:20

the foremast comes down into the mainmast and completely disables the steering.

0:53:200:53:25

Medina Sidonia would have loved to have gone back to rescue the Rosario,

0:53:250:53:29

but he didn't feel he could deviate just one little bit

0:53:290:53:31

from the master plan given to him by King Philip.

0:53:310:53:34

So, reluctantly, he led the Armada on up the Channel.

0:53:340:53:38

The Rosario was left to its fate.

0:53:430:53:46

Recalde was appalled

0:53:460:53:49

and vented his feelings in a hastily written letter,

0:53:490:53:52

discovered by Professor Geoffrey Parker over 400 years later.

0:53:520:53:57

He's absolutely furious.

0:54:000:54:02

"I can't begin to tell your Excellency how grievously I felt the loss of the ship."

0:54:020:54:07

And then he goes on to say, "If we'd laid to, if we'd drawn in sail,

0:54:070:54:12

"the situation could have been remedied. In the position we were in, we could have done it."

0:54:120:54:17

I think this is the point where perhaps Recalde's beginning to think

0:54:170:54:21

Medina Sidonia is not the right man for the job.

0:54:210:54:24

As the Armada sailed on, shadowed by the English fleet,

0:54:250:54:28

the commanders took stock of the day's events.

0:54:280:54:32

Medina Sidonia hadn't been able to get close to the English navy,

0:54:340:54:38

and he'd already lost two great ships.

0:54:380:54:42

Meanwhile, Howard and Drake were no happier...

0:54:470:54:51

all too aware of the formidable strength of their enemy.

0:54:510:54:56

-Two ships down.

-Better we'd dealt the deadly blows.

0:54:560:54:59

We'll puck their feathers little by little.

0:55:030:55:06

That's a lot of plucking.

0:55:060:55:08

But they were already concerned by a serious problem,

0:55:110:55:14

caused by their rapid-firing tactics.

0:55:140:55:17

Quite simply, the English were lacking crucial ammunition, powder and shot for their cannon.

0:55:210:55:27

So much so that that very night, Howard wrote to London,

0:55:270:55:31

he wrote to Walsingham, asking for more supplies.

0:55:310:55:35

But he knew that, in all likelihood,

0:55:350:55:37

that request would fall on deaf ears.

0:55:370:55:39

Elizabeth's finances are in a parlous state,

0:55:430:55:47

the coffers are bare and Elizabeth doesn't want

0:55:470:55:50

to go to parliament to ask for more tax revenue.

0:55:500:55:53

In a sense, she doesn't want to be in hock to parliament.

0:55:530:55:57

MONKEY CHITTERS ELIZABETH GASPS

0:55:580:56:01

Brazen-faced jackanapes!

0:56:010:56:03

Please remove the monkey, Bess.

0:56:030:56:06

Your Majesty.

0:56:060:56:08

He takes what is mine without fear nor favour.

0:56:080:56:11

She had spent quite a lot of money

0:56:110:56:14

on building up brand-new ships for her navy,

0:56:140:56:17

but now she didn't really want to spend money on ammunition, or indeed food to feed her sailors,

0:56:170:56:24

because her cupboard was bare.

0:56:240:56:26

To the Tower with the impertinent ape!

0:56:260:56:29

ELIZABETH CACKLES

0:56:330:56:36

A jest, that was all!

0:56:360:56:39

ELIZABETH LAUGHS

0:56:390:56:41

Even at this time of great crisis,

0:56:410:56:43

Elizabeth was failing to properly provide for her navy.

0:56:430:56:47

She was clearly hoping it would defeat the Spanish Armada

0:56:480:56:50

without any further financial assistance.

0:56:500:56:53

She was, basically, sending it into battle with one arm tied behind its back.

0:56:530:56:57

Being short of ammunition was bad,

0:57:000:57:02

but things were about to get much worse.

0:57:020:57:05

That evening, Howard ordered Drake to lead the English navy

0:57:060:57:10

during the night with a light on the stern of his ship, the Revenge.

0:57:100:57:15

But, ever the maverick, Drake had other plans...

0:57:150:57:19

..and he extinguished the flame.

0:57:210:57:23

He knew exactly where the Rosario lay stricken,

0:57:260:57:30

and for such a seasoned pirate, the fully-stocked Spanish ship

0:57:300:57:34

was simply too much of a temptation.

0:57:340:57:37

It was an extraordinary dereliction of duty, but Drake, in typical fashion,

0:57:390:57:43

was about to stumble across a great treasure trove, gold and ammunition,

0:57:430:57:47

but something even more important than that...intelligence.

0:57:470:57:50

Intelligence that was to give the English a hope

0:57:500:57:53

that they could in fact defeat this, the greatest naval force on the planet,

0:57:530:57:57

keep their country independent and Protestant,

0:57:570:58:00

and their Queen Elizabeth...alive.

0:58:000:58:03

Next time.

0:58:080:58:10

The Armada sails ever closer.

0:58:100:58:13

MAN: Remember, speed. Now!

0:58:130:58:16

Drake tries out new tactics.

0:58:160:58:19

Whoa!

0:58:190:58:20

And the battles for England grow ever more intense.

0:58:200:58:24

Subtitles by Ericsson

0:58:280:58:31

In the first part of a major three-part drama documentary series, Anita Dobson stars as Elizabeth I, and Dan Snow takes to the sea to tell the story of how England came within a whisker of disaster in summer 1588. Newly discovered documents take us right inside the Spanish Armada for the very first time and reveal a missed opportunity that could have spelled the end of Tudor England.


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