Why did the Spanish Armada Fail?


1584- Philip II of Spain appoints the Marquis of Santa Cruz as Captain General of the Ocean Sea.


1585- Philip II considers the possibility of invading England.


1586- Philip II invites The Marquis of Santa Cruz and Parma to prepare an invasion plan.


1586- Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, nominates Philip II as her successor to the English throne.


1587 February- Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, is executed after being found guilty of plotting to overthrow Elizabeth I.

April-June- Sir Francis Drake raids Cadiz and other coastal towns in Spain, sinking and capturing around 30 Spanish ships and destroying supplies, delaying the Armada preparations for nearly a whole year!

September- The Duke of Parma assembles an invading fore in the Netherlands. Philip II issues instructions for the invasion of England, although Philip had made his instructions it didn't follow them in any case.

December- Philip II directs the Marquis of Santa Cruz to assemble ships for the Armada and to get them ready to sail as soon as possible. After receiving intelligence that the Spanish Armada is preparing to invade England, Elizabeth I mobilizes the English Fleet.


1588 January- The English Fleet is reduced in strength when reports are received that the Armada is not ready to sail due to Drakes damage on the fleet.

February- The Marquis of Santa Cruz dies. Philip II appoints the Duke of Medina Sidonia as the new commander of the Armada. He was soon to realise that this was a bad choice. This was a major set back for the Spanish because their navy chief had died and they had to appoint a none-experienced noble in his place. He was chosen purely and simply because of his rank in the country!

28th-30th May -The Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon.

2nd June- Lord Admiral Howard's squadron joins Sir Francis Drake's ships at Plymouth.

19th June- The Armada makes its way to Corunna to take on supplies of food and drink. During the night the Spanish fleet is scattered by storms.

4th July- English ships were sent out to locate the Armada.

21st-22nd July- The Armada sets sail for the second time. The English ships return to Plymouth.

29th July- The Armada is sighted as it approaches the coast of Cornwall. That evening the Western Squadron makes its way out of Plymouth Sound and into The English Channel.

30th July- The Western Squadron manages to get behind the Spanish Armada as it sails slowly towards Plymouth.

31st July- The battle near Plymouth. In the afternoon the Rosario loses her foremast in a collision and later the San Salvador catches fire and explodes.

1st August- Early in the morning the crippled Rosario is captured by Sir Francis Drake. The badly damaged San Salvador is captured by the English and towed to Weymouth.

2nd August- There was a battle near Portland Bill.

3rd August- Sea fights take place off the Needles, as ships approach The Isle of Wight.

4th August- The battle near the Isle of Wight.

5th August- The Armada, closely followed by the Western Squadron, sails towards the Straits of Dover.

6th August- Ships of the Spanish Armada and the Western Squadron anchor near Calais. Lord Henry Seymour’s Narrow Seas Squadron joins the Western Squadron.

7-8th August- Late in the evening the English launch fireship attacks against the anchored Spanish Fleet. The English were able to fool the Spanish into thinking that they were hell-burners, so they cut their anchor cables and scattered to avoid the them thinking that they would explode at any second... but they didn't!

8th August- The Battle off Gravelines. At least one ship is sunk and another is stranded at Calais. The Dutch later captures three ships.

9th August- Ships of the Spanish Armada face danger as they are driven by the wind and tide towards the Flemish sandbanks. Just after mid-day, the wind direction changes and the Armada is able to sail northwards.

10-11th August- English ships pursue the Armada as it sails northwards. Hearing that the Duke of Parma's invasion force is ready to embark, Seymour's Narrow Seas Squadron returns to the English Channel.

12th August- English ships pursuing the Armada, give up the chase and return to English ports.

13th August- The Duke of Medina Sidonia, Commander of the Armada, orders the remaining ships in his fleet to sail round Scotland and make for Spain.

18th August- Elizabeth I reviews her troops at Tilbury and makes her famous 'I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman' speech.

21st August- The Armada breaks up as it rounds the coast of Scotland and enters the Atlantic.

1-21st September- Bad weather forces a number of the Spanish ships on to the coast of Ireland, where many are wrecked. Most people droned but the people who got to the land were then killed anyway!

22nd September-14th October- Surviving ships of the Armada reach Spain.


This Timeline is very similar, but not exactly the same as the one on THE SPANISH ARMADA WEBSITE... it has extras!

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