Episode 15: The Spanish Armada vs God’s Chosen People

The way England survived the 3 Spanish Armadas was a miracle. We use the boxing metaphor of a flyweight fighting a heavyweight. This comes up again in episode 21.

By the time the Armadas were defeated and the Marian period with its spanish influence at court was ended, a powerful myth was born. Some historians credit this myth with supplying the metaphysical energy needed for the people of a small island to dominate the world. Certainly, it was widely believed at the time. We spend a little time on Drake’s devotion to Foxe and point out that many of the Elizabethan pirates would have thought of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs as literally true.

There is more to come on Elizabeth’s pirates, but late in her reign pirates had taken roughly 1,000 ships as prizes. Some of the richest prizes were Portuguese as the Spanish and Portuguese crowns were joined at this time.


A map of the European Colonization on the Atlantic Coast.  Settled very late for many reasons among which was the Spanish tendency to exterminate any European settlement that they could.
A painting of Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary or Mary I.
An artist’s interpretation of William Cecil.

Artistic interpretations of the  Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Spanish Armada. 
An artist’s interpretation of Francis Drake

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

This is a book whose impact is hard to over sell.  The first introduction to history for many English people.  It argued that resistance to tyrants was a virtue and that England’s greatness was revealed by the way all genders and classes  resisted the Marian tyranny.

This is the Bedazzled 1967 Harald made reference to in this episode. The relevant part is at 2:30.