The downfall of the armada began before the ships even set sailed and concluded when Over half the crew had been wrecked. The Reason for the Armadas failure is because of Poor Planning in Spain prior to the Spanish Armada setting sail, Medina Sidonia poorly leading his troops, and the changing weather and strong navy force from the british. Chances of the Spanish winning could have increased immensely if only they had been smarter with their planning and not so one track minded with taking down the English and turning them into catholics.
When the spanish we’re in the early stages of planning the attack on the british, they realised an invasion on a country like england wouldn’t be as easy as they thought. The reason for this wasn’t because England had a strong navy but because they had a smart, cunning navy who would be able to spot the spanish coming from the coast of the Country.
Another problem that came up was the loss of 30 spanish ships over the course of a couple months in 1586 when Sir Francis Drake attacked cadiz. BBC) The next problem that arose, which also became a problem after the armada set sail, was the poor communication between Parma and Spain(and the Armada after the ships had set sail). So when the Armada arrived at Calais, they got word that Parma wasn’t ready to invade England, but current research shows that Parma actually we’re prepared but they had informed soldiers not fighting against England that they would not be fighting to keep it as secret as possible. Thus a long delay occurred off the coast of Calais.
This brought up another problem that could have easily been avoided before the Armada set sail. When Philip was planning the attack he didn’t bother to look at the geographical layout of the english channel. The coast where Parma’s army were waiting the coast was very shallow and not a very steep gradient at all. (Bezzer) The sand was less than 20 metres deep for up to a mile out to sea and the Armada’s ships needed at least 20 metres. (bbc) But these were only the problems that were overseen before the Armada set sail.
Many problems arose once the Armada set sail, and one major belief as to why the Spanish lost is the poor leadership of Medina Sidonia. (History) Medina Sidonia was not King Philip’s first choice as leader of the Armada. Originally King Philip put the Lord High Admiral Alvaro de Bazan, the Marques de Santa Cruz, in charge of commanding the invasion, but in 1586 he died, leaving King Philip with no choice but to find the next best person. (Spartacus) Thus, he picked a wealthy and noble general, Medina Sidonia, to lead the Spanish to england.
This seemed like the option of most logic for King Philip, though it turned out Medina Sidonia had never even been on a ship, let alone commanded a fleet of 130 ships to battle a country with a notably fierce and strong, but small, navy. (bbc) During the first days at sea, Medina was seasick and in no condition to fight a war. A key moment in poor leadership is when the English sent the fire ships out to float into the huddled fleet of the Armada, off the coast of Calais.
It is said that Medina Sidonia had warned the fleet that the English would potentially send fire ships towards them and if that was so, to not panic and to stay put. Though all but 6 ships (including Medina Sidonia’s ship, The San Martin), stayed put. (Spartacus) The other 124 ships fled eastward into the channel and as a result, no Spanish ships were affected by the fire ships. Even though the fire ships failed to do damage to the spanish, it set the English up for easy attacks on small groups of ships, which proved to be more effective than the destruction of a couple ships.
After the formation of the Armada fell apart and the battle of Gravelines, Medina Sidonia fled up the channel to the north east and returned back to Spain with the remaining Armada ships; completely opposite of what you would expect from an army of 130 ships to do in battle. This, though, was the result of a strong navy force from the British. The British had a small, but a very fierce and forceful navy which did what most navy’s of larger size couldn’t even think to do. Sir Francis Drake gets most of the credit for the English’s victory over Spain for he had cunning idea after cunning idea up his sleeve and a drive to take down the spanish egardless of the conditions. (Assignment 16) The english, aside from drakes great leadership skills as a navy commander, had well built ships and good weaponry. Many sources state that the English ships were small and could maneuver around the spanish ships but in recent modern research studies and evidence shows that the English ships were in fact much larger than the biggest of Spanish ships. What the british had that kept them ahead was their firing range and cunning tactics. The British had to be smart to win the battle.
Their cannons could fire from a range that the Spanish ships couldn’t fire back at. (bbc) The English also had better trained gunmen who could reload cannons much faster than the spanish could. Infact, the English were so skilled in the art of reloading cannons that they ran out of ammo multiple times. (Bezzer) Their ship placement was crucial to the victory, and the English had a way of going about attacking the Spanish so that they would creep up on them from odd angles, shoot a bunch of cannon balls at them, then sail away as fast as they could before the Spanish could fire back.
This didn’t do much damage to the spanish ships but it did damage to the gunmen on their ships and the rest of their crew, leaving the ships with little to no use. (Assignment 14) Thus, the Spanish gave up after the loss of a couple ships at the battle of Gravelines and sailed up the channel, around Scotland and Ireland, with only about half of the ships making it through the treacherous sea conditions and the stormy weather conditions. Europes largest navy force of the time was defeated by one of the smallest navys.
Causes for the defeat were many, such as; poor planning prior to the sailing of the Armada, bad leadership and commandment from Medina sidonia, the Armadas captain, and a cunning and strong naval force from Englands small navy. Over the course of 13 days of battle, over 60 Armada ships were either wrecked or captured, over half the Spanish crew dead or wounded, and little to no damage done to the English. The attack of the Spain on England was a sure victory for the English and one of the most well studied and pinpointed battles in the history of Western Europe.
Cite this The Battle of 1588: the Spanish Armada
The Battle of 1588: the Spanish Armada. (2017, Jan 31). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-battle-of-1588-the-spanish-armada/