This first of the two battles fought at Gravelines brings us down to 1558, the year in which Mary died, Elizabeth succeeded her, and a very different English age began.
LIFE AFLOAT IN TUDOR TIMES
Two stories from Hakluyt’s Voyages will illustrate what sort of work the English were attempting in America about 1530, near the middle of King Henry’s reign. The success of ‘Master Haukins’ and the failure of ‘Master Hore’ are quite typical of several other adventures in the New World.
’Olde M. William Haukins of Plimmouth, a man for his wisdome, valure, experience, and skill in sea causes much esteemed and beloved of King Henry the eight, and being one of the principall Sea Captaines in the West partes of England in his time, not contented with the short voyages commonly then made onely to the knowen coastes of Europe, armed out a tall and goodlie ship of his owne, of the burthen of 250 tunnes, called the Pole of Plimmouth, wherewith he made three long and famous voyages vnto the coast of Brasill, a thing in those days very rare, especially to our Nation.’ Hawkins first went down the Guinea Coast of Africa, ‘where he trafiqued with the Negroes, and tooke of them Oliphants’ teeth, and other commodities which that place yeeldeth; and so arriving on the coast of Brasil, used there such discretion, and behaved himselfe so wisely with those savage people, that he grew into great familiaritie and friendship with them. Insomuch that in his 2 voyage one of the savage kings of the Countrey of Brasil was contented to take ship with him, and to be transported hither into England. This kinge was presented unto King Henry 8. The King and all the Nobilitie did not a little marvel; for in his cheeks were holes, and therein small bones planted, which in his Countrey was reputed for a great braverie.’ The poor Brazilian monarch died on his voyage back, which made Hawkins fear for the life of Martin Cockeram, whom he had left in Brazil as a hostage. However, the Brazilians took Hawkins’s word for it and released Cockeram, who lived another forty years in Plymouth. ’Olde M. William Haukins’ was the father of Sir John Hawkins, Drake’s companion in arms, whom we shall meet later. He was also the grandfather of Sir Richard Hawkins, another naval hero, and of the second William Hawkins, one of the founders of the greatest of all chartered companies, the Honourable East India Company.