Elizabethan Sea Dogs eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about Elizabethan Sea Dogs.

Except you see a dog in a doublet you shall not see any so disguised as are my countrymen of England.  Women also do far exceed the lightness of our men.  What shall I say of their galligascons to bear out their attire and make it fit plum round?’ But the wives of ‘citizens and burgesses,’ like all nouveaux riches, were still more bizarre than the courtiers.  ’They cannot tell when or how to make an end, being women in whom all kind of curiosity is to be seen in far greater measure than in women of higher calling.  I might name hues devised for the nonce, ver d’oye ’twixt green and yallow, peas-porridge tawny, popinjay blue, and the Devil-in-the-head.’

Yet all this crude absurdity, ‘from the courtier to the carter,’ was the glass reflecting the constantly increasing sea-borne trade, ever pushing farther afield under the stimulus and protection of the sea-dogs.  And the Queen took precious good care that it all paid toll to her treasury through the customs, so that she could have more money to build more ships.  And if her courtiers did stuff their breeches out with sawdust, she took equally good care that each fighting man among them donned his uniform and raised his troops or fitted out his ships when the time was ripe for action.



Said Francis I of France to Charles V, King of Spain:  ’Your Majesty and the King of Portugal have divided the world between you, offering no part of it to me.  Show me, I pray you, the will of our father Adam, so that I may see if he has really made you his only universal heirs!’ Then Francis sent out the Italian navigator Verrazano, who first explored the coast from Florida to Newfoundland.  Afterwards Jacques Cartier discovered the St. Lawrence; Frenchmen took Havana twice, plundered the Spanish treasure-ships, and tried to found colonies—­Catholic in Canada, Protestant in Florida and Brazil.

Thus, at the time when Elizabeth ascended the throne of England in 1558, there was a long-established New Spain extending over Mexico, the West Indies, and most of South America; a small New Portugal confined to part of Brazil; and a shadowy New France running vaguely inland from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, nowhere effectively occupied, and mostly overlapping prior English claims based on the discoveries of the Cabots.

England and France had often been enemies.  England and Spain had just been allied in a war against France as well as by the marriage of Philip and Mary.  William Hawkins had traded with Portuguese Brazil under Henry VIII, as the Southampton merchants were to do later on.  English merchants lived in Lisbon and Cadiz; a few were even settled in New Spain; and a friendly Spaniard had been so delighted by the prospective union of the English with the Spanish crown that he had given the name of Londres (London) to a new settlement in the Argentine Andes.

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Elizabethan Sea Dogs from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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