The Golden Hind had been brought round to London, where she was the greatest attraction of the day. Finally, on the 4th of April, 1581, Elizabeth went on board in state, to a banquet ’finer than has ever been seen in England since King Henry VIII,’ said the furious Spanish ambassador in his report to Philip. But this was not her chief offence in Spanish eyes. For here, surrounded by her court, and in the presence of an enormous multitude of her enthusiastic subjects, she openly defied the King of Spain. ‘He hath demanded Drake’s head of me,’ she laughed aloud, ‘and here I have a gilded sword to strike it off.’ With that she bade Drake kneel. Then, handing the sword to Marchaumont, the special envoy of her French suitor, Francis of Anjou, she ordered him to give the accolade. This done, she pronounced the formula of immemorial fame: I bid thee rise, Sir Francis Drake!
DRAKE CLIPS THE WINGS OF SPAIN
For three years after Drake had been dubbed Sir Francis by the Queen he was the hero of every class of Englishmen but two: the extreme Roman Catholics, who wanted Mary Queen of Scots, and the merchants who were doing business with Portugal and Spain. The Marian opposition to the general policy of England persisted for a few years longer. But the merchants who were the inheritors of centuries of commercial intercourse with England’s new enemies were soon to receive a shock that completely changed their minds. They were themselves one of the strongest factors that made for war in the knotty problem now to be solved at the cannon’s mouth because English trade was seeking new outlets in every direction and was beating hard against every door that foreigners shut in its face. These merchants would not, however, support the war party till they were forced to, as they still hoped to gain by other means what only war could win.
The year that Drake came home (1580) Philip at last got hold of a sea-going fleet, the eleven big Portuguese galleons taken when Lisbon fell. With the Portuguese ships, sailors, and oversea possessions, with more galleons under construction at Santander in Spain, and with the galleons of the Indian Guard built by the great Menendez to protect New Spain: with all this performed or promised, Philip began to feel as if the hour was at hand when he could do to England what she had done to him.
In 1583 Santa Cruz, the best Spanish admiral since the death of Menendez, proposed to form the nucleus of the Great Armada out of the fleet with which he had just broken down the last vestige of Portuguese resistance in the Azores. From that day on, the idea was never dropped. At the same time Elizabeth discovered the Paris Plot between Mary and Philip and the Catholics of France, all of whom were bent on her destruction. England stood to arms. But false ideas of naval defence were uppermost in