Brief account of the Expedition of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Notwithstanding the great hurt and spoil made by Sir Francis Drake in Cadiz roads the year before, by intercepting some part of the preparations intended for the great navy of the king of Spain, he used his utmost endeavours to be revenged this year, lest by longer delay his designs might be prevented as before; wherefore he arrested all ships, men, and necessaries that were wanting for his fleet, compelling every one to serve him in his great expedition. He appointed for general of this his so called Invincible Armada, the duke of Medina Sidonia, who was employed on this occasion more for his high birth and exalted rank, than for any experience in sea affairs; for so many dukes, marquises, and earls had volunteered on this occasion, that it was feared they might repine if commanded by a person of lower quality than themselves. They departed from Lisbon on the 19th of May 1588, with the greatest pride and glory, and with less doubt of victory than ever had been done by any nation. But God, angry with their insolence, turned the event quite contrary to their expectation.
[Footnote 344: Church. Col. III. 157.]
The directions given by the king of Spain to his general, the duke of Medina Sidonia, were to repair, as wind and weather might allow, to the road of Calais in Picardy, there to wait the arrival of the prince of Parma and his army, and on their meeting they were to open a letter containing their farther instructions. He was especially commanded to sail along the coasts of Brittany and Normandy in going up the channel, to avoid being discovered by the English; and, if he even met the English fleet, he was in no case to offer them battle, but only to defend himself in case of attack. On coming athwart the North Cape the duke was assailed with contrary wind and foul weather, by which he was forced to take shelter in the Groyne, or bay of Corunna, where part of his fleet waited for him.
[Footnote 345: Perhaps Cape Ortegal may be here meant, being the most northern head land of Spain, and not far from Corunna, called the Groyne in the text.—E.]
When about to depart from Corunna, the duke got intelligence from an English fisherman, that our fleet had lately been at sea, but had put back again and discharged most of their men, as not expecting the Spanish armada this year. This intelligence occasioned the duke to alter his resolutions, and to disobey the instructions given him by the king; yet this was not done without some difficulty, as the council was divided in opinion, some holding it best to observe the kings commands, while others were anxious not to lose the opportunity of surprising our fleet at unawares, when they hoped to burn and destroy them. Diego Flores de Valdes, who commanded the squadron of Andalusia, and on whom the duke most relied, because of his judgment and experience in maritime affairs, was the main cause of persuading to make the attempt upon our ships in harbour, and in that design they directed their course for England.