The Tudor Society
  • 2 August – Spaniards land in Cornwall and cause trouble

    On 2nd August 1595, as part of the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585-1604, four galleys containing somewhere between 200 and 400 Spanish soldiers landed at Mount’s Bay on the coast of western Cornwall.

    The local militia fled and so the Spaniards went on to cause devastation in the area.

    Find out exactly what the Spaniards did in Cornwall in today’s talk.

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  • 29 July – England’s clever tactics against the Spanish Armada

    On this day in Tudor history, 29th July 1588, the English naval fleet attacked the Spanish Armada in a battle known as the Battle of Gravelines.

    England defeated Spain and it was down to the new tactics they’d learned from previous encounters with the Armada and from capturing a Spanish ship, as well as weather conditions.

    What were these new and successful tactics and what happened at the Battle of Gravelines?

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  • May 28 – The Spanish Armada sets sail

    On this day in Tudor history, 28th May 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon in Portugal bound for the Spanish Netherlands.

    With the Pope’s blessing, King Philip II was going to invade England and depose the heretic, Queen Elizabeth I. The stop at the Netherlands was simply to pick up the Spanish forces there.

    What happened next and why did the Spanish Armada fail?

    Find out all about the Spanish Armada and how England was victorious in today’s talk.

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  • 20 August – Elizabeth I gives thanks for the Protestant Wind!

    On this day in Tudor history, 20th August 1588, there was a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s to thank God for his divine intervention when England defeated the Spanish Armada. It was thought that God had sent his Protestant Wind to save England from Catholic Spain.

    Find out more about this in today’s talk.

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  • 9 August – Elizabeth I’s Tilbury Speech

    On this day in Tudor history, 9th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I gave her famous Tilbury Speech to the forces gathered at Tilbury Fort.

    It is a speech that has been immortalised on screen by the likes of Glenda Jackson and Cate Blanchett, and is famous for the line “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too”, but what words did Elizabeth really speak that day?

    In today’s talk,I share three versions of Elizabeth I’s Tilbury Speech.

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  • 8 August – Elizabeth I accepts Robert Dudley’s invitation

    On this day in Tudor history, 8th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I decided to accept Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s invitation to visit the troops he had gathered near Tilbury Fort to guard the eastern approach to London from the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada.

    In today’s “on this day in Tudor history” talk, I explain why Leicester invited his queen to visit the troops – there was more to it than just boosting morale.

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  • 26 July – Preparations for the Spanish Armada

    On this day in Tudor history, 26th July 1588, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, 4,000 men assembled at Tilbury Fort in an effort to prevent the Spanish Armada from travelling up the Thames and attacking London.

    In today’s “on this day in Tudor history” talk, I explain what had led up to this day.

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  • April 19 – Sir Francis Drake singes the King of Spain’s beard

    On this day in Tudor history, 19th April 1587, Sir Francis Drake “singed the King of Spain’s beard”, as he called it, by attacking the Spanish fleet in the harbour of Cadiz.

    Drake’s actions on that day and the following few days meant that King Philip had to postpone his plans for the Spanish Armada to attack England – phew!

    [Read More...]
  • Elizabeth I’s Tilbury Speech on film

    Today is the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth I’s rousing speech to the troops at Tilbury Fort on 9th August 1588. While we don’t have Elizabeth I herself on film, it’s a speech that has featured in many movies and TV series. You can read the various versions we have of the original Tilbury speech in my article from 2015, but here are a few famous depictions of that day in 1588.

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  • New e-book available now – The Spanish Armada

    Today, the anniversary of the Battle of Gravelines in 1588, is the perfect day to launch our latest Tudor Society e-book because it’s on the Spanish Armada. The book gives details of the main events of summer 1588, and also what led to them.

    We hope you enjoy it!

    This is the latest e-book in our collection. At the moment, we have six others, one on each Tudor monarch, and we have another one (on feast days) coming soon.

    [Read More...]
  • 20 August 1588 – England gives thanks

    On 20th August 1588, a thanksgiving service was held at St Paul’s in London to give thanks to God for England’s victory over the Spanish Armada. The Armada had been defeated, obliterated in fact, yet the English fleet was left intact and only around 100 English men were lost in the skirmishes.

    [Read More...]
  • 9 August 1588 – Elizabeth I rallies the troops at Tilbury Fort

    On 9th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I appeared before her troops gathered at Tilbury Fort, on the Thames estuary in Essex, and gave her famous “Tilbury Speech”.

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  • 8 August 1588 – Elizabeth I visits Tilbury

    Even though the remaining ships of the Spanish Armada were homeward bound following the defeat of the fleet at the Battle of Gravelines and their subsequent scattering by strong winds, England was still expecting to be threatened by the troops of the Duke of Parma who could come across the English Channel as soon as the wind was favourable.

    On 8th August 1588, Queen Elizabeth I decided to accept Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s invitation and visit the troops he had gathered near Tilbury Fort. Leicester had written a letter of invitation to the Queen on the 27th July in an attempt to stop her recklessly riding to the south coast to meet Parma’s troops. He wrote of how she could visit Tilbury and bring comfort to the troops. Against the advice of her Council, who wanted her to remain in the safety of London, Elizabeth travelled from St James’s Palace to Tilbury by state barge on the 8th August.

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  • The Spanish Armada Quiz 2

    I hope you enjoyed the first part of our Spanish Armada quiz last week. Here’s the second part. Good luck!

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  • 2 August 1588 – The Spanish Armada is homeward bound

    By the first week of August 1588, the battered, defeated and demoralised Spanish Armada had started the first part of its long journey back home to Spain.

    The Battle of Gravelines had seen England victorious, and between that and the awful weather Spain had lost five of its main ships and had suffered major damage to many others. Ammunition was pretty much non-existent and food rations were low. All the Spanish commander, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, could do was to try and salvage what was left of his fleet and men and get them home to safety. The English fleet, led by Lord Howard, pursued the Spanish ships as far north as the mouth of the Tyne but gave up on the 2nd August and turned back, dropping anchor at ports such as Harwich and Margate.

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  • The Spanish Armada Quiz 1

    As it’s the anniversary of the Spanish Armada at the moment, I thought it was time to test your knowledge on this famous Tudor event. How much do you know about it? Test yourself with this fun quiz. Good luck!

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  • 30 July 1588 – The wind scatters the Armada

    On 30th July 1588, the day after the Battle of Gravelines and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the wind changed and the remaining ships of the Spanish Armada were forced northwards and scattered. It really did seem that the elements, particularly the wind, were on England’s side. Sir Francis Drake wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham on 30th July 1588, saying “There was never anything pleased me better than seeing the enemy flying with a southerly wind northward. We have the Spaniards before us, and the mind, with the grace of God, to wrestle a pull with them.”

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  • 29 July 1588 – The Battle of Gravelines between England and Spain

    In 1588, the day after the English had wrecked the crescent formation of the Spanish Armada and caused havoc, they attacked the Spanish fleet. This battle is known as the Battle of Gravelines because it took place just off the port of Gravelines, a Spanish stronghold in Flanders.

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  • 28 July 1588 – The hell-burners

    At midnight on 28th July 1588, five hell-burners were ordered to be sent amongst the galleons of the Spanish Armada at Calais. Hell-burners were fire-ships, ships that were packed with wood and pitch and set alight. The high winds at Calais caused an inferno which resulted in complete chaos and the Armada’s crescent formation was wrecked as galleons scattered in panic.

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  • 27 July 1588 – Leicester invites Elizabeth I to Tilbury

    On this day in history, the 27th July 1588, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and the Lieutenant and Captain General of the Queen’s Armies and Companies, invited Elizabeth I to visit Tilbury, where he was busy assembling troops. If you read my post from yesterday, you will know that 4,000 men had been assembled at Tilbury Fort on 26th July 1588 to guard the eastern approach to London from the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada.

    [Read More...]
  • 26 July 1588 – 4,000 men assemble at Tilbury Fort

    On this day in history, the 26th July 1588, 4,000 men assembled at Tilbury Fort, the fort built on the Thames estuary in Essex by Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, to guard the eastern approach to London from the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada.

    [Read More...]
  • 20 August 1588 – A Thanksgiving Service for the Armada Victory

    On 20th August 1588 a thanksgiving service was held at St Paul’s in London to give thanks to God for England’s victory over the Spanish Armada. The Armada had been defeated, obliterated in fact, yet the English fleet was left intact and only around 100 English men were lost in the skirmishes.

    [Read More...]
  • 9 August 1588 – Elizabeth I’s Tilbury Speech

    On the 9th August 1588, Elizabeth I appeared before the troops that had gathered at Tilbury Fort in anticipation of a Spanish attack.

    In her article “The Myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury”, Susan Frye, writes that there are no reliable eye-witness accounts regarding Elizabeth I’s appearance on that day, but that tradition places the Queen in armour, giving a rousing speech – an iconic Gloriana.

    [Read More...]
  • 29 July 1588 – The Battle of Gravelines

    Defeat of the Spanish Armada at Gravelines, Philipp Jakob Loutherbourg the Younger.

    Defeat of the Spanish Armada at Gravelines, Philipp Jakob Loutherbourg the Younger.

    On 29th July 1588, the day after the English had wrecked the crescent formation of the Spanish Armada at Calais with five hell-burners (fire-ships)and caused havoc, they attacked the Spanish fleet. This battle is known as the Battle of Gravelines because it took place just off the port of Gravelines, a Spanish stronghold in Flanders, part of the Spanish Netherlands, but near the border with France. The Duke of Medina Sedonia had been unable to reform the Spanish fleet at Calais, due to a south-easterly wind, and was forced to regroup at Gravelines.

    The English had learned from previous encounters with the Spanish fleet and so used new and more successful tactics. They had learned from capturing the Rosario in the Channel that the Spaniards could not easily reload their guns, so with their smaller and lighter ships the English were able to provoke the Spaniards into firing, but keep out of range and then close in for the kill.

    [Read More...]

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