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part six.

Part six
The English Channel, off the coast of the Netherlands
Elizabeth was on the ball. Within hours of the reports that the Armada had been sighted having reached her, she had already ‘borrowed’ enough boats from nobles to rally a sizeable sea-army. Sir Francis Drake, who knew more about Spanish ships and tactics than any other Englishman alive, had been summoned to the court and given charge of the English fleet. His first move as an admiral was to send out a few small boats after the Armada. The little boats were much quicker than the Spanish so the latter could not sink them without breaking the crescent formation, which would render them helpless, so they were forced to ignore them. The main purpose of the boats was intimidation and general harassment, but every now and then when a stray Spanish ship started to lag behind the English would advance to pick it off.

Conditions aboard the Spanish boats were indescribable. As most of them had contamination in their water supplies from rotting fruit and faeces, the death toll was already beginning to mount before the war had officially begun. Conditions on the English ships weren’t much better, but at least they could return to port to prevent epidemics and restock supplies.

The Netherlands, although officially Catholic, had a large Protestant population which deeply resented Spain’s influence. Elizabeth had long since sympathised with them and upped the number of loyal men she sent over. These men’s job was not simply to spy. Now, they had been given a new mission: stir up as much trouble as possible. Stop the Spanish from being able to recruit Dutch soldiers. For those who are likely to be conscripted, encourage revolt or mutiny.

When the Spanish docked in the Netherlands, they did not find the supplies and men ready for them as they had expected. An investigation revealed that there had been a rebellion instigated by English missionaries, although the Spaniard in charge there insisted that this was only a slight delay and not an obstacle. Reluctantly, the Spanish Armada settled down for an indefinite wait.

    • part seven. -
    • part eight. -
    • part nine. -
    • part ten. -
    • epilogue -

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