Page images



A.D. 1452. Final expulsion of the English from France.

1453. Constantinople taken, and the Roman Empire of the East destroyed by the Turkish Sultan Mahomet II.

1455. Commencement of the civil wars in England between the houses of York and Lancaster.

1479. Union of the Christian kingdoms of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella.

1492. Capture of Grenada by Ferdinand and Isabella, and end of the Moorish dominion in Spain.

1492, Columbus discovers the New World. 1494. Charles VIII. of France invades Italy.

1497. Expedition of Vasco di Gama to the East Indies round the Cape of Good Hope.

1503. Naples conquered from the French by the great Spanish general, Gonsalvo of Cordova.

1508. League of Cambray, by the Pope, the Emperor, and the King of France against Venice.

1509. Albuquerque establishes the empire of the Portuguese in the East Indies.

1516. Death of Ferdinand of Spain; he is suc

[ocr errors]

ceeded by his grandson Charles, afterwards the Emperor Charles V.

1517. Dispute between Luther and Tetzel respecting the sale of indulgences; which leads to the Reformation.

1519. Charles V. is elected Emperor of Germany.

1520. Cortez conquers Mexico.

1525. Francis First of Spain defeated and taken prisoner by the Imperial army at Pavia.

1529. League of Smalcald formed by the Protestant princes of Germany.

1533. Henry VIII. renounces the Papal supremacy.

1533. Pizarro conquers Peru.

1556. Abdication of the Emperor Charles V., Philip II. becomes King of Spain, and Ferdinand I. Emperor of Germany.

1557. Elizabeth becomes Queen of England.

1557. The Spaniards defeat the French at the battle of St. Quentin.

1571. Don John of Austria at the head of the Spanish fleet, aided by the Venetian and the Papal squadrons, defeats the Turks at Lepanto.

1572. Massacre of the Protestants in France on St. Bartholomew's-day.

1579. The Netherlands revolt against Spain. 1580. Philip II. conquers Portugal.



In that memorable year, when the dark cloud gathered round our coasts, when Europe stood by in fearful suspense to behold what should be the result of that great cast in the game of human politics, what the craft of Rome, the power of Philip, the genius of Farnese could achieve against the islandqueen, with her Drakes and Cecils,—in that agony of the Protestant faith and English name.

Hallam, Const. Hist. vol. i. p. 220.

On the afternoon of the 19th of July, A.D. 1588, a group of English captains was collected at the Bowling Green on the Hoe at Plymouth, whose equals have never before or since been brought together, even at that favourite mustering place of the heroes of the British navy. There was Sir Francis Drake, the first English circumnavigator of the globe, the terror of every Spanish coast in the Old World and the New; there was Sir John Hawkins, the rough veteran of many a daring voyage on the African and American seas, and of many a desperate battle; there was Sir Martin Frobisher, one of the earliest explorers of the Arctic seas, in search of that North-West Passage, which is still the darling object of England's boldest mariners. There was the high-admiral of England, Lord Howard of Effingham, prodigal of all things in his country's cause, and who had recently had the noble daring to refuse to dismantle part of the fleet, though the queen had sent him orders to do so, in consequence of an exaggerated report, that the enemy had been driven back and shattered by a storm. Lord Howard (whom contemporary writers describe as being of a wise and noble courage, skilful in sea matters, wary and provident, and of great esteem among the sailors) resolved to risk his sovereign's anger, and to keep the ships afloat at his own charge, rather than that England should run the peril of losing their protection.

Another of our Elizabethan sea-kings, Sir Walter Raleigh, was at that time commissioned to raise and equip the land-forces of Cornwall: but we may well believe that he must have availed himself of the opportunity of consulting with the lord-admiral and the other high officers, which was offered by the English fleet putting into Plymouth; and we may look on Raleign as one of the group that was assembled at the Bowling Green on the Hoe. Many other brave men and skilful mariners, besides the chiefs whose names have beeu men

tioned, were there, enjoying, with true sailor-like merriment, their temporary relaxation from duty. In the harbour lay the English fleet with which they had just returned from a cruise to Corunna in search of information respecting the real condition and movements of the hostile Armada. Lord Howard had ascertained that our enemies, though tempest-tost, were still formidably strong; and fearing that part of their fleet might make for England in his absence, he had hurried back to the Devonshire coast. He resumed his station at Plymouth, and waited there for certain tidings of the Spaniard's approach.

A match at bowls was being played, in which Drake and other high officers of the fleet were engaged, when a small armed vessel was seen running before the wind into Plymouth harbour, with all sails set. Her commander landed in haste, and eagerly sought the place where the English Lord-Admiral and his captains were standing. His name was Fleming; he was the master of a Scotch privateer; and he told the English officers that he had that morning seen the Spanish Armada off the Cornish coast. At this exciting information the captains began to hurry down to the water, and there was a shouting for the ships' boats; but Drake coolly checked his comrades, and insisted that the match should be

« PreviousContinue »