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The Spanish Armada (la felicissima armada or "most fortunate fleet") figured largely in an attempt by King Philip II of Spain to invade England in 1588. While Philip's motives were both religious and political, the reasons given for this attack were principally religious, since the Protestant Elizabeth I of England had antagonised the Catholics by making attendance at Church of England services compulsory and instituting imprisonment for the saying or attending Catholic Mass. Moreover, the activities of English privateers on the Spanish Main[?] over the previous years had severely dented the Spanish treasury.

The Plan

Philip's invasion plan was a simple fourchette: the Duke of Parma[?] was to assemble a large military force in the Spanish-controlled Netherlands and then invade from the North, across the North Sea, whilst the Spanish Armada was to sail from Lisbon in Portugal with another 20,000 or so men to attack from the South. The Armada was also to provide naval power to protect the Duke of Parma's assault at Dover.

On May 28, 1588 the Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, began to set sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel (it took until May 30 for all ships to leave port).

[..to be continued sjc]

In 2002 Dr Colin Martin[?] of St Andrews University claimed that many Spanish ships carried cannon shot that was the wrong size for their cannons.

Today, the term Spanish Armada (Armada Española) can also describe the modern navy of Spain, part of the Spanish armed forces. The Spanish navy has participated in a number of military engagements, including the dispute over the Isla Perejil.

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