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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Santa Cruz did not wish to endanger his fame


Philip

II would have preferred to begin the work as early as the autumn of 1587. He hoped at that time that Scotland, where the Catholic lords and the people showed a lively sympathy with Queen Mary's fate, would be thrown open to him by her son, who was supposed to wish to avenge her death. But to others this seemed not so certain; in especial the experienced Admiral Santa Cruz called the King's attention to the perils the fleet might incur in those seas: they would have to contend with contrary winds, and the disadvantage of short days and thick mists. Santa Cruz did not wish to endanger his fame, the only thing he had earned during a long life, by an ill-timed or very venturous undertaking. He held an invasion of England to be more difficult than most other enterprises, and demanded such preparations as would make the victory certain. While they were being made he died, after having lost his sovereign's favour. His successor, the duke of Medina Sidonia, whom the King chose because he had distinguished himself at the last defence of Cadiz, did not make such very extensive demands; but the fleet, which was fitted out under him and by him, was nevertheless, though not in number of ships (about 130), yet in tonnage, size, and number of men on board (about 22,000) the most important that had ever been sent to sea by any European power. All the provinces of the Pyrenean peninsula had emulously contributed to it: the fleet was divided into a corresponding number of squadrons; the first was
the Portuguese, then followed the squadrons of Castille, Andalusia, Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and then the Italian--for ships and men had come also in good number from Italy. The troops were divided like the squadrons; there was a 'Mass in time of war' for each province.

With not less zeal did men arm in the Netherlands; the drum beat everywhere in the Flemish and Walloon provinces, all roads were covered with military trains. In the Netherlands too there were a great number of Italians, Corsicans and inhabitants of the States of the Church and Neapolitans, in splendid accoutrements; there were the brothers of the grand duke of Tuscany and of the duke of Savoy: King Philip had even allowed the son of a Moorish prince to take part in the Catholic expedition. Infantry and cavalry also had come from Catholic Germany.

It was a joint enterprise of the Spanish monarchy and a great part of the Catholic world, headed by the Pope and the King, to overthrow the Queen who was regarded as the Head, and the State which was regarded as the main support, of Protestantism and the anti-Spanish policy.

We do not find any detailed and at the same time authentic information as to the plan of the invasion; a Spanish soldier and diplomatist however, much employed in the military and political affairs of the time, and favoured with the confidence of the highest persons, J. Baptista de Tassis, gives us an outline, which we may accept as quite trustworthy. We know that in Antwerp, Nieuport, and Dunkirk, with the advice of Hanseatic and Genoese master-builders, transports had been got ready for the whole force: from Nieuport (to which place also were brought the vessels built at Antwerp) 14,000 men were to be conveyed across to England, and from Dunkirk 12,000. But where were they to effect a junction with each other and with the Spaniards? Tassis assures us that they had selected for this purpose the roadstead of Margate on the coast of Kent, a safe and convenient harbour;[270] there immediately after the Spanish armada had arrived, or as nearly as possible at the same time with it, the fleet of transports from the Netherlands also was to make the shore, and Alexander of Parma was then to assume the command in chief of the whole force and march straight on London.


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