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Editor says, What if a storm destroyed the Spanish Armada muses Chris Oakley Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s). This article is part of the Ill Wind thread.
In 1588,on this day a fleet of 130 Spanish naval vessels, dispatched from Lisbon three days earlier to rendezvous with the Duke of Parma's 300-ship flotilla in advance of a planned Spanish invasion of England, met with disaster when it ran into a massive storm that savaged it with torrential rains and hurricane-force winds. 123 of the 130 vessels in the Lisbon squadron were lost in storm, which subsequently turned north and inflicted substantial losses on the Duke of Parma's fleet-- less than a third of the Duke's 300 ships would survive the ordeal.
The Armada Storm by Chris OakleyThe loss of so many warships constituted a catastrophic blow to King Philip II's hopes for a successful conquest of England; it also left Spain vulnerable to foreign invasion and internal unrest. By 1596 an anti-Spanish rebellion in the Netherlands had succeeded in gaining Dutch independence and Spanish Protestants had risen against the largely Catholic monarchy in Madrid; by the early 1600s a pro-British government had been installed in power in Portugal (previously under Philip's rule along with Spain) and British troops had occupied much of southern Spain. The British occupation forces would remain there until the mid-1650s.
Handicapped by the wounds inflicted on its maritime power by what modern historians now call "the Armada storm", Spain would be left in the dust as France took over her former position as Britain's chief rival for supremacy in Europe and colonial territory elsewhere. Not until the late 18th century would the Spanish even begin to regain a semblance of their former power, and by then Britain and France had effectively locked Spain out of most of the New World.