Elizabeth I - Speech to the Troops at Tilbury (1588)

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The text. This text is a political speech delivered on 9 August Old Style, 19 August New Style 1588 by Queen Elizabeth I of England to the land forces earlier assembled at Tilbury in Essex in preparation of repelling the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada. Queen Elizabeth supported pirates due to the serious economical crisis that England was facing to (at that time, England have been at war against France for several years; this war had entailed huge expenses to the coffers of England). Pirates supported royal finances back. The main problem of Queen Elizabeth was Mary I, Queen of Scots. She was deposed and came to England in order to take refuge; however, Catholics considered Mary as the rightful Queen of England, so Elizabeth jailed her in the Tower of London. After 18 years in prison, Elizabeth discovered a plot to assassinate her so Mary would become Queen of England; due to this, Elizabeth ordered the beheading of Mary in 1587. The death of Mary was the perfect excuse for Phillip II of Spain (catholic as Mary) to declare the war to England. It is important to notice that Spain had been suffering the attacks of English pirates during several years. In addition, Elizabeth, who sought to advance the cause of Protestantism where possible, supported the Dutch Revolt against Spain. Thus, Philip planned an expedition to invade and conquer England, thereby suppressing support for the United Provinces— that part of the Low Countries that had successfully seceded from Spanish rule — and cutting off attacks by the English against Spanish possessions in the New World and against the Atlantic treasure fleets. The king was supported by Pope Sixtus V, who treated the invasion as a crusade, with the promise of a further subsidy should the Armada make land. This great fleet would be known as the Spanish Armada. The purpose of the Spanish Armada was sailing through the English Channel to anchor off the coast of Flanders, where the Duke of Parma's army of tercios would stand ready for an invasion of the South East of England. The Armada achieved its first goal and anchored outside Gravelines, at the coastal border area between France and the Spanish Netherlands. While awaiting communications from Parma's army, it was driven from its anchorage by an English fire ship attack, and in the ensuing battle at Gravelines the Spanish were forced to abandon their rendezvous with Parma's army. The Armada managed to regroup and withdraw north, with the English fleet harrying it for some distance up the east coast of England. A return voyage to Spain was plotted, and the fleet sailed into the Atlantic, past Ireland, but severe storms disrupted the fleet's course. More than 24 vessels were wrecked on the north and western coasts of Ireland, with the survivors having to seek refuge in Scotland. Edinger (2001) states that the Spanish Armada was sunk primarily by shipworms.[11] Of the fleet's initial complement, about 50 vessels failed to make it back to Spain. The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Anglo–Spanish War (1585–1604). At the time when the Spanish invasion was expected, Queen Elizabeth decided to review in person, this detachment of soldiers assembled at Tilbury. On the day of the speech, the Queen left her bodyguard before the fort at Tilbury and went among her subjects with an escort of six men. Lord Ormonde walked ahead with the Sword of State; he was followed by a page leading the Queen's charger and another bearing her silver helmet on a cushion; then came the Queen herself, in white with a silver cuirass and mounted on a grey gelding. She was flanked on horseback by her Lieutenant General the Earl of Leicester on the right, and on the left by the Earl of Essex, her Master of the Horse. Sir John Norreys brought up the rear. The text of this speech was found in a letter from Leonel Sharp (chaplain to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex,...
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