Why Did the Spanish Armada Fail?

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Why did the Spanish Armada Fail?

The Spanish Armada is the name given to the giant flotilla of Spanish warships send by Spain’s Catholic King Philip II in 1588 to destroy Protestantism England under Elizabeth- though hindsight would say otherwise, the aim of the Spanish Armada was not intended for an all-out confrontation with the opposing English fleet- but rather to escort the vulnerable barges in which the Duke of Parma (a well respected and experienced general who had been fighting against Dutch rebels) and his elite standing army the Tercios de Flandes would be transported to England. After rendezvousing, the army would be transported through the English channel onto England and thereby:

• Eliminating and ridding Elizabeth
• Ending English piracy
• Stopping English support to Dutch Rebels
• Converting England back into Catholicism
• Demoralize other Protestant forces locked in wars with Spain at the time

The utter defeat of the Spanish Armada is a highly withstanding and accepted fact- and the sheer amount of vital flaws on the side of the Spanish were just as pivotal to its defeat as the superior actions of the English- there were several major reasons for such a failure- leadership and command, the overall plans of invasion and defense and strategical moves and tactics.

Leadership and Command

One of the greatest reasons for the failure of the Armada was the people at the top of the chain of command- and as would be expected, Elizabeth and Phillip lead the English and Spain respectively during the conflict. However Elizabeth knew nothing of naval affairs and had very little to contribute at all in battle at least in a strategic sense- very similar to Phillip- however much can be said about their individual characters by their manners of leadership. Elizabeth admitting and accepting her lack of military ability instead passed down her full command to Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham and Francis Drake both of which had fair naval ability especially Drake. Phillip’s actions were totally different- whilst having no military knowledge or logic especially on naval grounds, he adamantly insisted on devising and planning such an extensive and ambiguous campaign himself- believing that as his position as king- God would guide him and deliver him victory- and this sort of religious and personal arrogance was one of the main reasons for the failure of the Spanish Armada. Phillip’s religious beliefs were so strong and stubbornly so that after the death of Alvaro de Bazan 1st Marquis of Santa Cruz who was a highly competent admiral, he replaced him with The Duke of Medina Sidonia against the latter’s complaints for no reason than other that he was a good Christian. The Duke of Medina Sidonia had like Phillip no military experience and was rumored to have been prone to seasickness (Wiki Pages on Phillip and Medina). Such was his level of conceit, that he would often ignore his most experienced military consultants whom on more than one occasion questioned the feasibility of the plan in general……..

Plans of Invasion and Defense

The feasibility of such a grand and ambitious plan especially in the 16th Century has been widely questioned and understandably so- in the Dutch Spanish war, Spain had already occupied large areas of the Netherlands and controlled many trade routes through which weapons and supplies could be easily transported. Nevertheless despite these seemingly war- winning advantages, Spain struggled to contain such a small scale rebellion whilst the possibility of a full scale invasion of England- a far more substantial country in terms of size and power, one protected by the treacherous Atlantic ocean with none of the advantages seen in the Netherlands, seemed slim at best. Even rendezvousing with the Duke of Parma was an incredibly ambitious ask- there could be no communication from Spain to the armada once it had set sail and therefore an exact rendezvousing required...
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