In 1588, the great Armada set sail from Spain. This huge fleet consisted of 130 ships, including 22 great Gallons, huge ships just laden with guns and other firepower.
The reasons Philip II of Spain sent out this powerful fleet was because the protestant English had been helping the Dutch, who were trying to overthrow the Spanish rulers in the Netherlands. Also, English privateers such as Sir Francis Drake had been pirating the richly laden Spanish ships on their way back from the Americas. And when Queen Elizabeth of England had beheaded the Roman Catholic Queen Mary of Scots, Philip finally sent out his ships.
The fleet was to sail through the English channel to the Spanish Netherlands, pick up troops waiting there, and then land them on Britain, then these troops would march to Buckingham palace and sieze Elizabeth.
Philip’s first big mistake was to put the fleet under command of Medina Sidonia, his best General, also a man who had never been to sea.
The English sighted the Armada off Lizard, and sent the signal to London through lighted beacons. (like in the movie Lord of The Rings when Minas Tirith called for help through the beacons to Rohan). The English fleet put to sea, but could do nothing while the Spanish kept in their tight formation. So the Spanish fleet went hulking on, but when they reached the Dutch harbour where the troops were waiting to be picked up they had to stop, and stopping meant going out of formation.
The second they stopped, the English began firing at long range, farther than the small Spanish guns could shoot, and even better, the Dutch Sea Beggars under Justin of Nassau, (brother of the Prince of Orange) had blockaded the harbour, and so the Spanish had to go back a little and find a shallower spot to take on the armies. But, of course, the Beggars had already been through and removed the depth markers. So around Calais in France, the Spanish finally found what seemed to be a good spot, and so they cast down anchor and waited for the army to arrive.
Meanwhile the English were doing serious damage, but the Spanish could do nothing back. At last it grew dark, and the English withdrew. The Spanish knew there would be another attack in the morning, so were ready to cut loose the anchor and get out of the way of any fireships.
Sure enough, in the night, about eight fireships loomed towards them. The Spanish panicked, cut loose their cables and tried to flee. All but one escaped the fireships, but the others ran into each other, and some got stuck in the sand bar. When light dawned, the English renewed their attack, and just tore apart the Spanish. The Spanish could not flee as the wind was against them, and many ships were sunk. At last the wind changed, and the Spnaish fled. They could not go back through the strait as they had come, as the English were there waiting for them, so they sailed up the coast intending to go around Scotland and so back to Spain that way.
The poor Spaniards were driven by hunger, and those who were not taken by hunger were sunk in storms. Only 52 out of the 130 ships that sailed so proudly from Spain returned to their homeland.
The reason the Enlish had won this battle is because of their long-range cannons that fired 42-pounders (the wheight of the cannon balls) a range almost twice as far as the Spanish guns.