How did the defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588) change England?


English fire ships attacking the Spanish fleet

The defeat and destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588 is seen by many as the high point of Elizabeth I’s of England’s reign. If the Armada had been successful, it could have changed the course of English and world history. The defeat of the Armada had profound consequences for England. The first consequence of the English victory was that it secured its independence.

With defeat of the Armada, England become a serious European naval power. Britain’s navy was the foundation of the future British Empire. As a result of the failed invasion, by Catholic Spain, England became more self-consciously Protestant and Catholicism became increasingly unpopular and was viewed as anti-English. The English also saw the defeat of the Armada as an act of divine providence. It confirmed to them that England was a kingdom destined for greatness.

In the sixteenth century, Europe was divided into two mutually hostile religious groups. The Northern Europe was dominated by Protestants regimes and the south was mainly Catholic. England had become an increasing Protestant state by the mid-sixteenth century. Contrary to popular belief, Catholicism had been popular in England before the Reformation and many people still sympathized with what they called the ‘old religion.’[1] Queen Elizabeth the First initially pursued a moderate religious policy to minimize religious conflict between Catholic and Protestant. However, Elizabeth soon found herself under pressure from Spain – the preeminent Catholic power in the world at that time. Spain’s influence reach stretched across Europe and into the Americas.

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Categories: British History, Military History

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