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The original purpose of the trip was to raid Spanish ships and ports. The expedition left Plymouth in southwest England on 13 December comprised of five ships: the Pelican , Elizabeth , Marigold , Swan , and Christopher , manned by a total of seamen.


  1. Francis Drake’s Early Life and Hatred for Spain.
  2. Sir Francis Drake (c.1540 - c.1596)!
  3. Changes . . . To Everything A Time.
  4. The Life of Sir Francis Drake.
  5. Biography Newsletter.

After reaching South America, Drake was worried that his ships would separate, so gave orders for two of the smaller supply ships to be broken up and the crew transferred to the remaining ships. Drake was also knighted on board his ship. He is supposed to have said, 'There is plenty of time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards. Between 20 and 30 Spanish ships were sunk or captured during the raid.

He is remembered as one of the naval heroes of Elizabethan England, although his engagements with Spanish ships and towns have led to charges of piracy in subsequent years. His circumnavigation of the world led to increased knowledge of its geography. He was one of the greatest early European navigators. What did Sir Francis Drake discover, and why is he so famous?

What did Francis Drake discover? Tierra del Fuego He discovered that Tierra del Fuego, the land south of the Magellan Strait, was not another continent as Europeans believed, but instead a group of islands. America's north coast Drake also sailed further north along the coast of the Americas than any other European had before.

Francis Drake - Facts, Biography & Routes - HISTORY

He was brought up in Plymouth by the Hawkins family, relatives who worked as merchants and privateers often referred to as pirates. Drake went to sea for the first time around the age of 18 with the Hawkins family fleet, and by the s had earned command of his own ship. In , Drake and his cousin John Hawkins sailed to Africa in order to join the fledgling slave trade. When they sailed to New Spain to sell their captives to settlers there which was against Spanish law they were trapped by a Spanish attack in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua. Many of their crewmates were killed in the incident, though Drake and Hawkins escaped, and Drake returned to England with what would be a lifelong hatred for Spain and its ruler, King Philip II.

Drake did just that in , capturing the port of Nombre de Dios a drop-off point for silver and gold brought from Peru and crossing the Isthmus of Panama, where he caught sight of the great Pacific Ocean.

Battle of Britain

He returned to England with a large amount of Spanish treasure, an accomplishment that earned him a reputation as a leading privateer. The voyage was plagued by conflict between Drake and the two other men tasked with sharing command.

When they arrived off the coast of Argentina, Drake had one of the men—Thomas Doughty—arrested, tried and beheaded for allegedly plotting a mutiny. Of the five-ship fleet, two ships were lost in a storm; the other commander, John Wynter, turned one back to England; and another disappeared.

After plundering Spanish ports along the west coast of South America, Drake headed north in search of a passage back to the Atlantic. Heading back west across the Pacific in July , he stopped in the Philippines and bought spices in the Molucca Islands. Despite complaints from the Spanish government about his piracy, Drake was honored as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and became a popular hero.

Several months after his return, Queen Elizabeth personally knighted him aboard the Golden Hind. In , with hostilities heating up again between England and Spain, the queen gave Drake command of a fleet of 25 ships. His flagship, the Pelican , which Drake later renamed the Golden Hind or Hinde , weighed only about tons. It seemed little enough with which to undertake a venture into the domain of the most powerful monarch and empire in the world.

Upon arrival in South America, Drake alleged a plot by unreliable officers, and its supposed leader, Thomas Doughty , was tried and executed.


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  • Drake was always a stern disciplinarian, and he clearly did not intend to continue the venture without making sure that all of his small company were loyal to him. Two of his smaller vessels, having served their purpose as store ships, were then abandoned after their provisions had been taken aboard the others, and on August 21, , he entered the Strait of Magellan. It took 16 days to sail through, after which Drake had his second view of the Pacific Ocean—this time from the deck of an English ship.

    Sir Francis Drake (c.1540 - c.1596)

    He passed along the coast like a whirlwind, for the Spaniards were quite unguarded, having never known a hostile ship in their waters. Bitterly cold weather defeated him, and he coasted southward to anchor near what is now San Francisco. He named the surrounding country New Albion and took possession of it in the name of Queen Elizabeth.

    In July he sailed west across the Pacific and after 68 days sighted a line of islands probably the remote Palau group. From there he went on to the Philippines, where he watered ship before sailing to the Moluccas. There he was well received by a local sultan and succeeded in buying spices. He was able to get her off without any great damage and, after calling at Java, set his course across the Indian Ocean for the Cape of Good Hope. Two years after she had nosed her way into the Strait of Magellan, the Golden Hind came back into the Atlantic with only 56 of the original crew of left aboard.

    Despite Spanish protests about his piratical conduct while in their imperial waters, Queen Elizabeth herself went aboard the Golden Hind , which was lying at Deptford in the Thames estuary, and personally bestowed knighthood on him. Sir Francis Drake.