Fascinating Facts about Sir Francis Drake

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Sir Francis Drake was an Elizabethan sailor and navigator, born sometime between the years 1540 and 1544 in a place called Travistock in England. He is also famous because of his victory against the Spanish Armada and being the first Englishman to have circumnavigated the globe. It also helped prove that the Earth was round.

Here are some fascinating facts about Francis Drake.

  • Drake had been habituated to sea life from a very early age because his father was a minister for the navy. He was enlisted by his relatives Hawkins and he undertook several voyages with John Hawkins.

  • Sir Francis Drake made his first expedition at sea along with his cousin John Hawkins and they led a fleet bringing African slaves to work in the ‘New World’. However, they lost all except 2 ships when attacked by a Spanish Squadron and since then Drake became the sworn enemies of Spain.

  • In 1569, he was trapped by the Spaniards at the port of San Juan de Ulua and although he managed to escape, his feelings of hatred and revenge built up during this time.

  • Sir Francis Drake took his revenge over the next few years attacking Spanish towns and ships, gaining all forms of riches and then became a wealthy man. Having noticed the success of the man, Queen Elizabeth I gave him a fleet of ships to conquer South America and the Spanish.

  • By the 1570s, Drake had earned enough from his voyages which helped him fund for his return expedition to the Caribbean. In this voyage he amassed £300,000 worth gold and silver.

  • His major expedition around the world started in 1577 when he left England with 5 ships. He captained the largest ship, Pelican which was later renamed as Golden Hind. After sailing for 3 long years, Drake returned to England with only one ship. He was knighted by the Queen in the same year.

  • The Spanish people had nicknamed Drake as “El Draque” meaning The Dragon and considered him to be a pirate.

  • The King of Spain had declared a reward of 20,000 ducats in return for anyone who could get him Drake’s head.

  • Drake purchased and lived in a large mansion at Devon in England and named it Buckland Abby. The mansion is open for tourists even today.

  • Drake had married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Mary Newman after whose death he moved to Buckland Abby and remarried Elizabeth Sydenham.

  • In, 1589 when Drake lost in his expeditions to destroy the remaining ships of the Spanish Armada, he suffered severe losses. Following this he returned to England and became the mayor, busying himself with his new duties at Plymouth.

Drake made his last expedition with partner Hawkins to the West Indies and it turned out to be a disaster. Both lost their lives succumbing to dysentery off the coast of Portobello and their bodies were buried at sea. Drake is primarily known for his slaving and looting expeditions and he was able to keep the Queen pleased because she was fond of the precious jewels he brought to her.

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