Drake, Sir Francis 1540–1596

Born in Devonshire, England, in 1540, Sir Francis Drake came from a seafaring family. His uncle, Sir John Hawkins, was among the first of the sea dogs, English ship captains who raided Spanish and Portuguese holdings in Africa and the New World on behalf of their country and their queen, Elizabeth I. While Hawkins was content with harassing the slave trade, his nephew was far more ambitious. In 1572, Drake devised a plan to attack Nombre de Dios, a Spanish port on the Caribbean coast of Panama. Twice a year, Spanish treasure ships sailed out of Nombre de Dios, loaded with silver from the mines of Peru. While Drake’s attack failed to capture much treasure, the trip won him a reputation for daring in his own country, and struck fear throughout the Spanish empire, where he became known as The Dragon. In 1577, Drake sailed from England with 164 men in five ships on an expedition that would take him into the Pacific Ocean by way of the Straits of Magellan. Drake later reported that Elizabeth I planned the trip herself to interfere with Spanish trade in the Far East. As the fleet entered the Straits of Magellan, Drake changed the name of his flagship from the Pelican to the Golden Hind. The ships passed through the straits in just three days and headed north into the Pacific. A storm hit and continued for three weeks, scattering the fleet 600 miles to the southwest. Drake lost three ships in the storm, and, after another squall, the fourth ship, the Elizabeth, became separated from the Golden Hind and sailed for home. With only eighty men and one ship remaining, Drake pressed on. He had already discovered Cape Horn, and he now continued north, attacking Spanish ships and colonial towns in Chile, Peru, and Mexico. Drake sailed out of Spanish territory and continued up the West Coast of North America. He probably sailed close to Vancouver Island and may even have made it all the way to the Arctic Circle. Drake and his crew returned south to California, where they spent the summer with native peoples. Finally, they set sail for the Spice Islands; there, the local sultan proposed an alliance with the English against the Portuguese. With his ship laden with gold, silver, gems, and now cloves, Drake headed around Africa for home, arriving in England in September 1580. Drake’s treasure amounted to 300,000 pounds, which was quickly stored in the Tower of London. Queen Elizabeth I used part of the treasure to pay off her foreign debt. She invested another 42,000 pounds in the Levant Company; profits from this company were later used to establish the British East India Company. For his services, Drake was knighted and received 10,000 pounds from the take, with his crew dividing another 10,000 pounds among themselves. Drake later served as vice admiral of the English fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada. In 1596, he died of a fever while raiding Spanish pearl fisheries in Puerto Rico and was buried at sea off the coast of Panama. Mary Stockwell See also: Exploration; Piracy. Bibliography Thomson, George Malcolm. Sir Francis Drake. New York: Morrow, 1972. Others Sir Francis Drake (1540?-1596) painting – Sir Francis Drake … holidaymapq

Drake, Sir Francis 1540–1596 Photo Gallery

Francis Drake – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia holidaymapq

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