, , , , , , ,

The Spanish Armada[i]

Some posts require more tags than one would suspect.  Frobisher was an explorer, a gold digger, a privateer, one of the men who repelled the “invincible” Spanish Armada, and the sort of character one expects to find in novels written by Robert Louis Stevenson or Alexandre Dumas père. Moreover, although Martin Frobisher explored a new world, his own native world was entering a new age.

Privateers & loyal servants to their Queen

Queen Elizabeth had four trusted seamen who were destined to belong to legend, if only for their role in defeating the Spanish Armada. Hawkins was an admiral and Drake, a vice-admiral, but they were also privateers, not pirates, and it is mainly as privateers that they could be protagonists in novels written by Stevenson or Alexandre Dumas père. As the list below indicates, Frobisher was in excellent company and all four Sea Dogs fought to repel the Spanish Armada. Here are their names and dates:

Of the four, Sir Walter Raleigh is the more legendary. He married secretly which angered Elizabeth. She had him and his wife thrown into the Tower of London, but Sir Walter Raleigh bought his release. He was nevertheless beheaded, unjustly, for his alleged involvement in a plot to kill King James I.[ii]


Our four Sea Dogs were explorers.

  • Sir Francis Drake was the second seaman to circumnavigate the globe, a feat carried out from 1577 to 1580.
  • Between 1584 and 1589, Sir Walter Raleigh tried to establish a colony near Roanoke Island (the present North Carolina) but failed. He made tobacco popular in England, and he fought against Spain in her colonies.
  • Sir John Hawkins was a slave-trader and he built her Majesty’s navy.
  • As for Sir Martin Frobisher, although he did so inadvertently, he nevertheless discovered the Hudson Strait which led to the Hudson Bay and, therefore, to North America’s gold: beaver pelts. He is a Canadian explorer.
(please click on the picture to enlarge it)

Ivan IV of Russia Shows His Treasury to Jerome Horsey (Alexander Litovchenko, 1875)


My post on Frobisher also allowed a brief peak at capitalism. Michael Lok of the Muscovy Company found investors who made it possible for Frobisher to embark on his three expeditions.

According to Wikipedia,[iii] the Muscovy Company, or Московская компания, was the first major chartered joint stock company. Europeans had learned to pool their money and enter into ventures that could fail but could also be extremely profitable. For instance, Prince Rupert invited individuals to buy shares that would allow the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The Hudson’s Bay Company was established in 1670 and remains active.


I chose a piece by Henry Purcell (10 September 1659 (?)– 21 November 1695), a seventeenth-century composer. I love Purcell. But John Dowland (1563 – buried 20 February 1626) may have been a better choice. He was a Renaissance composer of lute songs and Lachrimae, a genre epitomized by his own “Flow my Tears.”

“Flow my Tears,” by John Dowland
Sir Martin Frobisher as Privateer and Hero to his Queen (November 26, 2012)
Sir Martin Frobisher: the First Thanksgiving (November 25, 2012) 


[i] Armada, Spanish: Spanish Armada off the coast England. Photograph. Britannica Online for Kids. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. 
[ii] “Sir Walter Raleigh.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2012
[iii] “The Muscovy Company had a monopoly on trade between England and Muscovy until 1698 and it survived as a trading company until the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Muscovy Company traces its roots to the Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands [long title], founded in 1551 by Richard Chancellor, Sebastian Cabot and Sir Hugh Willoughby, who decided to look for the Northeast Passage to China.” (The Muscovy Company, Wikipedia)
composer: John Dowland (1563 – buried 20 February 1626)
piece: Lachrimae Antiquae 
performers: Jordi Savall, Hespérion XX

© Micheline Walker
November 27th, 2012