Elizabeth I: The Golden Age - MISERY IN IRELAND

MISERY IN IRELAND (Illustration) Biographies Geography Government Tragedies and Triumphs History Social Studies World History

The Girona, a Spanish galleass, was wrecked on the 26th of October, 1588, when an adverse wind developed and pushed the ship onto the rocks near Ulster.  Most of the men onboard the ship perished in the disaster. This artist’s interpretation depicts the loss of the Girona. Drawing by Notafly; online via Wikimedia Commons. License: CC BY-SA 3.0 


History records some of the Spaniards did not just face shipwrecks along the western shore of Ireland. Having survived battles with Britain and the difficult journey around Scotland, they had lived only to die in brutal fashion after foundering on the Irish coast:

In their flight certaine it is that many shippes were cast away upon the coasts of Scotland and Ireland ... But more unmercifully were those miserable wretches dealt withall, whose happe was to be driven by tempests into Ireland.

For they were slayne, some of them by the wilde Irish, and some put to the sword by commandement of the Lord Deputy. For he, fearing least they would joyne with the Irish rebels ... sent Fowl Deputy marshall, who drew them out of their lurking holes and beheaded about 200 of them; which the Queene from her heart condemned as a matter full of cruelty.

Heerewith the rest being terrified, sicke and starven as they were, they committed themselves to the sea in their broken vessels, and were many of them swallowed of the waves. (Camden, Annales Rerum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha, 1588, Section 32)

Although Britain's losses were less than Spain's, most of the Armada's ships finally made it back to their home port (as depicted in this BBC map). 

Elizabeth, on the other hand, endured the passing of one of her longtime favorites. Robert Dudley - Earl of Leicester, commander of Her Majesty's troops at Tilbury and Elizabeth's friend since childhood - died as he traveled back to his home. Not everyone mourned his death:

Neither was the common joy ever the lesse for Leicesters death (though the Queene tooke it most heavily), who about this time, namely the 4th day of September [1588], dyed of a continuall feaver upon the way as he went towards Killingworth ... (Camden, Annales Rerum Angliae et Hiberniae Regnante Elizabetha, 1588, Section 32)

Elizabeth, says Camden, regarded Dudley as "most deere."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Jan 28, 2018

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