The defeat of the Spanish Armada.


Perhaps the biggest unresolved issue in regards to the defeat of the Spanish Armada was after the Battle of Gravlines. The question is why didn't the English attack the Spanish as they were escaping northward. 

The English knew that a hurricane was coming. In fact if you take an honest look at all the actions of the English you will see that their focus was entirely on forcing the Spanish Armada out into the North Sea and then getting to a safe harbor themselves. They did both. The English attacked and drove the Spanish north at Gravelines on August 8, 1588 then ran to harbor on August 12, 1588 and then the remnants of a hurricane scattered the Spanish Armada on August 14, 1588. The actions of the English were strange and could be questioned unless you accept the fact that they knew ahead of time that a hurricane was coming. Then all thier actions make perfect sense. 

It's a big issue that has been brought up many military historians over the centuries. On this page from his book, 'Armada', Peter Padfield states that especially when they were near the Zeeland Banks why didn't the English drive the Spanish on to the banks where they could have destroyed them? In the end he concludes that we will never know the answer. Next is the answer.

The way England won the war against the Spanish Armada is simple. For about 400 years the English had an early warning system set up which told them when a hurricane was near the latitude of the Carolinas thousands of miles (and 5-7 days) from England. The purpose of this system was to save the lives of anyone at sea but mainly it was for the fishermen on the west coast of England and the merchants. When a hurricane was on it's way a system of flags and messenger pigeons sent the information all over England in about 1 1/2 days.

There is a fluctuation in a slight breeze in the meadows of England, mainly near Cambridge, that abruptly and completely ends right when a hurricane crosses the path of the jet stream. Normally there are very small fluctuations in the winds in the meadows which occur almost all the time but they are normally pretty consistent. Then all of a sudden the wind disappears. It's just a very abrupt and complete halt to the fluctuating wind. The meadows warm up breifly and then the breeze begins again. When that happened on about about August 7 1588, the English knew a hurricane was on it's way. They told the English navy that a hurricane would soon appear. The English fleet knew then that they had five to seven days to get the Spanish under sail and out into the North Sea where that hurricane would scatter and destroy them.

So the Battle of Gravelines started on August 8th. When the Armada tried to sail south the English did all they could to force them to sail north instead as you can see on this map

route of the Spanish ArmadaAll the English needed to do was to keep the Spanish away from any shelter like at the Hague. The English wanted the Spanish out in the middle of the ocean for natures full destruction which was at that moment bearing down on the Isles from several thousands of miles to the south.

And of course that's what happened.

This next part is what the English Captains said about the Spanish right before they ran to the harbor at Newcastle which was two days before the huge gales from the hurricane hit. They went there to take refuge. 

..as many of them will never see Spain again; which is the only work of God, to chastise their malicious practices, and to make them know that neither the strengths of men, not their idolatrous gods can prevail when the mighty God of Israel stretcheth out but his finger against them.

These statements were thinly veiled predictions of the destruction of the Spanish Armada's by the wrath of God and the storms that he would send, as if they didn't know a hurricane was coming. It was and still is a very egocentric English stunt to hint about a secret like this:

This misinformation was to convince you that the destruction came from some supernatural source and then make it so obvious that I can almost see them winking to make certain that we have caught on to the joke. Do you see them winking?

The English knew that two days later (on August 14th) a hurricane remnant was going to hit and destroy the Armada's ships. Some of the ships even ended up crashed on the shores of Norway.

The record (which I helped write, along with the Tilbury Speech, since I was the queen's personal secretary) states that the reason the English ships went to Newcastle was because they ran out of powder and shot.

..the discovery that the fleet lacked powder and shot for 'even half a battle' caused them to give up the idea of a parting attack.(and so they returned immediately to port).

Right! What do you think they have 'tender ships' and 'supply ships' for? That is right, they tail along and they resupply your ship while it is following the Armada. You don't leave the enemy when he is right off your shore, EVER! (Unless a hurricane is about to make a Spanish landing impossible.) Look where the Spanish were. They could have landed in Scotland and been welcomed there. Without the English ships harrasing them they could have landed at many places on the English shore, etc.

You never leave the enemy when they are at your doorstep. You conserve your ammunition until the supply ships catch up but you stay on top of them until they are far, far away or sunk.

Even without tender ships at the most you need to only send one ship to a nearby port to get supplies or to bring back a fast supply ship so that you resupply at sea while following the enemy.

You do not sail for three days tailing the Spanish half way up the channel to Newcastle before you realize that all your ships are completely out of ammunition. (So then of course then you have to run into the nearest harbor right before the Hurricane hits.)

The English fleet knew a hurricane was coming. 

The breezes of which I tell that changed were in Lancashire and near Cambridge, in the meadows. (Actually the breezes probably changed around most of England but the official observations were made near Cambridge.) It was a min-ice age 400 years ago so it may or may not be the same today. This knowledge of these changes preceding a hurricane's arrival was know for at least 400 years in England before it was used against the Armada and it was responsible for saving the lives of many fishermen.

Hurricane Alberto

There was a hurricane in early August 1588 that was similar in many respects to Hurricane Alberto, the early August star of the 2000 hurricane season. Hurricane Alberto appears to have it's own cult following among meteorologist. The above satellite photo is a good view of it from outer space.

jet stream in the us

When the summer heats up the Midwest of the U.S. the air actually expands and bulges higher into the atmosphere. The jet stream at about 35,000 feet has to actually go around it so it bends and goes up into Canada, then it goes south after that.

Here is a picture of the jet stream from outer space. The elevation of jet streams are about 30,000 ft (6 km) up. Most airplanes encounter them and they can sometimes add or subtract a half an hour or more on a coast to coast flight.

A hurricane top is 2 1/2 times the altitude of the jet stream at about 75,000 feet although it's speed is quite slow at 30,000. Hurricanes do change speeds and directions abruptly as they describe here in a flight over one. What the jet streams does is actually hit the hurricane as it is going north. Then the jet stream bounces off of the hurricane and goes up way far to the north at very high speeds. The jet stream bounces around all over Europe. The important point is that the breezes in the meadows of Cambridge stop for a few hours.

Notice how an early season hurricane in the Atlantic often turns east when it goes north? That is the effect that the jet stream has on hurricanes. Hurricanes sometime even head back towards the east and in the case of Alberto (above) it made a complete loop and then headed north again. A hurricane pushing into the jet stream meets enough resistance to actually slow it down. In this case the jet stream literally pushed it eastward and back south. Then it got back on track and made it through the second time. By the way it took 5 days before Alberto was off the coast of Ireland. Except for that complete loop it performed Alberto probably followed a similar path to the Hurricane of 1588.

The jet stream is likewise affected by hurricanes. It's like water from a garden hose pushing a volley ball or a soccer ball. What most people notice is the ball moving but the water is also bounced off of it at high speeds. The spray from the hose can end up getting the neighbors wet on their side of fence. In the case of the jet stream it is bounced all over Europe and makes very abrupt and definite changes to the weather of England. This shows what I am talking about pretty dramatically.

This shows it even more dramatically.

In this flash presentation I superimposed the jet stream and Hurricane Alberto on the US Hurricane Centers 2000 map. It shows the routes of the major hurricanes that year. I made my animated hurricane follow the track of Alberto. This animation shows how the jet stream can be as affected by a hurricane just as a hurricane can be affected by the jet stream. It also blatantly shows why hurricanes end up near England. This more often happens earlier in the season when the jet stream moves farther south in the Atlantic. First the hot summer Midwest air pushes the jet stream into Canada and then it turns and goes farther south when it gets over the Atlantic. Then at the last part of the presentation I put the Armada in the form of four little ships that get sunk. That was the fun part. 

Here is the original map from the Hurricane center before I butchered it. Alberto is the first hurricane track and it is labeled as such. It was the first hurricane of the season and started right off the coast of Africa.

In that lifetime I often wondered how a very slight change in a breeze inland could predict the arrival of a hurricane a week later but it didn't bother me anything like it bothered Queen Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth wracked her brains on this for several years. It must have really bothered her that something like this could go on in her realm without her knowing how it came about. She laid in bed many nights thinking about it for hours until her doctors ordered her to take something to make her sleep. 

Why attribute the defeat of the Spanish Armada repeatedly and so conclusively to God providing the weather that destroyed it? Cheifly it was because the Spanish leaders kept stating that God was on their side so he would provide good weather for their invasion. It was a given that they were going to try again and eventually they would have gotten it right. By attributing the Armada's destruction to God it thoroughly defeated the Spanish in spirit.  Thus they did not repeat their attempt. If you think about it, if the Spanish had tried again they could have easily succeeded. It was very important that we convice them that God was not on their side.

Armada Medal

"God breathed and they were scattered"

Previous Page

All rights reserved. © J Pinil, Inc. 2004