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The Tudors (1485- 1603) - Important events

Armada

Expanding important Tudor events mainly in the last 20 years of Elizabeth’s reign

  • The Spanish Armada
  • Irish colonisation and rule
  • Explorers, Pirates and Privateers
  • Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots
  • Religion
  • Important men in the Tudor Age
  • The Muslim threat

The Spanish Armada

In 1586 the Spanish, under King Philip 2nd  and fully supported by the Pope decided to prepare a fleet to invade England and remove the Protestant “bastard” Elizabeth from the throne. (Armada = fleet of armed warships).

In 1587 Francis Drake having being informed of this military build up in the Spanish port of Cadiz set out with a small pirate force and sailed boldly into Cadiz and set fire to many of the Spanish ships and then beat a hasty retreat. This put to Armada date back more than a year.

In 1588 the Spanish had rebuilt their fleet and finally set sail towards England. Their plan was to sail towards the Spanish ruled Netherlands and pick up a mass of soldiers and then attack London.

The English had been following the massive build up of arms in Cadiz as such huge purchases from all over Europe were impossible to keep secret. The English fleet was under the command of Lord Charles Howard and was split into three parts.

  • In the West Country at Plymouth a small force under Francis Drake
  • Off Kent the main fleet under Howard.
  • Near London at Tilbury where Elizabeth at 55 made the most famous rallying speech of her reign (“I’m only a woman but…..”)

English lookouts spotted the huge Armada of 130 ships sailing in battle ready crescent formation off the coast of Cornwall. This news was signalled to all southern coastal ports and London within hours using the old Roman method of lighting fires on chosen hills (Beacons)

Drake, as legend has it, was in no hurry to set sail from Plymouth but chose to first finish his game of bowls. The most likely explanation was that he couldn’t put to sea because the tide was against him in the river Tamar. The story goes that Drake did fire a few shots at long range and sank a couple of the huge Spanish Galleons but he was more interested in seeking out the Spanish paymasters ship for a bit of pirating.

The English won. How?

  • English ship-mounted cannon had longer range that the Spanish equivalent and therefore the English could fire at the Spanish and score hits while  the Spanish cannon balls were falling short.
  • English sailing ships were generally smaller and more manoeuvrable which worked well at close quarters.
  • English ships captains were generally better tacticians than the Spanish. Many English captains were pirates and to survive in that trade when you were generally out numbered you had to be good.
  • The battle is sometimes described as Drake’s Armada. But the Captain of the English Fleet was Lord Charles Howard a cousin of Elizabeth who was not an experienced sailor. Drake was the tactical expert but annoyed his compatriots by disobeying orders and seeking out the Spanish bullion ship (there to pay the wages of the Spaniards) with a view to pirating it.
  • The English also had the weather on their side because a storm blew up and scattered many of the Spanish fleet and they never returned to fight and were chased north all the way to Scotland by the English. The majority of the Spanish fleet were sunk by the weather off the west coast of Ireland.
  • The Spanish fleet consisted of 130 ships and only 60 made it back to Spain. The English fleet was 197 smaller ships and fewer men. 

Ireland

Irish Colonisation under Elizabeth.

The English had ruled parts of Ireland from 1171 when English King Henry 2nd was asked by the Irish leader Dermot MacMurrough  for help to sort out his civil war. The English stayed and had tried half heartedly, on and off to conquer Ireland for the next 400 years as they found their land in France much more agreeable.

Henry 8th who had no land in France other than Calais, called himself King of Ireland, but only ruled in Dublin and the surrounding area.

Mary who lost Calais extended her father’s territory in Ireland west of Dublin by sending in English settlers to populate the farms in that area. They were called Plantations.

When Elizabeth turned England Protestant she found herself on a small Protestant island surrounded by an angry Catholic Europe to the east and south and a Catholic Ireland to the west. She decided to hugely extend Mary’s plantations with Protestant English land owners to keep Catholic Spanish invaders from using Ireland as a stepping stone to England. This naturally led to riots and attacks on the planted English Farms which eventually involved Spanish forces who came to help their Catholic brothers. In all there were five major riots each lasting years rather than months. Elizabeth sent trusted favourites to quell the riots notably Sir Walter Raleigh  who was given huge estates by Elizabeth to reward him for beating the Irish/Spanish militias sometimes with extreme cruelty. The north of Ireland had never been brought under English control and was the heart of Gaelic strength organised by the Irish families of O’Neil and O’Donnell. Elizabeth’s English colonizers were no match for these Irish, so Elizabeth sent her most flamboyant trusty, the Earl of Essex to quell the riots. He failed and left his army behind in Ireland to fend for themselves. Elizabeth was furious even though the two acted like lovers. Essex was banished from court.

The second time Elizabeth took no chances with flamboyant favourites and sent one of her best army captains, Charles Blount the Lord Mountjoy. This time the crack Irish militia were conquered and their leaders surrendered. Sadly they decided Ireland was no longer their home and left for Catholic France where they disappeared without trace. (The so called “Flight of the Earls”). This left the whole of Ulster leaderless and many farms vacant and Elizabeth certainly did not stand in the way of the many Protestant English and Presbyterian Scots from filling the vacuum. Gaelic Ireland was never the same again as the English and Scots brought in their culture and advanced farming methods.  Elizabeth was the first English monarch to rule the whole of Ireland.

Religion

Elizabeth was born into a country experiencing the birth of a new religion, the Protestant version of Christianity. This was not the first split in the Christian church. Indeed 500 years earlier the Church leaders in Constantinople split from those in Rome creating the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic denominations. In Tudor times they split again. This is called the Reformation and was started by a German priest Martin Luther who rebelled against the corrupt practices of the Christian Church of Western Europe based in Rome which had made the Church immensely rich by selling the idea to the poor parishioners that to get to heaven it was necessary to pay the Church lots of money. Similarly to be forgiven earthly sins more money had to change hands, the so called selling of indulgencies. Protestants thought that bibles and prayer books must be in English rather than Latin and similarly that church services should be in English rather than Latin. They also preached that parishioners should not always ask the priest how to interpret the Bible but that they should learn to read and think through the scriptures for themselves. This encouraged a freedom of thought and action never before achieved which feed down into all ideas notably in science leading to a huge boost to the economy.  The economic benefits were obvious in both England and Holland.

The Protestant Church of Luther and his followers like Calvin and John Knox of Scotland were extreme revolutionaries who demanded a total change to back to basics religion, where priests were poor and gold and silver adorned alters were removed together with such pleasantries as music and singing.

Elizabeth was a religious expert and led the church leaders in England down a middle path, getting rid of dubious concepts which permitted the selling of indulgencies, the elimination of the concepts of limbo, purgatory and private confessions. The removal of dogmatic celibate priests speaking in Latin and introducing the concept of married priest who preached in English and encouraged his flock to read, think and understand. Elizabeth also retained music and singing in church and an alter but without the obvious mass of silver and gold church adornments. This is the Church of England also known as the Episcopal or Anglican Church.

In Elizabethan England this left a sizeable minority of people who quietly and “illegally” remained Catholic or preferred the extreme practices of the Protestants who included the Puritans in England and the Lutherans in Scotland, called Presbyterians. Remember those who split from Rome 500 years previously are known as “Orthodox” very often as Greek or Russian Orthodox. They are very similar to Roman Catholics but claim to have produced the original theological rules of the Christian Church from their headquarters in Constantinople and nearby Nicea. The city of Constantinople the original centre of Christian religious dogma is now called Istanbul following the capture and occupation by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453 when all Christian Churches including the largest ever built, The Church of St Sofia was turned into a mosque. 

The Elizabethan Pirates and Explorers

Britain eventually ruled the waves as the most powerful country in the world. The foundations to this super power status was commenced by Elizabeth who encouraged wild and ruthless men to design new ships and sails and guns, explore the world, colonise land and get rich from pirating.

The key players were in chronological order were;

Sir John Hawkings

1532-1595, Pirate and Slave Trader (The first of many), ship designer and builder; born Plymouth Devon the son of a major ship builder. Elder cousin, friend and partner of Francis Drake.

Sir Martin Frobisher

1535-1594 Pirate, Explorer and naval commander, born in Yorkshire he became somewhat of a loose canon and embarrassment to Elizabeth as she tried to find peace with the Spaniards. He turned explorer to seek out the North West Passage but was more interested in finding gold. He and his backers which included Elizabeth lost money when he explored but he redeemed himself with his contribution as a captain against the Armada.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert

1539-1583, Explorer, colonizer, ruthless soldier, parliamentarian, born in Devon and educated at Cambridge, succeeded in influencing Elizabeth to back settlements in Munster, Ireland and America, half brother of Walter Raleigh who set up Roanoke following advice from Gilbert.

Sir Richard Grenville

1541-1591 Soldier, Sailor, MP for Cornwall, friend of Gilbert and Drake. Joined Gilbert in establishing English settlements is South West Ireland (Munster), transported the first English settlers to Roanoke Island off North Carolina-then Virginia and pirated a Spanish bullion ship on route home. Played an important role against the Spanish Armada and then was involved with patrolling the coast of Munster against the Spanish. Died after a trip to the Azores to plunder Spanish ships when Philip 2nd of Spain sent out a huge squadron to capture him. However as immortalized by Tennyson this Spanish fleet were subsequently wiped out in a huge hurricane.     

Sir Francis Drake

1542-1596 Pirate, Slave trader, Navigator, explorer, head and shoulders above his contemporaries. Also from the West of England, (Devon), in 1567 he initially sailed with his elder cousin John Hawkings on slaving voyages and was caught by the Spanish who hijacked his cargo of West African slaves, killed many  English sailors and captured a ship belonging to Queen Elizabeth herself. From this date EnglandSpain were effectively at war which culminated in the Spanish invading Armada of 1588 and Francis Drake being driven by a personal vendetta against the Spanish. In 1572 this initially involved him targeting Spanish mule trains as they crossed the hills in Panama en-route from Peru to the waiting Spanish ships in the Caribbean. Drake was then England’s most successful Privateer and Elizabeth was proud of him. Driven again by hatred of the Spanish in 1575 he set sail south round the Spanish controlled tip of South America and sailed north in the Pacific to ransack Spanish settlements in Peru. Drake than sailed up the coast to California and claimed it for Elizabeth, then ambitiously crossed the Pacific Ocean where he easily located the Spice Islands (between Indonesia and the Philippines), the Moluccas and did a deal for spices to come to England by-passing the dreaded Ottoman Muslims and sailed home round the southern tip of Africa arriving in 1581. The first round the world trip led by a single man. Very profitable too for Elizabeth who received enough treasure to pay off the whole of her national debt.

He was Knighted on the spot and immediately sent off to attack Spanish settlements in the Caribbean in an open act of war.  In 1587 he heard that the Spanish were assembling a fleet to invade England in their portCadiz, so without ado he sailed across the Atlantic straight into the port of Cadiz and set fire, captured or sunk 24 Spanish ships.

In 1588 the Spanish having replaced their lost ships set sail to invade England and replace Elizabeth with a suitable Catholic. The so called Armada. The Spanish were no match for the smaller, more manoeuvrable, heavily armed English navy and the naval captains like Drake who had honed their skills as the Queens pirates. Drake in fact annoyed his peers during the Armada by spending valuable time capturing the Spanish payship for his own personal gain. Drake died in 1596 during his last pirating voyage to the Caribbean by which time the Spanish had considerably strengthened their defences.

Sir Walter Raleigh 1554-1618

Flamboyant, educated, soldier, Irish land owner, explorer, pirate, courtier, poet and colonialist.

Raleigh was born near Budleigh Salterton in Devon and was the younger half brother of Humphrey Gilbert and in 1578 when Raleigh was 24 they sailed to America together. Both were educated men and the trip inspired their desire to support colonisation. In 1580 he travelled to southern Ireland to help suppress an uprising  supported by the Pope plus an Italian army which surrendered. Raleigh and his party murdered all the Irish and Italians they could find. This brought him to the court of Elizabeth when he was given huge estates in Ireland as reward for his services to the crown! He now should have been a rich man but he found difficulty in finding the right people to manage his estates. In 1584 Elizabeth made him an MP and he was granted more Irish land. Elizabeth obviously found him an attractive personality helped by his education, good looks and manners and the poetry he wrote for her. Unfortunately in 1592 he fell in love and secretly married one of Elizabeth’s maids of honour, Elizabeth Throckmorton. Elizabeth enraged and jealous threw the newly weds into the Tower. Raleigh never again regained the friendship of the Queen.

Raleigh is known for bringing Tobacco and Potatoes from North America to England. There is no historical proof that he actually did. He certainly made smoking popular in England by regularly smoking at court and he certainly was the first to try and grow potatoes but nobody liked them in England. However from his Irish estates he commenced the Irish liking for eating potatoes.

Sir Walter Raleigh is sometimes accredited for starting the first English colony in North America. In 1585 he certainly organised the passage for the first 300 settlers but Elizabeth stopped him going. Instead the fleet was led by Sir Richard Grenville.

Sir Richard Hawkins 1562-1622

Pirate, maritime explorer, naval captain and MP. Son of John Hawkins and friend of Drake. His main ambition was to copy the round the world trip of Francis Drake and make a fortune by plundering and pirating while making scientific observations. The Spanish in Chile thought better of it and threw him in jail. 

Mary Stuart also known as Mary Queen of Scots

Why is Mary Stuart important in the reign of Elizabeth?

Because

  • Mary was the mother of King James 1st of England who succeeded Elizabeth
  • Mary was a Catholic and being directly related to King Henry 7th was next in line to the English throne after Elizabeth. She was involved with a number of plots with powerful Catholic forces in Europe and at home to kill Elizabeth so that a Catholic Queen could once again rule England. Elizabeth eventually had to execute her for treason.

Mary, born in 1542, was the daughter of King James 5th of Scotland and his second wife, the French heiress Mary of Guise. Her father died when she was 6 days old when she became Queen of Scots and her mother acted as Regent. She was immediately sent to France where 15 years later she married the heir to the French throne. A year later the French King died unexpectedly and Mary became Queen of France in 1559. Which also meant that Scotland and France had the came Catholic Queen who was second in line to the English throne. Elizabeth had just been made Queen of England. Fortunately Mary’s husband, Francois 2nd died a year later. Mary almost immediately returned to Scotland to take her place as a Catholic Queen in a country which following John Knox was rapidly turning Protestant. Four years later in 1565 Mary marries again this time to her Scottish cousin Henry Stuart, the Lord Darnley and Mary is soon pregnant with the future James 6th of Scotland and 1st of England. However the attractive and vivacious Mary is thought to have a lover, her male secretary the Italian David Rizzio who is duly murdered by Lord Darnley. Mary faithfully gives birth to James but six months later Darnley is Murdered by the Earl of Bothwell who Mary then takes as her next husband. The Scottish people had had enough and she is forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James and put in prison. From here in 1568 she escapes and flees to the sanctuary and hopeful protection in England with her cousin Elizabeth.

Not so, Elizabeth puts her under house arrest  but this does not stop Mary from immediately plotting with the Duke of Norfolk to overthrow Elizabeth. When this is discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh now acting as spy master, Elizabeth signs her execution warrant.  

Other key people 

who hugely contributed to the thinking, actions and discoveries of the Tudor age and beyond.

  • Bacon, Francis; early English philosopher, scientist, lawyer and advisor to the court of Elizabeth. It was rumoured he was Elizabeth’s illegitimate son with Robert Dudley but there is no proof.
  • Cabot, John; Italian explorer, (Giovanni Caboto) first to discover Canada,  financed by England’s King Henry 7th but using a crew made up of fishermen from Bristol who had probably been there many times before! Born Italy 1450- 1499
  • Charles 5th Holy Roman Emperor, born in Gent, Flanders. The most powerful man in Europe, uncle of Katherine of Aragon, father of Philip of Spain the husband of Queen Mary, ruler of Spain and the Hapsburgs,  jailor of the Pope. Succeeded but not directly involved with keeping the powerful Muslim Ottomans out of western Europe and supporter of Spain’s ruthless exploitation and expansion in Latin America. 1500-88
  • Columbus, Christopher; Italian explorer, discovered America for the Spanish in the reign of Henry 7th 1451-1506
  • Cortes, Hernando. Spanish warrior, explorer. In 1519 he and other Spaniards destroyed, Inquisition style, the early Mexican civilizations of the 700 year old Mayers in the Yucatan, the Aztecs centred around Mexico City and the Incas of Peru as they plundered silver and put to the sword those who did not immediately convert to Christianity. Central and South America have remained largely Spanish speaking and Catholic ever since and their power base in the south forced the English colonisers towards North America.  1485-1547
  • Cranmer, Thomas; English religious reformer, made Archbishop of Canterbury following the demise of Cardinal Wolsey,  responsible for the Prayer Book in English in the reign of Henry 8th  Murdered by Queen Mary. 1489-1556
  • Cromwell, Thomas, English religious reformer, became Henry 8th ‘s senior advisor after demise of Wolsey, separated England from Roman Church, Dissolution of Monasteries, murdered by Henry 8th 1485-1540
  • Drake, Francis; English explorer, pirate, admiral, first to sail round the world,  Elizabeth 1st 1540-96
  • Ferdinand and Isabella, Spanish King and Queen , parents of Henry 8th first wife Katherine of Aragon, conquerors of southern Spain against the Muslims, murders of thousands of Jews in the Spanish Inquisition. 1452-1516    
  • Gama, Vasco da; Portuguese explorer, first to sail to India from Europe round Africa thus avoiding the dreaded Muslim Ottomans, Henry 7th  1469-1524
  • Hawkins, John; English architect of the new more powerful Elizabethan Navy, also major slave trader, pirate, navigator, and friend of Raleigh, Elizabeth 1st  1532-95
  • Knox, John; Scottish Protestant reformer in the reign of Edward 6th. 1514-72
  • Lancaster, James. English explorer and merchant, initially serving under Drake against the Spanish Armada, became the first Englishman to reach India and the first Englishman to set up a trading post in India, director of the East India company. Elizabeth 1st 1554-1618.
  • Luther, Martin; German religious reformer in the reign of Henry 8th His main complaint was the habit of the Catholic Church to take money off the poor to ensure their passage to heaven. 1483-1546
  • More, Thomas; English statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and saint who became chief advisor to Henry 8th after Wolsey. Murdered by Henry for opposing separation from the Pope.1477-1535
  • Raleigh, Walter; English explorer, colonialist, writer, poet, first Englishman to set up a colony in North America, first importer of the potato and tobacco all in the reign of Elizabeth 1stst  1554-1618Murdered by King James 1
  • Shakespeare, William; English playwright, poet and actor working in the time of Elizabeth 1st and after 1564-1616
  • Suleiman 1st the most powerful Muslim Ottoman, law giver and statesman with over 500 wives and 100s of sons ruling at the same time as Henry 8th and Elizabeth 1st , 1520-66
  • Vespucci, Amerigo; 1454-1512. Another Italian explorer, navigator and cartographer financed by the Spanish. The name America comes from the female version of his name which was spotted on one of his maps which drew the eastern seaboard of North and South America.
  • Wolsey, Cardinal Thomas, English church leader, but financially ambitious and ruthless, a good example of all that was wrong with the church prior to the Reformation, effective ruler of England in the early part of Henry 8th’ reign, builder of Hampton Court Palace from illicit funds and founder of Christ Church Collage Oxford. Henry 8th  1475-1530 

Science and technology in Tudor times

  • The gun. Initially the cannon, first used in Europe by the Islamic Turks to knock down the previously impregnable walls of the eastern centre of Christianity in Constantinople (Istanbul). Then a rifle looking device, the Harquebus, carried by for example by the bodyguards of Tudor Kings. (Yeoman of the Guard)
  • The printing press. Quickly used in England to print copies of the Bible in English and to distribute government notices.
  • Glass. Although glass had been invented for well over 1000 years, its use for windows had been limited to churches. During Tudor times not only Kings could afford glass windows but also the new middle classes made up from the growing number of rich international traders living across the country. Bedrooms became warm, draught free and light for the first time.
  • Ships before this time had been single masted and were not good at sailing into the wind. Driven by Henry the Navigator (Portuguese grandson of English John of Gaunt) the Portuguese began to sail south down the coast of Africa in the rough Atlantic seas to find the source of African gold thus bypassing the unfriendly Muslims of North Africa. The three masted ship (the Carrack) was developed which due to its much greater tonnage was soon used by English traders too, for example, to ship Newcastle coal to London. Coal soon became cheaper at the point of consumption. One of the problems of sailing south down the coast of Africa was getting home as it was generally against the wind. This was solved in two ways. Firstly by the development of the three masted Caravele, “lateen rigged”, which could sail an astonishing 5 points into the wind.  And secondly by the discovery of the circular “trade winds” which allowed, if they sailed due west from the bulge of Africa rather than north, to be blown back in a circular route to Lisbon.

The Muslim Threat

As today, also in Tudor times the Muslims were a worry to Christian Europe particularly the Hungarians, Austrians and the Spanish. The English, while very aware of the aggressive Muslim Turks, (they had a diplomat in Istanbul), were too far west to be invaded. However to put things in perspective it must be remembered that the impetus for the Spanish financing Christopher Columbus and Henry Tudor financing John Cabot was to find routes to China and the Spice Islands which were not blocked by the Muslim Turks. This Muslim blockade also caused Henry the Navigator to develop new ships which would sail away from the Muslim Turks and enter the wild and windy Atlantic Ocean.

Muslim culture, economic and military strength, science and mathematics had been, up to Tudor times, ahead of Roman Catholic Christian Europe. The Muslim Turks of the Ottoman Empire were the first to use large Cannon (Guns) in European warfare. They used them to breach the walls of the impregnable Christian city of Constantinople the headquarters of the Eastern Christian Church and the only part of the grand old Roman Empire which had remained intact after the fall of Rome through the Dark Ages and Medieval times. Indeed the Muslims did Europe a favour by causing the Christian academics and artists in Constantinople to flee west and re-inhabit parts of Italy so creating the so called Renaissance. It should be remembered that Constantinople was in Tudor times by far the largest city in Europe and the centre of trade for goods from China and all points east.

The Muslims had slowly overrun Christian territories as early as 711 when they invaded Spain and FranceNorth Africa. Fortunately for Europe the Frankish grandfather of Charlemagne was strong enough to repel them south and contain them in Spain.  Charlemagne was appointed the first Holy Roman Emperor. That is the military arm of the Pope specifically set up to combat the Muslim armies.   Western Europeans were not seriously involved in battles against the Muslims until the Crusades which commenced in 1096 and effectively stopped 200 years later in 1291. The Crusades were requested by the old Roman leaders in Constantinople to retrieve Jerusalem from the Muslims and were implemented following the Pope’s requests to various devout Christian Kings including Richard  the Lion Heart. They failed and Jerusalem  2 years later in 1301 an even more powerful Muslim, Osman the Turk, commenced the Islamic expansion west. After 150 years of continuous battles the Turks took Constantinople and occupied Greece and the Balkans. By Tudor times they occupied Hungary and in 1529 they had Vienna under siege. from remained under Muslim control.

In 1529 Henry 8th was the King of England, Charles 5th The Holy Roman Emperor and Suleiman the Magnificent was the Sultan of Constantinople which the Muslims had renamed Istanbul. The latter city had a population of  over 125,000 people compared to London with less then 50,000. Henry was notable for having six wives, one after the other and killing 2 of them. Suleiman by contrast had over 1500 wives simultaneously and so many sons that he murdered the poor boys who did not toe the line. If 1500 wives were not enough he also had over 1000 concubines.

With Vienna under siege by Muslims, defence should have been available from The Holy Roman Emperor as this was the purpose of his position. Unfortunately the then incumbent Charles 5th was busy with Henry 8th attacking France. But fortunately the huge Muslim army of 300,000 men had been drastically weakened by appalling weather with early snows and heavy flooding. This did not suit the Ottoman camels nor the huge cannon they tried to drag along, necessary to breach the walls of Vienna. The city held and Europe was saved from further Muslim land excursions westward.

The Mediterranean Sea however remained an “Ottoman Lake” until 1571 when the Austrian Don John  the illegitimate son of Charles 5th  and half brother of Philip 2nd of Spain led a fleet of ships  under the banner of the Holy League to attack a build up of Muslims ships in the Gulf of Lepanto. (Now called the Gulf of Corinth in western Greece). This Ottoman fleet was bigger in numbers than anything the Europeans could muster at the time even though the Pope had been praying for support to see off this threat to RomeEurope. European countries and city states who supplied ships and manpower were Genoa and Venice and the Papal States (all from Italy), Spain and a small fleet from the Knights of St John based in Malta. Not withstanding being outnumbered the European Christians won this decisive sea battle called the Battle of Lepanto because their ship mounted cannon were better and their on-board soldiers were equipped with firearms compared with the Turk’s bows and arrows. This battle proved to be the turning point in the 500 years of Muslim superiority over Christian armies and commenced the steady advance of European armies eastwards which culminated with the British army retaking Jerusalem at the end of the First World War in 1917. plus the Papal States and much of southern

Readers should note that;

  • The Battle of Lepanto was the last fort with galleys, that is ships driven with oars rather than sails. Oarsmen were by and large slaves.
  • The Muslim Archers were a special troupe of men who honed their skills with a life time of practice. Christian cannon, muskets and swords killed the lot and they were never replaced. English arms dealers were quick to fill this vacuum by selling Muskets across the length and breadth of the Muslim world which then included the Ottomans in Eastern Europe, Jerusalem and across to Iraq, the Safavids in Iran and the Mughals in India.
  • Serious Muslim aggression into eastern Europe tied down the Catholic armies of Spain and then France in the 17th century who otherwise would have been attacking England.

Other world civilisations fall.

China and Central and South America

China in Tudor times.

We have seen that England and other European countries desperately wanted to trade with China for their silks, porcelain, tea, gunpowder and paper making technologies. Ming China in Tudor times had the largest population in the world (Over 100 million compared to England’s 5 million) and was the largest economy with the largest Navy patrolling the China and Indian Oceans. Europe was too far distant to be threatened. Indeed the civilisations which they had visited were deemed to be so inferior that the Chinese leaders called a halt to all overseas exploration exactly at the same time as the inferior Europeans were discovering and colonising the Americas. The Ming Dynasty collapsed around 1650.

South and Central America

During Tudor times Spain and Portugal stole a march on England and commenced the colonization of this area notably Mexico and what is now called Peru. Both areas had developed a primitive civilisation but which was even in 1500 nowhere as advanced as say Egypt and Iraq had been 3000 years previously. The Aztecs had settled round the present Mexico City area and the Incas in the mountain areas of Peru. The Spanish, hot from finally ridding Spain from advanced Muslim and Jewish cultures unless these folk converted to Roman Catholicatism destroyed both the Aztecs and the Incas and stole their wealth in precious metals. The Portuguese men folk who colonized Brazil to grow sugar interbred with local native Americans and black female slaves imported from Africa and produced amongst other things great footballers and beautiful women. Brazil had no culture to destroy. This should be seen in contrast to the English colonization of North America where the norm was to travel and settle with your wife and family. North America like Brazil generally did not have the right climate, animals to domesticate and local foods available to develop further than hunting and gathering.