It happened today - May 19, 2015

English ships and the Spanish ArmadaOn May 19 back in 1588 the dreaded Spanish Armada, bombastically the “Invincible Armada,” set out from Lisbon to crush the upstart English, bring Albion back to Rome and subject it to the glorious King of Spain.

It didn’t work. Delayed by a daring raid on Cadiz by that sea dog of all sea dogs, Francis Drake, it finally set out with 130 ships, 2,500 guns and 20,000 soldiers. But Elizabeth I gave an inspiring speech, Drake allegedly finished his game of bowls and sauntered coolly into action, and better English guns and gunners drove the Spanish into Calais where fireships continued the destruction. Finally the Armada fled north around the British Isles where storms sank more ships.

It was the beginning of free England’s rise to naval supremacy, as frustrating as it was baffling to glorious continental despots with unbeatable this and invincible that, on through the Sun King to Napoleon and Hitler. But as John Quincy Adams would later say, “liberty is power.” And it’s the first major illustration of my rule about not attacking the Anglosphere.

Oh, and here’s a vexing footnote to the whole business. You know those emails you get from people in West Africa with a big heap of diamonds or access to a dormant bank account, or in Iraq with a pile of Saddam’s loot etc.? A century ago they used to come from businessmen stranded in Mexico. But way way back, the originals were from Spanish noblemen marooned in Ireland when their Armada ship sank, but with a huge heap of gold back in old Madrid, and if you could just furnish them a few pounds to get them home blah blah blah. That’s why the original name of this scam is “the Spanish prisoner”. The victory was still worth it, though.