A briefe relation of the notable seruice performed by Sir Francis Drake vpon the Spanish Fleete prepared in the Road of Cadiz: and of his destroying of 100. saile of barks; Passing from thence all along the coast to Cape Sacre, where also hee tooke certaine Forts: and so to the mouth of the Riuer of Lisbon, and thence crossing ouer to the Isle of Sant Michael, supprized a mighty Carack called the Sant Philip comming out of the East India, which was the first of that kinde that euer was seene in England: Performed in the yeere 1587.
Her Maiestie being informed of a mightie preparation by Sea begunne in Spaine for the inuasion of England, by good aduise of her graue and prudent Counsell thought it expedient to preuent the same. Whereupon she caused a Fleete of some 30. sailes to be rigged and furnished with all things necessary. Ouer that Fleete she appointed Generall sir Francis Drake (of whose manifold former good seruices she had sufficient proofe) to whom she caused 4. ships of her Nauie royall to be deliuered, to wit, The Bonauenture wherein himselfe went as Generall; the Lion vnder the conduct of Master William Borough Controller of the Nauie; the Dread-nought vnder the command of M. Thomas Venner; and the Rainebow, captaine whereof was M. Henry Bellingham: vnto which 4 ships two of her pinasses were appointed as hand-maids. There were also added vnto this Fleet certaine tall ships of the Citie of London, of whose especiall good seruice the General made particular mention in his priuate Letters directed to her Maiestie. This Fleete set saile from the sound of Plimouth in the moneth of April towards the coast of Spaine.
The 16. of the said moneth we mette in the latitude of 40. degrees with two ships of Middleborough, which came from Cadiz; by which we vnderstood that there was great store of warlike prouision at Cadiz and thereabout ready to come for Lisbon. Vpon this information our Generall with al speed possible, bending himselfe thither to cut off their said forces and prouisions, vpon the 19. of April entered with his Fleet into the Harbor of Cadiz: where at our first entring we were assailed ouer against the Towne by sixe Gallies, which notwithstanding in short time retired vnder their fortresse.
There were in the Road 60. ships and diuers other small vessels vnder the fortresse: there fled about 20. French ships to Port Real, and some small Spanish vessels that might passe the sholdes. At our first comming in we sunke with our shot a ship of Raguza of a 1000. tunnes, furnished with 40. pieces of brasse and very richly laden. There came two Gallies more from S. Mary port, and two from Porto Reale, which shot freely at vs, but altogether in vaine: for they went away with the blowes well beaten for their paines.
Before night we had taken 30. of the said ships, and became Masters of the Road, in despight of the Gallies, which were glad to retire them vnder the Fort: in the number of which ships there was one new ship of an extraordinary hugenesse in burthen aboue 1200. tunnes, belonging to the Marquesse of Santa Cruz being at that instant high Admirall of Spaine. Fiue of them were great ships of Biskay, whereof 4. we fired, as they were taking in the Kings prouision of victuals for the furnishing of his Fleet at Lisbon: the fift being a ship about 1000. tunnes in burthen, laden with Iron spikes, nailes, yron hoopes, horse-shooes, and other like necessaries bound for the West Indies we fired in like maner. Also we tooke a ship of 250. tunnes laden with wines for the Kings prouision, which wee caried out to the Sea with vs, and there discharged the said wines for our owne store, and afterward set her on fire. Moreouer we tooke 3. Flyboats of 300. tunnes a piece laden with biscuit, whereof one was halfe vnladen by vs in the Harborow, and there fired, and the other two we tooke in our company to the Sea. Likewise there were fired by vs ten other ships which were laden with wine, raisins, figs, oiles, wheat, and such like. To conclude, the whole number of ships and barkes (as we suppose) then burnt, suncke, and brought away with vs, amounted to 30. at the least, being (in our iudgement) about 10000. tunnes of shipping.
There were in sight of vs at Porto Real about 40. ships, besides those that fled from Cadiz.
We found little ease during our aboad there, by reason of their continuall shooting from the Gallies, the fortresses, and from the shoare: where continually at places conuenient they planted new ordinance to offend vs with: besides the inconuenience which wee suffered from their ships, which, when they could defend no longer, they set on fire to come among vs. Whereupon when the flood came wee were not a little troubled to defend vs from their terrible fire, which neuerthelesse was a pleasant sight for vs to beholde, because we were thereby eased of a great labour, which lay vpon vs day and night, in discharging the victuals, and other prouisions of the enemie. Thus by the assistance of the almightie, and the inuincible courage and industrie of our Generall, this strange and happy enterprize was atchieued in one day and two nights, to the great astonishment of the King of Spaine, which bread such a corrasiue in the heart of the Marques of Santa Cruz high Admiral of Spaine, that he neuer enioyed good day after, but within fewe moneths (as may iustly be supposed) died of extreame griefe and sorrow.
Thus hauing performed this notable seruice, we came out of the Road of Cadiz on the Friday morning the 21. of the said moneth of April, with very small losse not worth the mentioning.
After our departure ten of the Gallies that were in the Road came out, as it were in disdaine of vs, to make some pastime with their ordinance, at which time the wind skanted vpon vs, whereupon we cast about againe, and stood in with the shoare, and came to an anker within a league of the towne: where the said Gallies, for all their former bragging, at length suffred vs to ride quietly.
We now haue had experience of Gally-fight: wherein I can assure you, that onely these 4. of her Maiesties ships will make no accompt of 20. Gallies, if they may be alone, and not busied to guard others. There were neuer Gallies that had better place and fitter opportunitie for their aduantage to fight with ships: but they were still forced to retire, wee riding in a narrow gut, the place yeelding no better, and driuen to maintaine the same, vntill wee had discharged and fired the shippes, which could not conueniently be done but vpon the flood, at which time they might driue cleare off vs. Thus being victualed with bread and wine at the enemies cost for diuers moneths (besides the prouisions that we brought from home) our Generall dispatched Captaine Crosse into England with his letters, giuing him further in charge to declare vnto her Maiestie all the particularities of this our first enterprize.
After whose departure wee shaped our course toward Cape Sacre, and in the way thither wee tooke at seuerall times of ships, barkes, and Carauels well neere an hundred, laden with hoopes, gally-oares, pipe-staues, and other prouisions of the king of Spaine, for the furnishing of his forces intended against England, al which we burned, hauing dealt fauourably with the men and sent them on shoare. We also spoiled and consumed all the fisher-boats and nets thereabouts, to their great hinderance: and (as we suppose) to the vtter ouerthrow of the rich fishing of their Tunies for the same yere. At length we came to the aforesaid Cape Sacre, where we went on land; and the better to enioy the benefite of the place, and to ride in the harborow at our pleasure, we assailed the same castle, and three other strong holds, which we tooke some by force and some by surrender.
Thence we came before the hauen of Lisbon ankering nere vnto Cascais, where the Marques, of Santa Cruz was with his Gallies, who seeing vs chase his ships a shoare, and take and cary away his barks and Carauels, was content to suffer vs there quietly to tary, and likewise to depart, and neuer charged vs with one canon-shot. And when our Generall sent him worde that hee was there ready to exchange certaine bullets with him, the marques refused his chalenge, sending him word, that he was not then ready for him, nor had any such Commission from his King.
The Carack called the Sanct Philip taken. Our Generall thus refused by the Marques, and seeing no more good to be done in this place, thought it conuenient to spend no longer time vpon this coast: and therefore with consent of the chiefe of his Company he shaped his course toward the Isles of the Açores, and passing towards the Isle of Saint Michael, within 20. or 30. leagues thereof, it was his good fortune to meete with a Portugale Carak called Sant Philip, being the same shippe which in the voyage outward had carried the 3. Princes of Iapan, that were in Europe, into the Indies. This Carak without any great resistance he tooke, bestowing the people thereof in certaine vessels well furnished with victuals, and sending them courteously home into their Countrey: and this was the first Carak that euer was then comming foorth of the East Indies; which the Portugals tooke for an euil signe, because the ship bare the Kings owne name.
The riches of this prize seemed so great vnto the whole Company (as in trueth it was) that they assured themselues euery man to haue a sufficient reward for his trauel: and thereupon they all resolued to returne home for England: which they happily did, and arriued in Plimouth the same Sommer with their whole Fleete and this rich booty, to their owne profite and due commendation, and to the great admiration of the whole kingdome.
And here by the way it is to be noted, that the taking of this Carak wrought two extraordinary effects in England: first, that it taught others, that Caracks were no such bugs but that they might be taken (as since indeed it hath fallen out in the taking of the Madre de Dios, and fyreing and sinking of others) and secondly in acquainting the English Nation more generally with the particularities of the exceeding riches and wealth of the East Indies: whereby themselues and their neighbours of Holland haue bene incouraged, being men as skilfull in Nauigation and of no lesse courage then the Portugals to share with them in the East Indies: where their strength is nothing so great as heretofore hath bene supposed.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51