Francis Drake Sails Across the World

published on July 2, 2020

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1560s and 70s Protestant England under

Queen Elizabeth was the bitter rival of

Philip the second Catholic Spain Philip

ruled over a vast new world empire that

produced a fortune in gold and silver

for the Spanish Treasury the English

looked on with envy though England and

Spain weren't technically at war

Elizabeth secretly supported English

pirates and smugglers who set out to get

rich at spain's expense amongst them

Francis Drake Drake had made several

voyages to Spain's new world empire

where he'd sold African slaves and

raided ships and settlements in Panama

he'd climbed a tree to get a view of the

Pacific Ocean and dreamed of becoming

the first Englishman to sail it his

chance came in 1577 when the Queen

entrusted him with a secret mission to

raid the Spanish empires Pacific coast

on the 13th of december drake sailed for

the new world with five ships 164 men


Drake's fleet captured several Spanish

and Portuguese ships as well as a

Portuguese navigator who knew the South

American coast and became their guide

after a rough crossing of the Atlantic

and 63 days without sight of land Drake

reached the coast of Brazil he struggled

south in heavy seas to reach Berto San

Julio by June here he decided to wait

out the winter storms 58 years before

Magellan leader of the first and at that

time only expedition to sail around the

world at wintered at the exact same

place Drake's crew even found grisly

remains of the men Magellan had had

executed here for mutiny by coincidence

Drake also put on trial one of his

leading officers here

Thomas Doughty and found him guilty of

trying to sabotage the expedition he too

was executed Drake by now down to just

three ships continued south he made a

smooth passage of the Magellan Strait in

just 16 days during which he renamed the

Pelican his flagship the Golden Hind a

tribute to Sir Christopher Hatton one of

the expedition sponsors and his coat of


in September Drake and his men became

the first Englishman to reach the

Pacific where they were met by 52 days

of hurricane winds and mountainous seas

one ship the Marigold was lost with all

hands another the Elizabeth sailed back

through the Strait and fled for home

only the Golden Hind was left

driven south towards Cape Horn and into

the world's roughest seas Europeans

believed a great southern continent lay

in this region but Drake saw only more

ocean there was no southern continent

here but there was an open sea route

around the tip of America one which

would later bear his name

the winds eventually eased and Drake

sailed north hoping to barter for

supplies with local tribes on Moka

Island but they mistook Drake's men for

the hated Spanish and attacked two of

Drake's men were killed but he himself

was badly wounded despite this setback

Drake had now arrived at the Spanish

Pacific coast which was virtually

unguarded and had received no warning of

his approach it was the start of one of

the greatest robbing sprees of all time

first he hid the Spanish port of

Valparaiso where he took Chilean gold

and wine then Arica where he seized 40

bars of silver at El kayo he robbed

every ship in the harbor but more

valuable than any loot he was told that

the Spanish treasure ship nuestra senora

de la concepción had sailed north just

two weeks before

Drake set off in pursuit and overtook

the Spanish galleon off the coast of


the Spanish crew had no reason to fear

an English pirate in the Pacific such a

thing was unheard of so when the Golden

Hind opened fire they were taken

completely by surprise and quickly

surrendered in the galleons holed

Drake's men found 36 kilos of gold 26

tons of silver 13 chests of silver coin

jewels and a golden crucifix a Hall

worth today around sixty million dollars

the Golden Hind

using Peruvian silver for ballast

continued up the coast stopping off to

raid huatulco in modern Mexico for


the last few months Drake had been

desperately hoping to rejoin the

Marigold unaware of her destruction in

the southern ocean now he was forced to

accept that the ship and his comrades

were lost and headed up the Pacific

Coast hoping to find a theoretical

Northwest Passage back to the Atlantic

and England

Drake may have sailed as far north as

Vancouver Island before giving up and

returning to land in California which he

named Nova Albion New Britain and

claimed on behalf of Queen Elizabeth the

English were welcomed by local Miwok

Native Americans the English thought

they were being welcomed as gods but

it's possible that with their pale faces

they were instead seen by the Miwok as

ancient spirits returned from the dead

Drake's men spent five weeks making

repairs to the Golden Hind

because they knew there was now only one

way home the Spanish in South America

were on high alert and if a Northwest

Passage did exist Drake had failed to

find it so he would sail west across the

vast Pacific Ocean and circumnavigate

the earth in order to get home Drake set

sail on the 23rd of July 1579 for 68

days they had no sight of land

but then finally reached Palau

but then the Philippines

they sailed on to the spice or Maluku

islands and added priceless cloves to a

cargo that was already worth a fortune

but as the golden highland set off for

home disaster struck beyond sight of

land in deep water the ship suddenly hit

a reef and stuck fast

the sailors thought they were doomed

they threw cannon and some of their

priceless cargo overboard to lighten the

ship and prayed to God 20 hours later in

what seemed to drakes men a miracle

winds and tight lifted them off the reef

the Golden Hind continued to thread its

way through the islands of Indonesia and

after a two-week stop in Java Drake set

sail across the Indian Ocean in June he

rounded the Cape of Good Hope and put in

at Sierra Leone for fresh supplies

without further incident

he reached Plymouth on the 26th of

September 1580 with 59th surviving crew

his cargo of gold silver and spices made

a fortune for Drake and the investors in

his voyage their return was an estimated

four thousand six hundred percent

Queen Elizabeth was one of those to

profit handsomely from his success the

following year at Drake knighted aboard

the Golden Hind in

Drake's remarkable voyage made him the

first Englishman to circumnavigate the

globe he would go on to win even greater

fame with a leading role in the defeat

of the Spanish Armada eight years later

Sir Francis Drake today remains one of

England's greatest naval heroes Drake's

daring expedition is part of a story of

human exploration that goes right back

into prehistory if you want to find out

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