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Historical Figures - Sir Francis Drake for Kids

Sir Francis Drake will be remembered as many things - a pirate, sailor and an English hero. What he is most famous for is defeating the Spanish Armada and for circumnavigating the seas on his galleon (ship) Golden Hind - in search of Spanish gold.

Born into a middle-class family in 1540, Francis Drake would soon take to the seas. He was a very bright young man and would move quickly through the ranks to become his own captain. Within just 27 years, he would set off on an expedition, which his cousin John Hawkins was in charge. 

The expedition would take them to Africa where they captured slaves to be sold in the New World (America). It wouldn't run as smoothly as Hawkins had hoped and the entire fleet was attacked in the New World by the Spanish. The only ships that managed to escape were the one's captained by Drake and Hawkins.

With this experience under his belt, Drake refused to go back to dry land, he continued to sail the seas and wage war against the Spanish. In 1572, he took two relatively small ships and headed to the Spanish Empire around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Against the odds, his determination won him victory over many Spanish colonies and his two small ships were full to the brim with treasures.

Five years later, Queen Elizabeth I assigned him a secret mission to attack the Spanish. He left England with a total of five ships, including his own - The Pelican. He had many obstacles ahead of him including stormy weather conditions and some very violent and bloody battles with the Spanish. All but The Pelican was lost in battle and he sailed on, renaming his ship the Golden Hind.

His hatred for the Spanish was magnified by his recent encounters and he entered the Pacific to revenge them. Every Spanish colony on the South American coast was under threat from Francis Drake, who robbed them of their treasures. 

When the boat was near full, he set off to return to England this journey took 3 years to cross the Pacific. He not only brought back a rich supply of treasures and spices from around the globe, but he was the first Englishman to have circumnavigated the world. Thus he became a true hero to the nation.

Not settled with being on land, he would sail the seas again some five years later. Yet more treasures were obtained from the Spanish and supplies were brought to his good friend Sir Walter Raleigh, who had made an English settlement on Roanoke Island.

Perhaps largely to do with Drake's ambition of depleting the Spanish of their treasures, war between England and Spain was inevitable. In 1587, ordered again by Queen Elizabeth, Drake headed to the port of Cadiz on a surprise attack on the Spanish, resulting in thirty sabotaged Spanish ships.

A year following this attack, the Spanish King retaliated by sending the Spanish Armada. England had their own fleet, with Drake in command of one wing. A whole week passed where the two fleets never fully came into battle. The Spanish Armada was unprepared and consequently called back to Spain. Unfortunately for them however, a wild storm would take hold and sink many of their fleet.

Ten years later, Drake would sail one more time with his cousin Hawkins to loot more gold from the Spanish. It was a never-ending game for him, but this would be his last play on the seas. Both Drake and Hawkins were no longer fit young sailors and disease would see them both die at sea.

This is an original news article © The Kids Window

One in a series of articles of articles about British history written for children.

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