| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
ELIZABETH—THE STORY OF HOW ENGLAND WAS SAVED FROM THE SPANIARDS
 PHILIP, King of Spain, who had been married to Mary I.,
wanted, after her death, to marry her sister Elizabeth who
was now Queen of England. But Elizabeth would not marry him,
and that made him very angry. Philip hated the English
people and the Protestant religion, and he made up his mind
to conquer England and punish Elizabeth. He gathered
together a great number of soldiers and sailors and guns and
ships, and made ready to invade England.
Among the many famous Englishmen of this time was a man
called Drake. He had sailed in far-off seas to
newly-discovered countries, and was very bold and daring.
While Philip was busy making ready to invade England, Drake
sailed over to Spain, and boldly entered the harbour where
the Spanish vessels lay. He sank and burned thirty or more
of them, damaged others, and then sailed away again.
"This," he said with a laugh,
"was just singeing the King of Spain's
King Philip was very angry, but he at once set to work to
repair his ships and to build others, and next year was
ready to attack England.
In May 1588 A.D., one hundred and twenty-nine great ships
sailed out from Spain but, hindered by a storm, it
 was many
weeks later before they came in sight of the English coast.
These Spanish ships with their gilded prows and white sails
shining in the sun made a splendid show as they sailed along
in the shape of a crescent seven miles long. King Philip
called his fleet the Invincible Armada. Invincible means,
"which cannot be conquered"; Armada is a Spanish word
Once again, as in the days of the Romans and as in the days
of the Danes, the little green island in the lonely sea was
threatened with conquerors coming in great ships.
The people of England had been slow to believe that there
was any danger from Spain, and the Queen was unwilling to
make preparations. But when at last they saw that the
Spaniards meant to come, the country rose like one man.
Roman Catholics and Protestants forgot their quarrels, and
remembering only that they were Englishmen, worked together
against the common enemy.
The English navy at this time was very small, but gentlemen
and merchants gave money and ships, and soon it was almost
as large as the Spanish navy, although the ships were
Besides these ships and sailors, a great army gathered on
land in order to resist Philip, should he succeed in
reaching England, in spite of the "wooden walls" as the
English war vessels came to be called.
Men young and old flocked to the standard. Very few were
real soldiers, but all of them were eager to fight for their
Queen and for their country. Elizabeth herself reviewed the
army and spoke such brave words that the hopes of the men
who heard her rose high. "I am come among you," she said,
"not for pleasure nor to amuse myself. I am come to live or
die with you in
 battle; to lay down my honour and my life
for my God, for my country and for my people. I know that I
have but the body of a poor, weak woman, but I have the
heart of a King, and of an English King. I think foul scorn
that any Spanish Prince, or any Prince in Europe, should
dare to invade my kingdom. Rather than be so dishonoured I
myself will take up arms. Myself will be your general and
the judge and rewarder of every one of you for your deeds in
the field of battle."
So eagerly did the people work that England was ready before
Spain, and Lord Howard, the chief admiral, sailed out to
meet the enemy. But week after week passed, and as still the
Spaniards did not come, he returned to Plymouth with his
Elizabeth was not fond of spending money. She thought that
it was dreadful waste to keep all these soldiers and sailors
and ships waiting for an enemy who never came, and she told
Lord Howard to pay off his men, and send them to their
homes. But Lord Howard refused to obey, and he with his
captains and his men held their ships in readiness at
Plymouth. Day by day they kept watch, looking always
anxiously out to sea, and spending the long, weary hours as
best they could.
At last, one sunny day in July, when Drake and some of the
other sea captains were playing at bowls, they were
interrupted by a cry, "The Spaniards! the Spaniards!"
game was stopped, all eyes were turned towards the Channel.
Yes, there at last, far out to sea, the proud Spanish
vessels were to be seen. They were distant yet, but a
sailor's eye could see that they were mighty and great
ships, and the number of them was very large. But the brave
English captains were not afraid.
"Come," said Drake, after a few minutes, "there is time to
finish the game and to beat the Spaniards too."
"THERE IS TIME TO FINISH THE GAME AND BEAT THE SPANIARDS TOO," SAID DRAKE.
 So they went back to their play, and when the game was
finished they went down to the harbour, got the ships ready,
and sailed out to meet and fight the Spaniards.
For more than a week the battle lasted, the English always
having the best of it. Their ships were smaller, but for
that very reason they could be moved and turned about more
easily than the great painted and gilded Spanish vessels.
The wind, too, was in favour of the English and against the
Spaniards. In those days, before steam-engines and steamers
had been invented, when ships were still moved by sails, the
wind was of great importance.
Day by day the wind grew fiercer, the waves became white and
wild, till the Spanish ships were driven northward by a
terrible storm. Without pilots, through unknown seas, past
strange islands they were driven. Shattered on unfriendly
rocks, refused the shelter of every port, up to the north of
Scotland and back round the west coast of Ireland they sped. At
last, ruined by shot and shell, torn and battered by wind
and waves, about fifty maimed and broken wrecks, all that
were left of the Invincible Armada, reached Spain. Once
again England was saved.
How the people rejoiced! Bells rang, bonfires blazed, and
every heart was filled with thankfulness. In memory of the
victory, the Queen ordered a medal to be made, and on it, in
Latin, were the words, "God blew with his breath, and they
Although Philip had lost nearly all his ships, he did not
consider that he was beaten, and the war went on until the
death of Elizabeth. But the English people no longer feared
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