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A woodcut by Pyle, ornately figured border, showing an Elizabethan cavalier with ruff, pointed beard, and hose aboard a ship filled with holes and surrounded by smoke


A Report of the truth concerning
the last sea-fight
of the Revenge.


Modernized by S. Rhoads, with Notes

[The modernization of the document is limited to spelling, including current Americanized spelling of words, proper names, and some minor changes, i.e. hath to has, unto to to, adding the odd -ly, or of, or who, etc., to preserve the sense for us today of what Raleigh wrote then. The rest is as in the original -- which follows this version on the next page, so you can see for yourself.

The battle took place in 1591. Sir Walter’s report became known that same year, according to Chambers’s Cyclopædia of English Literature. The famous battle of the English against the Spanish Armada occurred in 1588.

The Tennyson poem, The Revenge, a Ballad of the Fleet, about this event is on Ben Simpson's site here.

Two interesting summaries of the historical setting, with less pro-British bias than usual, are found in the entry of The Catholic Encyclopedia online here and on Wikipedia here.

Another account, by Jan Huyghen Van Linschoten, a Dutchman, is here.

The text is from The Last Fight of the Revenge At Sea by Sir Walter Raleigh, Houghton, Mifflin and Co.; New York; 1902.]

A Report of the truth


ornate manuscript letter B ECAUSE the rumours are diversely spread, as well in England as in the low countries, and elsewhere, of this late encounter between Her Majesty's ships and the Armada of Spain; and that the Spaniards according to their usual manner, fill the world with their vainglorious vaunts, making great appearance of victories: when on the contrary, they themselves are most commonly and shamefully beaten and dishonored; thereby hoping to possess the ignorant multitude by anticipating and forerunning false reports: It is agreeable with all good reason, for manifestation of the truth to overcome falsehood and untruth; that the beginning, continuance and success of this late honorable encounter of Sir Richard Grenville, and other of Her Majesty's Captains, with the Armada of Spain; should be truly set down and published without partiality or false imaginations. 2 And it is no marvel that the Spaniard should seek by false and slanderous pamphlets, advisos* and letters, to cover their own loss, and to derogate from others their due honors, especially in this fight being performed far off; seeing they were not ashamed in the year 1588, when their purpose was the invasion of this land, to publish in sundry languages in print, great victories in words, which they pleaded to have obtained against this Realm, and spread the same in a most false sort over all parts of France, Italy, and elsewhere. When shortly after it was happily manifested in very deed to all Nations, how their Navy which they termed invincible, consisting of 240 sail of ships, not only of their own kingdom, but strengthened with the greatest Argosies, Portugal carracks, Florentines and huge Hulks of other countries: were by thirty of her Majesty’s own ships of war, and a few of our own Merchants, by the wise, valiant, and most advantageous conduction of the Lord Charles Howard, High Admiral of England, beaten and shuffled together, even from the Lizard in Cornwall: first to Portland, where they shamefully left Don Pedro de Valdez, with his mighty ship: from Portland to Calais, where they lost Hugo de Moncado, with the Galleasse of which he was Captain, and from Calais, driven with squibs from their anchors: were chased out of the sight of England, round about Scotland and Ireland. Where for the sympathy of their barbarous religion, hoping to find succour and assistance: a great part of them were crushed against the rocks, and those others that landed, being very many in number, were, notwithstanding, broken, slain, and taken, and so sent from village to village coupled in halters to be shipped into England. Where Her Majesty 3 of her princely and invincible disposition, disdaining to put them to death, and scorning either to retain or entertain them: they were all sent back again to their countries, to witness and recount the worthy achievements of their invincible and dreadful Navy. Of which the number of soldiers, the fearful burthen of their ships, the commanders' names of every squadron, with all other of their magazines of provision, were put in print, as an Army and Navy irresistible, and disdaining prevention. Which with all so great and terrible an ostentation, they did not in all their sailing round about England, so much as sink or take one ship, bark, pinnace, or cockboat of ours: or ever burnt so much as one sheep-cote of this land. When as, on the contrary, Sir Francis Drake, with only 800 soldiers not long before, landed in their Indies, and forced Santiago, Santo Domingo, Cartagena, and the Forts of Florida.

And after that, Sir John Norris marched from Peniche in Portugal, with a handful of soldiers, to the gates of Lisbon, being above 40 English miles. Where the Earl of Essex himself and other valiant Gentlemen, braved the city of Lisbon, encamped at the very gates; from whence after many days abode, finding neither promised party, nor provision to barter: made retreat by land, in despite of all their Garrisons, both of horse and foot. In this sort I have a little digressed from my first purpose, only by the necessary comparison of theirs and our actions: the one covetous of honor without vaunt or ostentation; the other so greedy to purchase the opinion of their own affairs, and by false rumors to resist the blasts of their own dishonors, as they will not only not blush to spread all manner of untruths: but even for the least advantage, 4 be it but for the taking of one poor adventurer of the English, will celebrate the victory with bonfires in every town, always spending more in faggots, than the purchase was worth what they obtained. When as we never yet thought it worth the consumption of two billets, when we have taken eight or ten of their Indian ships at one time, and twenty of the Brazil fleet. Such is the difference between true valor, and ostentation: and between honorable actions, and frivolous vainglorious vaunts. But now to return to my first purpose.

The Lord Thomas Howard, with six of Her Majesty's ships, six victualers of London, the bark Raleigh, and two or three pinnaces riding at anchor near to Flores, one of the Westerly Islands of the Azores, the last of August in the afternoon, had intelligence by one Captain Middleton, of the approach of the Spanish Armada. This Middleton, being a very good Sailor, had kept them company three days before, to good purpose: both to discover more about their forces, as also to give advice to my Lord Thomas of their approach. He had no sooner delivered the news but the Fleet was in sight: many of our ships companies were on shore in the Island; some providing ballast for their ships; others filling of water and refreshing themselves from the land with such things as they could either for money, or by force, recover. By reason whereof our ships being all pestered and romaging** everything out of order, and very light for want of ballast. And that which was most to our disadvantage, the one half part of the men of every ship sick, and utterly unserviceable. For in the Revenge there were ninety diseased: in the Bonaventure, not so many in health as could handle her mainsail. For had not twenty men been taken out 5 of a bark of Sir George Carey’s, his being commanded to be sunk, and those appointed to her, she hardly would have ever recovered England. The rest for the most part, were in little better state. The names of Her Majesty's ships were these as follows: the Defiance, which was Admiral, the Revenge Viceadmiral, the Bonaventure commanded by Captain Crosse, the Lion by George Fenner, the Foresight by M. Thomas Vavasour, and the Crane by Duffield. The Foresight and the Crane being but small ships; only the others were of the middle size; the rest, besid[e]s the bark Raleigh, commanded by Captain Thin, were victualers, and of small force or none. The Spanish fleet having shrouded their approach by reason of the Island; were now so soon at hand, that our ships had scarce time to weigh their anchors, but some of them were driven to let slip their Cables, and set sail. Sir Richard Grenville was the last weighed, to recover the men that were upon the Island, which otherwise had been lost. The Lord Thomas with the rest very hardly recovered the wind, which Sir Richard Grenville, not being able to do, was persuaded by the master and others to cut his mainsail, and cast about, and to trust to the sailing of his ship: for the squadron of Seville were on his weather bow. But Sir Richard utterly refused to turn from the enemy, alleging that he would rather chose to die, then to dishonor himself, his country, and Her Majesty's ship, persuading his company that he would pass through the two Squadrons, in despite of them: and force those of Seville to give him way. This he performed upon diverse of the foremost, who as the Mariners term it, sprang their luffe, and fell under the lee of the Revenge. But the other course might have been the better, and might right well have 6 been the answer in so great an impossibility of prevailing. Notwithstanding, out of the greatness of his mind, he could not be persuaded. In the meanwhile as he attended those which were nearest him, the great San Philip being in the wind of him, and coming towards him, becalmed his sails in such sort, as the ship could neither weigh nor feel the helm: so huge and high carged was the Spanish ship, being of a thousand and five hundred tons. Who, after, laid the Revenge aboard. When he was thus bereft of his sails, the ships that were under his lee luffing up, also laid him aboard: of which the next was the Admiral of the Biscaynes, a very mighty and puissant ship commanded by Bretendona. The said Philip carried three tiers of ordinance on a side, and eleven pieces in every tier. She shot eight forth, right out of her chase¥, besides those of her stern ports.

After the Revenge was entangled with this Philip, four others boarded her; two on her larboard, and two on her starboard. The fight thus beginning at three of the clock in the afternoon, continued very terrible all that evening. But the great San Philip having received§ the lower tier of the Revenge, discharged with crossbar-shot, shifted herself with all diligence from her sides, utterly misliking her first entertainment. Some say that the ship foundered, but we cannot report it for truth, unless we are assured of it. The Spanish ships were filled with companies of soldiers, in some two hundred besides the Mariners; in some five, in others eight hundred. In ours there were none at all, beside the Mariners, but the servants of the commanders and some few voluntary Gentlemen only. After many interchanged volleys of great ordinance and small shot, the Spaniards deliberated to 7 enter the Revenge, and made diverse attempts, hoping to force her by the multitudes of their armed soldiers and Musketeers, but were still repulsed again and again, and at all times beaten back, into their own ships, or into the seas. In the beginning of the fight, the George Noble of London, having received some shot thrown her by the Armados, fell under the lee of the Revenge, and asked Sir Richard what he would command him, being but one of the victualers and of small force: Sir Richard bade him to save himself, and leave him to his fortune. After the fight had thus without intermission, continued while the day lasted and some hours of the night, many of our men were slain and hurt, and one of the great galleons of the Armada, and the Admiral of the Hulks both sunk, and in many other of the Spanish ships great slaughter was made. Some write that Sir Richard was very dangerously hurt almost in the beginning of the fight, and lay speechless for a time before he recovered. But two of the Revenge’s own company, brought home in a ship of Lime from the Islands, examined by some of the Lords, and others: affirmed that he was never so wounded as that he forsook the upper deck, till an hour before midnight; and then being shot into the body with a musket as he was addressing, was again shot into the head, and, withal his Surgeon could do, wounded to death. This agrees also with an examination taken by Sir Frances Godolphin, of 4 other Mariners of the same ship being returned, which examination, the said Sir Frances sent unto Master William Killigrew, of Her Majesty's Privy Chamber.

But to return to the fight, the Spanish ships which attempted to board the Revenge, as they were wounded and beaten of, so always others came in their places, she 8 having never less then two mighty Galleons by her sides, and aboard her. So that before the morning, from three of the clock the day before, there had been fifteen several Armados who had assailed her; and all so ill approved their entertainment, as they were by the break of day, were far more willing to hearken to a composition, than hastily to make any more assaults or entries. But as the day increased, so our men decreased: and as the light grew more and more, by so much more grew our discomforts. For none appeared in sight but enemies, saving one small ship called the Pilgrim, commanded by Jacob Whiddon, who hovered all night to see the success: but in the morning bearing with the Revenge, was hunted like a hare amongst many ravenous hounds, but escaped.

All the powder of the Revenge to the last barrel was now spent, all her pikes broken, forty of her best men slain, and the most part of the rest hurt. In the beginning of the fight she had but one hundred free from sickness, and fourscore and ten sick, laid in hold upon the ballast. A small troop to man such a ship, and a weak Garrison to resist so mighty an Army. By those hundred all was sustained, the volleys, boardings, and enterings of fifteen ships of war, beside those which beat her at large. On the contrary, the Spanish were always supplied with soldiers brought from every squadron: all manner of arms and powder at will. To ours there remained no comfort at all, no hope, no supply either of ships, men, or weapons; the masts all beaten over board, all her tackle cut asunder, her upper work altogether razed, and in effect, she was evened with the water, only the very foundation or bottom of a ship, nothing being left over head either for flight or defence. Sir Richard finding himself 9 in this distress, and unable any longer to make resistance, having endured in this fifteen hours fight, the assault of fifteen several Armadoes, all by turns aboard him, and by estimation eight hundred shot of great artillery, besides many assaults and entries. And that he himself and the ship must needs be possessed by the enemy, who were now all cast in a ring round about him; The Revenge not able to move one way or other, but as she was moved with the waves and billow of the sea: commanded the Master Gunner, whom he knew to be a most resolute man, to split and sink the ship; that thereby nothing might remain of glory or victory to the Spaniards: seeing in so many hours fight, and with so great a Navy they were not able to take her, having had fifteen hours time, fifteen thousand men, and fifty and three sail of men of war to perform it withal. And persuaded the company, or as many as he could induce, to yield themselves unto God, and to the mercy of none else; but as they had, like valiant resolute men, repulsed so many enemies, they should not now shorten the honor of their nation, by prolonging their own lives for a few hours, or a few days. The Mster Gunner readily condescended and diverse others; but the Captain and the master were of another opinion, and besought Sir Richard to have care of them: alleging that the Spaniard would be as ready to entertain a composition, as they were willing to offer the same: and that there being diverse sufficient and valiant men yet living, and whose wounds were not mortal, they might do their country and prince acceptable service hereafter. And (that where Sir Richard had alleged that the Spaniards should never glory to have taken one ship of Her Majesty's, seeing 10 that they had so long and so notably defended themselves) they answered, that the ship had six foot water in hold, three shot under water which were so weakly stopped, that with the first working of the sea, she must needs sink, and was besides so crushed and bruised, as she could never be removed out of the place.

And as the matter was thus in dispute, and Sir Richard refusing to hearken to any of those reasons: the master of the Revenge (while the Captain won to him the greater party) was conveyed aboard the General to Don Alonso Bazan. Who finding none over hasty to enter the Revenge again, doubting that at the least Sir Richard would have blown them up and himself, and perceiving by the report of the master of the Revenge his dangerous disposition: yielded that all their lives should be saved, the company sent for England, and the better sort to pay such reasonable ransom as their estate would bear, and in the meantime to be free from Galley or imprisonment. To this he much rather condescended to do: as well, as I have said, for fear of further loss and mischief to themselves, as also for the desire he had to recover Sir Richard Grenville; whom for his notable valor he seemed greatly to honor and admire.

When this answer was returned, and that safety of life was promised, the common sort being now at the end of their peril, the most drew back from Sir Richard and the Master Gunner, it being no hard matter to dissuade men from death to life. The Master Gunner finding himself and Sir Richard thus prevented and mastered by the greater number, would have slain himself with a sword, had he not been by force withheld and locked into his cabin. Then the General sent many boats 11 aboard the Revenge, and diverse of our men fearing Sir Richard's disposition, stole away aboard the General and other ships. Sir Richard thus overmatched, was sent to by Alonso Bazan to remove out of the Revenge, the ship being marvelously unsavory, filled with blood and bodies of dead, and wounded men like a slaughterhouse. Sir Richard answered that the might do with his body what he wished, for he esteemed it not, and as he was carried out of the ship he swooned, and reviving again desired the company to pray for him. The General used Sir Richard with all humanity, and left nothing unattempted that tended to his recovery, highly commending his valour and worthiness, and greatly bewailing the danger which he was in, being to them a rare spectacle, and a resolution seldom known, to see one ship turn toward so many enemies, to endure the charge and boarding of so many huge Armados, and to resist and repel the assaults and entries of so many soldiers. All which and more, is confirmed by a Spanish Captain of the same Armada, and a present actor in the fight, who being severed from the rest in a storm, was by the Lion of London, a small ship, taken, and is now prisoner in London.

The General commander of the Armada, was Don Alonso Bazan, brother to the Marquess of Santa Cruz. The Admiral of the Biscayne squadron, was Bretendona. Of the squadron of Seville, Marcos of Arumburu. The hulks and flyboats were commanded by Luis Coutinho. There were slain and drowned in this fight, well near two thousand of the enemies, and two special commanders Don Luis de San Juan, and Don George de Prunaria de Mallaga, as the Spanish Captain 12 confesses, besides diverse others of special account, whereof as yet report is not made.

The Admiral of the Hulks and the Ascension of Seville, were both sunk by the side of the Revenge; one other recovered the rode of Saint Michels, and sunk also there; a fourth ran herself with the shore to save her men. Sir Richard died as it is said, the second or third day aboard the General, and was by them greatly bewailed. What became of his body, whether it was buried in the sea or on the land we know not: the comfort that remains to his friends is, that he has ended his life honorably in respect of the reputation won to his nation and country, and of the same to his posterity, and that, being dead, he has not outlived his own honor.

For the rest of her Majesty’s ships that entered not so far into the fight as the Revenge, the reasons and causes were these. There were of them but six in all, whereof two were but small ships; the Revenge engaged past recovery: The Island of Flores was on the side, 53 sail of the Spanish, divided into squadrons on the other, all filled as full with soldiers as they could contain. Almost the one half of our men sick and not able to serve: the ships grown foul, unroomaged, and scarcely able to bear any sail for want of ballast, having been six months at the sea before. If all the rest had entered, all had been lost. For the very hugeness of the Spanish fleet, if no other violence had been offered, would have crushed them between them into shivers. Of which the dishonor and loss to the Queen would have been far greater than the spoil or harm that the enemy could in any way have received. Notwithstanding, it is very true, that the Lord Thomas would 13 have entered between the squadrons, but the rest would not condescend; and the master of his own ship offered to leap into the sea, rather than to conduct himself so that her majesty's ship and the rest were to be a prey to the enemy, where there was no hope nor possibility either of defence or victory. Which also in my opinion had ill sorted or answered to the discretion and trust of a General, to commit himself and his charge to an assured destruction, without hope or any likelihood of prevailing: thereby to diminish the strength of Her Majesty's Navy, and to enrich the pride and glory of the enemy. The Foresight of the Queen's, commanded by M. Th. Vavasour, performed a very great fight, and stayed two hours as near the Revenge as the weather would permit him, not forsaking the fight, till he was like to be encompassed by the squadrons, and with great difficulty cleared himself. The rest gave divers volleys of shot, and entered as far as the place permitted and their own necessities, to keep the weather gauge of the enemy, until they were parted by night. A few days after the fight was ended, and the English prisoners were dispersed into the Spanish and Indies ships, there arose so great a storm from the West and Northwest that all the fleet was dispersed, as well the Indian fleet which were then come to them, as the rest of the Armada that attended their arrival, of which 14 sail together with the Revenge, and in her 200 Spaniards, were cast away upon the Isle of St. Michaels. So it pleased them to honor the burial of that renowned ship the Revenge, suffering her to perish alone, for the great honor she achieved in her life time. On the rest of the Islands there were cast away in this storm, 15 or 16 more of the ships of war; and of a hundred and odd sail 14 of the Indies fleet, expected this year in Spain, what in this tempest, and what before in the bay of Mexico, and about the Bermudas there were 70 odd consumed and lost, with those taken by our ships of London, besides one very rich Indian ship, which set herself on fire, being boarded by the Pilgrim, and five others taken by master Wats his ships of London, between the Havana and Cape S. Antonio. The 4 of this month of November, we received letters from the Tercera, affirming that there are 3000 bodies of men remaining in that Island saved out of the perished ships: and that by the Spaniards’ own confession, there are 10000 cast away in this storm, besides those that are perished between the Islands and the main. Thus it has pleased God to fight for us, and to defend the justice of our cause, against the ambitious and bloody pretenses of the Spaniard, who seeking to devour all nations, are themselves devoured. A manifest testimony how unjust and displeasing, their attempts are in the sight of God, who has pleased to witness by the success of their affairs, his mislike of their bloody and injurious designs, purposed and practised against all Christian Princes, over whom they seek unlawful and ungodly rule and Empire.

One day or two before this wrack happened to the Spanish fleet, when as some of our prisoners desired to be set on shore upon the Islands, hoping to be from there transported into England, which liberty was formerly by the General promised: One Maurice FitzJohn, son of old John of Desmond a notable traitor, cousin-german to the late Earl of Desmond, was sent to the English from ship to ship, to persuade them to serve the King of Spain. The arguments he used to induce them, were these. The 15 increase of pay which he promised to be trebled; advancement to the better sort: and the exercise of the true Catholic religion, and safety of their souls to all. For the first, even the beggarly and unnatural behaviour of those English and Irish rebels, that served the King in that present action, was sufficient to answer that first argument of rich pay. For so poor and beggarly were they, that for want of apparel they stripped their poor countrymen prisoners out of their ragged garments, worn to nothing by six months service, and spared not to despoil them even of their bloody shirts, from their wounded bodies, and the very shoes from their feet. A notable testimony of their rich entertainment and great wages. The second reason was hope of advancement if they served well, and would continue faithful to the King. But what man can be so blockishly ignorant ever to expect place or honor from a foreign king, having no argument or persuasion other than his own disloyalty; to be unnatural to his own country that bred him; to his parents that begat him, and rebellious to his true prince, to whose obedience he is bound by others, by nature, by religion. No, they are only assured to be employed in all desperate enterprises, to be held in scorn and disdain forever among those whom they serve. And that if ever a traitor was either trusted or advanced I have never yet read of it, neither can I at this time remember any example. And no man could have less become the place of an Orator for such a purpose, then this Maurice of Desmond. For the Earl his cousin being one of the greatest subjects in that kingdom of Ireland, having almost whole countries in his possession; so many goodly manners, castles, and Lordships; the Count Palatine of Kerry, five hundred 16 gentlemen of his own name and family to follow him, besides others. All which he possessed in peace for three or four hundred years: was in less then three years after his adhering to the Spaniards and rebellion, beaten from all his holdings, not so many as ten gentlemen of his name left living, himself taken and beheaded by a soldier of his own nation, and his land given by a Parliament to Her Majesty, and possessed by the English. His other cousin, Sir John of Desmond, was taken by M. John Zouch, and his body hanged over the gates of his native city to be devoured by ravens: the third brother of Sir James hanged, drawn, and quartered in the same place, If he had withal vaunted of this success of his own house, no doubt the argument would have moved much, and wrought great effect; which because he for that present forgot, I thought it good to remember in his behalf. For matters of religion it would require a particular volume, if I should set down how irreligiously they cover their greedy and ambitious pretences, with that veil of piety. But sure I am, that there is no kingdom or commonwealth in all Europe, but if they are Reformed, they then invade it for religion's sake: if it be, as they term Catholic, they pretend title; as if the Kings of Castile were the natural heirs of all the world: and so between both, no kingdom is unsought. Where they dare not with their own forces to invade, they basely entertain the traitors and vagabonds of all nations; seeking by those and by their runnagate Jesuits to win parts, and have by that means ruined many Noble houses and others in this land, and have extinguished both their lives and families. What good, honor, or fortune ever man yet by them achieved, is yet unheard of, or unwritten. And if our English 17 Papists do but look into Portugal, against whom they have no pretence of religion, how the Nobility are put to death, imprisoned, their rich men made a pray, and all sorts of people made captives; they shall find that the obedience even of the Turk is easy and a liberty, in respect of the slavery and tyranny of Spain. What they have done in Sicily, in Naples, Milan, and in the low countries; who has there been spared for religion at all? And it comes to my remembrance of a certain Burger of Antwerp, whose house being entered by a company of Spanish soldiers, when they first sacked the City, he besought them to spare him and his goods, being a good Catholic, and one of their own party and faction. The Spaniards answered, that they knew him to be of a good conscience for himself, but his money, plate, jewels, and goods were all heretical, and therefore good prize. So they abused and tormented the foolish Fleming, who hoped that an Agnus Dei had been a sufficient target against all forces of that holy and charitable nation. Neither have they at any time, as they protest, invaded the kingdoms of the Indies and Peru, and elsewhere, only led there, rather than reduce the people to Christianity, but for either gold or empire. When as in one only Island called Hispaniola, they have wasted thirty hundred thousand of the natural people, besides many millions else in other places of the Indies: a poor and harmless people created of God, and might have been won to his knowledge, as many of them were, and almost as many more were persuaded thereunto. The Story whereof is at large written by a Bishop of their own nation called Bartholome de las Casas, and translated into English and many other languages, entitled The Spanish Cruelties. 18 Who would therefore repose trust in such a nation of ravenous strangers, and especially in those Spaniards which more greedily thirst after English blood, than after the lives of any other people of Europe; for the many overthrows and dishonors they have received at our hands, whose weakness we have discovered to the world, and whose forces at home, abroad, in Europe, in India, by sea and land; we have even with handfuls of men and ships, overthrown and dishonored. Let not therefore any English man of any religion whatsoever, have any other opinion of the Spaniards, but that those whom he seeks to win of our nation, he esteems base and traitorous, unworthy persons, or inconstant fools: and that he uses his pretence of religion, for no other purpose, but to bewitch us from the obedience of our natural prince; thereby hoping in time to bring us to slavery and subjection, and then none shall be to them so odious, and disdained as the traitors themselves, who have sold their country to a stranger, and forsaken their faith and obedience contrary to nature or religion; and contrary to that humane and general honor, not only of Christians, but of heathen and irreligious nations, who have always sustained any labor whatsoever, and embraced even death itself, for their country, prince or common-wealth. To conclude, it has ever to this day pleased God, to prosper and defend Her Majesty, to break the purposes of malicious enemies, of forsworn traitors, and of unjust practises and invasions. She has ever been honored of the worthiest Kings, served by faithful subjects, and shall by the favour of God, resist, repel, and confound all attempts whatsoever against her sacred Person or kingdom. In the meantime, let the Spaniard and traitor 19 vaunt of their success; and we Her true and obedient vassals guided by the shining light of Her virtues, shall always love Her, serve Her, and obey Her to the end of our lives.






Printers emblem, with a nude youth playing a flute, leaning against a stylized upright dolphin and the motto Tout Bien ou Rien


*  advisoes -- dispatches per T. Browne, called avisoes in Italian.

  The Lizard was a headland on the English shore, where the Armada was first sighted by the British.

**  romaging, unroomaged -- from the freedictionary.com we find under rummage (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Rummage):

"[From earlier romage, act of packing cargo, from French arrumage, from Old French, from arumer, to stow, from Old Proven?al arumar : a-, to (from Latin ad-; see ad-) + perhaps run, ship's hold (of Germanic origin; see reu- in Indo-European roots).]"

And from Bibliomania's online text of the 1913 Webster's Dictionary (http://www.bibliomania.com/2/3/257/frameset.html)-- we have a definition for roomage.

"(Room"age) n. [From Room. CF. Rummage.] Space; place; room. [Obs.] Sir H. Wotton."

But I assume unroomaged means the decks and holds weren't cleared and everything stowed for safely bounding along on the main.

The difference in spelling in both usages is a common problem in old texts. Spelling was creative, to say the least, and there was no standard either, even in the same document. Either that or proofreaders were even worse than they are now in those days.

The term roomage was nautical apparently, because (thanks to Google and manybooks.net) I found a contemporary usage in Hakluyt's Voyages, p. 410-11.

Here roomage seems to be more like rummage, they took all the goods they wanted off her before sending her back. Or again, maybe it means they had to reorganize her decks after the combat.

"The noise of the artillery on both sides being heard, immediatly they drew to their fleet; where after a reasonable hot fight, the ship was entred and mastered, which they found freighted with all sorts of small yron-worke, as horse shoes, nailes, plough-shares, yron barres, spikes, boults, locks, gimbols, and such like, valued by vs at 6000 or 7000 li. but woorth to them treble the value. This Biscain was sailing towards S. Lucar, there to take in some further prouision for the West India. This ship being first roomaged, and after sent for England, our fleet coasted along towards the Southcape of S. Vincent, and by the way about the Rocke neere Lisbon, Sir Iohn Burrough in the Robucke spying a saile a farre off, gaue her present chase; which being a flieboat and of good saile, drew him farre Southwards before he could fetch her; but at last she came vnder his lee and strooke saile."

  luff -- Again thanks to freedictionary.com we have:


1. a. The act of sailing closer into the wind.

b. The forward side of a fore-and-aft sail.

2. Archaic The fullest part of the bow of a ship.

v. luffed, luff·ing, luffs


1. To steer a sailing vessel closer into the wind, especially with the sails flapping.

2. To flap while losing wind. Used of a sail. v.tr.

1. To sail (a vessel, such as a yacht) closer into the wind during a race so as to prevent an opponent's craft from passing on the windward side.

2. To raise or lower (the boom of a crane or derrick).

[Middle English lof, spar holding out the windward tack of a square sail, from Old French, probably of Germanic origin.]"

§  receyued -- a more troublesome word. It can be 'received' but that may not be the correct word, nor does it make good sense, in this sentence at least. I will ask some other people, finding not much help on the net. Lots of online texts use the word but they do not put up a glossary. The usual meaning of received is meant at times in the old texts, but in other sentences that doesn't seem right, as it doesn't seem right here in this sentence.

  carged -- The most troublesome word. Cannot find the word at all. Except on websites that misspell charge or cargo. Maybe Sir Walter or his printer, or the printers in this modern edition, misspelled this and it should be 'charged' here as well, i. e. highly charged with weapons, ordinance (cannon), and ammunition, etc.

Proofreading is a terrible job. (I may have expressed that view before, a few thousand times).

About the above three terms: Thanks to Tom Smith, who posted on the Fan Mail blog, I have added the following information from him:

"Just read through Raleighs "Report on the Last Sea Fight of the Revenge", and I have a few comments for the footnotes.

The term "high charged" refers to the high superstructures of Spanish ships of the time, as opposed to the lower "race built" English vessels. The high sides and castle structures at the ends gave the soldiers the advantage of high ground in a boarding fight. They also tended to catch the wind and make the ships more difficult to control and maneuver. The English kept superstructures low, resulting in less windage and a more nimble vessel that could hopefully keep the foe at a distance.

"received" means to be shot at. "having received the lower tier of Revenge..." means that Revenge has shot her lower tier of guns at the other vessel. The target vessel has received the shot in the same sense that we might say a wounded man has "caught" or "stopped" a bullet today.

"her chase" - I am uncertain what this may mean, but think it refers to the bow or stern of the vessel. The majority of guns were mounted along the sides of a ship, but it was cutomary to have two or so mounted at the bow or stern, which were called "bow chasers" or "stern chasers", possibly because they could be used when chasing or being chased by another ship."

¥  chase -- www.thefreedictionary.com/chase has for a variant form of this word, which may apply here:



a. A groove cut in an object; a slot: the chase for the quarrel on a crossbow.

b. A trench or channel for drainpipes or wiring.

2. The part of a gun in front of the trunnions.

3. The cavity of a mold.

tr.v. chased, chasᩮg, chasᥳ

1. To groove; indent.

2. To cut (the thread of a screw.

3. To decorate (metal) by engraving or embossing.

[Possibly from obsolete French chas, groove, enclosure, from Old French, from Latin capsa, box. V., variant of enchase.]

Sir George Carey owned ships, he was not the captain of this one that was sunk. He also patronized writers, see this letter of his to his wife about Thomas Nash's imprisonment and his plan to help bail him out here.

This same so ‘noble’ Sir Thomas Howard later was accused of embezzlement, found guilty and fined, and told to restore the embezzled money. Not a big surprise. He, like Maurice of Desmond mentioned above, had a very spotty family tree. Not that ethics and morality are hereditary but the lack of crucial ones seemed to be practiced by the prevailing role models in these houses. See the entry here.

Struggling with Portuguese, extracted some more details from this site:

Middleton's ship was a pinnace, called Moonshine.


Copyright © 2005 by Susan Rhoads


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