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Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I of England allowed and promoted piratical attacks against Spain in times of peace, and moreover helped the Flemish rebels against their legitimate King, Phillip II. In the light of this, she was responsible for the war. Once begun, she understood the magnitude of the opportunity that was being presented to her after the defeat of the Gran Armada, and speedily led England’s general mobilization in order to raise the Counter Armada. She clearly established her objectives, beginning with the most fundamental of all: the destruction of the Gran Armada, that was under repair in Santander. Elizabeth’s greatest mistake was allowing the involvement of private enterprise, and in the hands of Drake and Norris, the disastrous preparation of the fleet. Her men did what they knew how to do best, and undertook a piratical expedition in search of plunder. It made no difference that the expedition was of an unprecedented scale. The Counter Armada was never anythingmore than a piratical enterprise, and its commanders blatantly ignored the Queen’s instructions whenever it suited their purposes. Elizabeth probably should have appointed an aristocrat with close ties to the Crown as leader of the expedition, someone capable of ensuring unity of command and who would not betray the missions’s objectives and lead the expedition to catastrophe.