Secret History Armada

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Secret History is a long-running British television documentary series. Shown on Channel 4, the Secret History brandname is still used as a banner title in the UK, but many of the individual documentaries can still be found on US cable channels (like Discovery Times or The History Channel International) without the branding. It can be seen as Channel 4’s answer to the BBC’s Timewatch. Look outs on the English coast have been expecting the Spanish Armada for 3 years and now they’re here. The Spanish called it the Enterprise of England a massive sea born invasion. What happened next has been celebrated by the English ever since. It is one of the ways the English define themselves: it’s pluck in the face of adversity, it’s coolness under fire, it’s effortless superiority, the English David against the Spanish Goliath. That’s the legend but the real Armada story is a country defended by pirates, who through cunning caution and ingenuity managed not loose … just. In 1588 the conflict between Spain and England introduced a completely new kind of naval warfare. For the first time in a battle at sea, sailors would gamble that gunfire alone could deliver victory. At stake was the survival of England as an independent power. On the face of it the fight looked thoroughly unequal. High in the hills above Madrid the Escorial palace was the nerve center of the largest empire in the world. The leading Catholic power in Europe the Spanish monarchy controlled vast territories in the far east, the Americas and Europe. For 20 years the Protestant English had been intruding upon this empire even planning colonies of their own. To it’s ruler Phillip II this was intolerable. They were pirates, they were heretics, they were prosecuters of English Catholics and worst of all they were supporters of rebels. The rebels were the Protestant Dutch who had for 20 years been fighting against their Spanish overlords. In 1585 the English queen Elizabeth declared war in their support. Phillip II was determined to put an end to the English menace for once and all.