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Thomas Gerard, Master Henry Dudley, Master Edward Darcie, Master Arthur Gorge, Master Thomas Woodhouse, M. William Harvie, &c. And so it came to passe that the number of the English ships amounted unto an hundreth: which when they were come before Dover, were increased to an hundred and thirty, being notwithstanding of no proportionable bignesse to encounter with the Spaniards, except two or three and twenty of the Queenes greater ships, which onely, by reason of their presence, bred an opinion in the Spaniards minds concerning the power of the English Fleet: the Marriners and Souldiers whereof were esteemed to be twelve thousand.
The foure and twentie of July, when as the Sea was calme, and no winde stirring, the fight was onely betweene the foure great Galleasses and the English ships, which being rowed with Oares, had great vantage of the English ships, which notwithstanding for all that would not be forced to yeelde, but discharged their chaine-shot to cut asunder their Cables and Cordage of the Galleasses, with many other such Stratagems. They were now constrained to send their men on land for a new supply of Gunpowder, whereof they were in great scarcitie, by reason they had so frankly spent the greater part in the former conflicts. The same day, a Counsell being assembled, it was decreed that the English Fleete should be devided into foure squadrons: the principall whereof was committed unto the Lord Admirall: the second to Sir Francis Drake: the third to Captaine Hawkins: the fourth to Captaine Frobisher.
The Spaniards in their sailing observed very diligent and good order, sailing three and foure and sometimes more ships in a ranke, and following close up one after another, and the stronger and greater ships protecting the lesser.
The five and twenty of July, when the Spaniards were come over-against the Isle of Wight, the Lord admirall of England being accompanied with his best ships (namely the Lion, Captaine whereof was the Lord Thomas Howard: The Elizabeth Jonas under the command of Sir Robert Southwell, son in law unto the Lord Admirall: the Beare under the Lord Sheffield, Nephew unto the Lord Admirall: the Victorie under Captaine Barker: and the Galeon Leicester under Captain George Fenner) with great valour and dreadful thunder of shot, encountered the Spanish Admirall, being in the very midst of all his Fleete. Which when the Spaniards perceived, being assisted with his strongest ships, he came forth and entered a terrible combat with the English; for they bestowed each on other the broad sides, and mutually discharged all their Ordnance, being within one hundred or an hundred and twenty yards one of another. At length the Spaniards hoised up their sailes, and againe gathered themselves. up close into the forme of a roundell. In the meane while Captaine Frobisher had engaged himselfe into a most dangerous conflict. Whereupon the Lord Admirall comming to succour him, found that hee had valiantly and discreetly behaved himselfe, and that he had wisely and in good time given over the fight, because that after so great a batterie he had sustained no damage. For which cause the day following, being the sixe and twenty of July, the Lord Admirall rewarded him with the order of Knighthood, together with the Lord Thomas Howard, the Lord Sheffield, Master John Hawkins, and others.
The same day the Lord Admirall received intelligence from New-haven in France, by certaine of his Pinnaces, that all things were quit in France, and that there was no preparation of sending aide unto the Spaniards, which was greatly feared from the Guisian faction, and from the Leaguers: but there was a false rumour spread all about, that the Spaniards had conquered England.
The seven and twentieth of July, the Spaniards about the sun-setting were come over-against Dover, and rode at ancre within the sight of Caleis, intending to hold on for Dunkerk, expecting there to joyne with the Duke of Parma his forces, without which they were able to doe little or nothing. Likewise the English Fleete following up hard upon them, ancred just by them within culvering-shot. And here the Lord Henry Seymer united himselfe unto the Lord Admirall with his fleet of 30. ships which rode before the mouth of Thames.
As the Spanish Navie therefore lay at ancre, the Duke of Medina sent certaine Messengers unto the Duke of Parma, with whom upon that occasion many Noblemen and Gentlemen went to refresh themselves on land: and amongst the rest the Prince of Ascoli, being accounted the Kings base son, and a very proper and towardly yong Gentleman, to his great good went on shoare, who was by so much the more fortunate, in that he had not opportunity to returne on boord the same ship, out of which he was departed, because that in returning home it was cast away upon the Irish coast, with all the persons contained therein. The Duke of Parma being advertised of the Spanish Fleetes arrivall upon the coast of England, made all the haste hee could to be present himselfe in this expedition for the performance of his charge: vainely perswading himselfe that now by the meanes of Cardinall Allen, hee should be crowned King of England, and for that cause he had resigned the Government of the LowCountries unto Count Mansfeld the elder. And having made his vowes unto Saint Mary of Hall in Henault (whom he went to visite for his blinde devotions sake) he returned toward Bruges the eight and twenty of July. The next day travelling to Dunkerk, hee heard the thundring Ordnance of either Fleete: and the same evening being come to Dixmud, hee was given to understand the hard successe of the Spanish Fleete.
Upon tuesday, which was the 30. of July, about high noone, he came to Dunkerk, when as all the Spanish Fleete was now passed by: neither durst any of his ships in the meane space come forth to assist the said Spanish Fleet for feare of five and thirty warlike ships of Holland and Zeland, which there kept watch and ward under the conduct of the Admirall Justin of Nassau. The foresaid five and thirty ships were furnished with most cunning Mariners and old expert Souldiers, amongst the which were twelve hundred Muketeers, whom the States had chosen out of all their Garrisons, and whom they knew to have beene heretofore experienced in Sea-fights. This Navie was given especially in charge not to suffer any ship to come out of the Haven, nor to permit any Zabraes, Pataches or other small vessels of the Spanish Fleete (which were more likely to aide the Dunkerkers) to enter thereinto, for the greater ships were not to be feared by reason of the shallow Sea in that place. Howbeit the Prince of Parma his forces being as yet unready, were not come on boord his ships, onely the English Fugitives, being seven hundred in number, under the conduct of Sir William Stanley, came in fit time to have beene embarked, because they hoped to give the first assault against England. The residue shewed themselves
unwilling and loath to depart, because they saw but a few Marriners, who were by constraint drawne into this expedition, and also because they had very bare provision of Bread, Drinke, and other necessary victuals. Moreover, the ships of Holland and Zeland stood continually in their sight, threatning shot and Powder, and many inconveniences unto them: for feare of which ships, the Mariners and Sea-men secretly withdrew themselves both day and night, least that the Duke of Parma his Souldiers should compell them by maine force to goe on boord, and to breake through the Hollanders Fleete, which all of them judged to be impossible, by reason of the straightnesse of the Haven.
But it seemeth that the Duke of Parma and the Spaniards grounded upon a vaine and presumptuous expectation, that all the ships of England and of the LowCountries would at the first sight of the Spanish and Dunkerk Navie have betaken themselves to flight, yeelding them Sea-roome, and endevouring onely to defend themselves, their havens, and Sea-coasts from invasion. Wherefore their intent and purpose was, that the Duke of Parma in his small and flat-bottomed ships, should, as it were under the shadow and wings of the Spanish Fleete, convey over all his troupes, armour, and warlike provision, and with their forces so united, should invade England; or while the English Fleete were busied in fight against the Spanish, should enter upon any part of the coast, which he thought to be most convenient. Which invasion (as the Captives afterward confessed) the Duke of Parma thought first to have attempted by the River of Thames; upon the bankes whereof having at his first arrivall landed twenty or thirty thousand of his principall Souldiers, he supposed that he might easily have won