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have entred the River of Thames, & thereupon to have passed with small ships up to London, supposing that they might easily win that rich and flourishing Citie, being but meanely fortified and inhabited with Citizens not accustomed to the wars, who durst not withstand their first encounter, hoping moreover to finde many rebels against her Majestie, and Popish Catholikes, or some favourers of the Scottish Queene (not long before beheaded) who might be instruments of sedition.
Thus often advertising the Duke of Parma of their approach, the 20. of July they passed by Plimmouth, which the English pursuing and getting the winde of them, gave them the chase and the encounter, and so both Fleetes frankly exchanged their Bullets.
The day following, which was the 21. of July, the English Ships approached within Musket shot of the Spanish: at what time the Lord Charles Howard most hotly and valiantly discharged his Ordnance upon the Spanish Viceadmirall. The Spaniards then well perceiving the nimblenesse of the English ships in discharging upon the enemy on all sides, gathered themselves close into the forme of an halfe Moone, and slackned their sailes, least they should outgoe any of their company.
And while they were proceeding on in this manner, one of their great Galliasses was so furiously battered with shot, that the whole Navie was faine to come up rounder together for the safegard thereof: whereby it came to passe that the principall Galleon of Sivill (wherein Don Pedro de Valdez, Vasques de Silva, Alonzo de Sayas, and other Noble men were embarqued) falling foule of another ship, had her fore-most broken, and by that meanes was not able to keepe way with the Spanish Fleete, neither would the said Fleete stay to succour it, but left the distressed Galeon behinde. The Lord Admirall of England, when hee saw this Ship of Valdez, and thought she had beene voide of Marriners and Souldiers, taking with him as many ships as he could, passed by it, that hee might not looes sight of the Spanish Fleete that night. For Sir Francis Drake (who was notwithstanding appointed to beare out his Lanterne that night) was giving of chase unto five great Hulkes which had separated themselves from the Spanish Fleete: but finding them to be Easterlings, hee dismissed them. The Lord Admirall all that night following the Spanish Lanterne instead of the English, found himselfe in the morning to be in the midst of his enemies Fleete, but when he perceived it, he clenly conveied himselfe out of that great danger.
The day following, which was the 22. of July, Sir Francis Drake espied Valdez his ship, whereunto he sent for his Pinnace, and being advertised that Valdez himselfe was there, and 450. persons with him, he sent him word that hee should yeelde himself. Valdez for his honours sake caused certaine conditions to be propounded unto Drake: who answered Valdez, that he was not now at leisure to make any long parle, but if he would yeelde himselfe, he should finde him friendly and tractable: howbeit if he had resolved to die in fight, he should prove Drake to be no dastard. Upon which answer, Valdez and his Company understanding that they were fallen into the hands of fortunate Drake, being moved with the renoune and celebritie of his name, with one consent yeelded themselves, and found him very favourable unto them. Then Valdez with forty or fiftie Noblemen and Gentlemen pertaining unto him, came on boord Sir Francis Drakes ship. The residue of his company were carried unto Plimmouth, where they were detained a yeere and an halfe for their ransome.
Valdez comming unto Drake, and humbly kissing his hand, protesting unto him, that he and his had resolved to die in battell, had they not by good fortune fallen into his power, whom they knew to be right curteous and gentle, and whom they had heard by generall report to be most favourable unto his vanquished foe: insomuch, that he said it was to be doubted whether his enemy had more cause to admire and love him for his great, valiant, and prosperous exploits, or to dread him for his singular felicity and wisdome, which ever attended upon him in the wars, and by the which he had attained unto so great honor. With that Drake embraced him, and gave him very honorable entertainment, feeding him at his owne table, and lodging him in his Cabbin. Here Valdez began to recount unto Drake the forces of all the Spanish Fleete, and how foure mighty Gallies were separated by tempest from them: and also how they were determined first to have put into Plimmouth haven, not expecting to be repelled thence by the English ships, which they thought could by no meanes withstand their impregnable forces, perswading themselves that by meanes of their huge Fleete, they were become Lords and commanders of the maine Ocean. For which cause they marveiled much how the English men in their small Ships durst approach within musket shot of the Spaniards mighty wodden Castles, gathering the wind of them, with many other such like attempts. Immediately after, Valdez and his Company (being a man of principall authority in the Spanish Fleet, and being descended of one and the same family with that Valdez, which in the yeere 1574. besieged Leiden in Holland) were sent captives into England. There were in the said ship 55. thousand Duckets in ready monie of the Spanish Kings gold, which the souldiers merrily shared among themselves.
The same day was set on fire one of their greatest ships, being Admirall of the squadron of Guipusco, and being the ship of Michael de Oquendo Vice-admirall of the whole Fleete, which contained great store of Gunpowder, and other warlike provisions. The upper part onely of this ship was burnt, and all the persons therein contained (except a very few) were consumed with fire. And thereupon it was taken by the English, and brought into England, with a number of miserable burnt and scorched Spaniards. Howbeit the Gunpowder (to the great admiration of all men) remained whole and unconsumed.
In the meane season the Lord Admirall of England in his ship, called the Arke-royall, all that night pursued the Spaniards so neere, that in the morning hee was almost left alone in the enemies Fleete, and it was foure of the clocke at afternoone before the residue of the English Fleete could overtake him. At the same time Hugo de Moncada, Gouvernour of the foure Galliasses, made humble suite unto the Duke of Medina that hee might be licenced to encounter the Admirall of England: which liberty the Duke thought not good to permit unto him, because he was loath to exceede the limits of his Commission and charge.
Upon tuesday, which was the 23. of July, the Navy being come over against Portland, the wind began to turne Northerly, insomuch that the Spaniards had a fortunate and fit gale to invade the English. But the Englishmen having lesser and nimbler ships, recovered againc the vantage of the winde from the Spaniards, whereat the Spaniards seemed to be more incensed to fight then before. But when the English feet had continually and without intermission from morning to night beaten and battered them with all their shot both great and small: the Spaniards uniting themselves, gathered their whole Fleete close together into a roundell, so that it was apparant that they ment not as yet to invade others, but onely to defend themselves, & to make haste unto the place prescribed unto them, which was neere unto Dunkerk, that they might joyne forces with the Duke of Parma, who was determined to have proceeded secretly with his small ships under the shadow and protection of the great ones, and so had intended circumspectly to performe the whole expedition.
This was the most furious and bloudy skirmish of all, in which the Lord Admirall of England continued fighting amidst his enemies Fleete. In this conflict there was a certaine great Venetian ship with other small ships surprized and taken by the English.
The English Navy in the meane while increased, whereunto out of all Havens of the Realme resorted ships and men: for they all with one accord came flocking thither as unto a set field, where immortall fame and glory was to be attained, and faithful service to be performed unto their Prince and Countrey. In which number there were many great and honorable personages, as namely, the Earle of Oxford, of Northumberland, of Cumberland, &c. with many Knights and Gentlemen: to wit, Sir Thomas Cecill, Sir Robert Cecill, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir William Hatton, Sir Horatio Palavicini, Sir Henry Brooke, Sir Robert Carew, Sir Charles Blunt; Master Ambrose Willoughbie, Master Henry Nowell, Master