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Account of operations during Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake's Portugal expedition

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Account of operations during Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake's Portugal expedition

Author
Date
May-June 1589
Medium
Manuscript

In April 1589 Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake set sail from England in command of an expedition raised in retaliation for the Spanish Armada of 1588. The first part of this contemporary account is titled "Advertisementes from the Groyne the 7 Maii 1589" and concerns Norris and Drake's operations at Corunna, Spain. Elizabeth I had stipulated that the primary aim of the expedition was the destruction of Spain's surviving Armada ships located at Santander (Wernham, Expedition of Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake, pp. 82-8; Nolan, Sir John Norreys, pp. 132, 136). Drake and Norris, however, attracted by reports of ships, munitions and supplies being gathered in the region, arrived at Corunna on 24 April (Wernham, Expedition of Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake, pp. 141-2, 144-8). The account relates how, on the night of 25 April, the English took the lower town "within an howre...with the losse of 500 Spaniardes." Their assault on the upper town castle did not meet with success. The second part of the account is titled "Advertisementes from Castcays in the River of Lisbone." It describes the English attempt to free Portugal from Spanish control by taking Lisbon and installing the pretender Dom Antonio on the throne. Sailing from Corunna on 8 May, Norris landed the army at Peniche, Portugal, on 16 May. Norris was to march his army overland to Lisbon, while Drake was to sail with the fleet to the Tagus River where the two forces would reunite to attack Lisbon (Kelsey, Sir Francis Drake, p. 354). The attack was a complete failure. Norris's march to Lisbon took six days, the men suffering from the "excess heate & some weaknes" and the delaying tactics of a Spanish army. Drake, however, was not there to meet them and remained anchored at Castcais (MacCaffrey, War and Politics, p. 91). Norris's troops being too weak to take Lisbon, and finding "all those that weare to be suspected and able to assiste" Dom Antonio had been sent away, retreated to Castcais. The expedition returned to England a costly failure having achieved none of its objectives.

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