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Bowdoin Prize Dissertation.


Mr. Frank Lincoln Olmsted read last evening in Sever 5 very interesting paper entitled "The Story of the Armada."

The real cause for the Spanish Armada was the bitter hatred that existed between the two great religious sects, the Protestants and Catholics. The age, too, was one in which revolutions and great fanatic movements were not only frequent but popular. But the preparations received their final stimulus from the execution of Mary, Queen of Scotts. Before her death she had bequeathed her right to the English crown to Philip II., now king of Spain. The assistance which the revolted Netherlands had received from the English still further roused the Spaniards against them.

Queen Elizabeth tried every means in her power to avert the threatening invasion. Again and again English and Spanish ambassadors met, but to no purpose. When Admirable Blake inflicted a severe blow upon the Spanish-navy, the queen immediately sent messages of apology to Spain, although the very ships that Drake had destroyed were intended for England's conquest. The people of England, however, were far more ready and willing to face the danger. In spite of the meagre appropriations of the government a fleet was built and an army organized.

No other great expedition seems to have been so hampered and delayed as that of the Spanish Armada. The army lay in readiness for over a year before the fleet was in a sea-worthy condition. Finally, in the last of May, 1588, the fleet sailed for England. It was compsed of 130 vessels, 3200 guns, 10,000 sailors, and 20,000 soldiers. to oppose them England had collected 200 small ships and about 10,000 soldiers. We can little imagine now what a terror the Spanish name then possessed. Philip II. was the greatest mouarch then living and the Spanish arms had the inestimable advantage of never having been baffled.

When the Armada was first sighted from the cliffs of England it was sweeping up the channel in the form of a crescent. The English fleet now commenced a skirmishing fight which neither increased nor lessened throughout the coming week, but which in the end destroyed the Armada. During Sunday the Spaniards anxiously awaited Parma who was to bring up the main body of the soldiers. Parma. however, was penned up by the Dutch fleet and effectually kept from joining the expedition. When night came the English sent fireships among the enemies' ships. The Spaniards became panic stricken and put to sea. A stormy wind drove many of them to the south, while the rest, eighty-six in number, were attacked and partially destroyed by the English. Little hope now remained of joining Parma; much less of conquering England. Their one care now was to get home. But to return the way they had come was impossible. Hence they must make their way around Great Britain and so home to Spain. When they got to Scotland the English stopped their harassing warrare and returned home. Thus during the rest of the vovage the Spaniards had to contend against the elements alone; but these were as destructive as the enemy, for only fifty ships and ten thousand men returned to Spain.

From this time the Spanish power began to decline, while the English prosperity can be dated from this victory.

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