Spain´s own naval victories?

From the battle of Lepanto to the mid-19th century.
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Karl Heidenreich
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Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu May 04, 2006 4:12 pm

I´ve been reading a bit about the Nelson era, and in doing so I found a historical novel called "Cabo Trafalgar" by Arturo Pérez Reverte. In some aspects it´s astonishing that the naval warfare history of Spain has remained hidden for so many years. We all have heard about the Battle of St. Vincent Cape or Finisterre and, obviously, Trafalgar. But there were many other naval operations in which the spaniards did beat the britons, like Tolon, Tenerife, La Habana, Cartagena, etc.
This by no means refer that we are being misled about British victories: there were many and great ones, but the Spanish did had their "battles of Denmarck Straits" of their own. And that makes History even more interesting because we find that the Spanish Navy wasn´t a sitting duck, which is a notion we can derive from Hollywood 1940ies´ movies and such. No, sir. They often won and in ocasions with numerical or technical inferiority.
What a time! Pirates, corsairs, British Fleet, Spanish Fleet, treasures being transported from America to Europe. And Europe in constant war.
I higly recommend this novel to everyone who enjoys naval warfare (I don´t know if there is a translation to other languages).
Very best regards!

George Gerolimatos
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Cool

Postby George Gerolimatos » Thu May 04, 2006 7:25 pm

Hi,
Thanks for the heads-up on this book, though, sadly, I speak no Spanish. What's great about this website is that there are so many different nationalities so that we can get a more balanced appreciation of the naval strengths of many nations. I know very little about the Spanish navy in the days of sail, but I think it's very important to point out the long and distinguished history of Spanish naval and merchant history. After all, along with Portugal, the Spanish were among the first great discoverers and traders. All I know about the naval arm is the usual cliche about the very poor training and motivation on the part of the Spanish sailor (I read somewhere that most of the men in the Armada were not even sailors but land soldiers recruited by force), but I have also read that Nelson sincerely admired Spanish shipbuilding. The British may have had rugged ships and well-trained men, but the Spanish warships were splendid vessels. That they won their own share of naval victories should not be forgotten, nor the victories of the Dutch (de Ruyter really gave the Brits a run for their money) or the French (Suffren!).
George G

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby RF » Thu May 08, 2008 8:18 am

One Spanish success that has certainly had very little publicity in Britain was their seizure and occupation of Penzance, Cornwall for several weeks in 1594, some six years on from the Armada fiasco. It hardly gets a mention im our history books....
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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby mike1880 » Thu May 08, 2008 10:08 pm

You keep repeating this claim. Lets get some perspective on this, shall we? On successive days (July 23rd-24th - and it was 1595, by the way) the Spanish landed 400 troops and burnt Mousehole, Newlyn and Penzance. By the 25th there were enough local forces on hand to prevent another attempted landing, and shortly afterwards they withdrew because of the threat of naval intervention from Plymouth.

Exactly how does this constitute an "occupation"? How exactly does this constitute "several weeks"?

Mike

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby RF » Fri May 09, 2008 8:41 am

This is the story I have read, and until now I had seen nothing to contradict it.

There is extremely little in English history books on this matter and from what you say this affair has been exagerrated in the one account I have seen. Can you give me your sources of info so I can follow them up?
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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby RF » Fri May 09, 2008 9:18 am

Can I add, as I can no longer re-edit the above post, that the source of my information was in a book concerning the later years of the reign of Elizabeth I and the succession of the Stuart line to the English throne.
The information was contained in a footnote to a chapter on the political fallout from the failure of the Spanish Armada, making reference to a report by Robert Cecil to the Queen.

I read this book about five or six years ago in the reference section of Wolverhampton Public Library and as it hasn't been there for some time I am not able to identify any details of title, author or ISBN.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby mike1880 » Fri May 09, 2008 11:04 pm

Following is a reasonable, if old fashioned, account:
http://west-penwith.org.uk/raid.htm

All English accounts seem to originate from a single source dating from seven years after the event; there is also as far as I can judge only a single Spanish source, the commander's report to Phillip II. The account above also refers to what English histories usually ignore - that there were two more serious Spanish invasion attempts, in 1597 and (IIRC) 1599.

The events appear to be orders of magnitude less significant than the havoc the French wrought on the English coast during the 100 Years' War (completely whitewashed out of English history) or the Dutch landing at Landguard Fort in the 1600s (and of course, the last successful invasion of England was the Dutch invasion in 1688 which we persist in treating as a triumph of Parliamentary democracy but which was every bit as much an invasion as the US invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq - it's just that the quislings got to write the history books). On the plus side, it's also orders of magnitude less significant than the equivalent assault on Cadiz by the English a couple of years later.

Mike

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby RF » Mon May 12, 2008 12:53 pm

The referenced article is of considerable interest, apparently sourced from memory and written up in 1602, seven years after the event.

I have checked to my handwritten notes I made from my above mentioned source. The year I have is 1594 and not 1595 but the essential details tally. It is not clear whether the reference to Robert Cecil concerning his report to Elizabeth I was based on anything in writing, I assume that if it was there would by now be other sources quoting from it. If the report was verbal (given the at times frosty and awkward relationship between the two this is probably highly likely) it would explain the lack of any evidence today.

Essentially the discrepancies between our information doesn't invalidate the premise that this was a Spanish ''victory'', whether you call it a raid or occupation is academic.

Moving on to 1688, I don't think you can compare it to current operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, not least that in 1688 there was no international law to say it was illegal. The ''Dutch'' invasion did incorporate English and Scottish regiments, continued the Stuart line, and arose out of the failure of the political legitimacy of James II.

History as you essentially say is written by the winners and ''The Glorious Revolution'' reflects that. Had the last attempted invasion of England - the Jacobite invasion from Scotland in 1745 - succeeded then no doubt 1688 would be recorded as a year of infamy.

My own view is that the last true King of England was Harold Godwinson - and he was killed way back in 1066. Since then we have had a succession of monarchical lines based on essentially a usurpation enshrined in law, the law being written by the winners. And it is upon that that legitimacy is based.
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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon May 12, 2008 3:25 pm

RF:

My own view is that the last true King of England was Harold Godwinson - and he was killed way back in 1066. Since then we have had a succession of monarchical lines based on essentially a usurpation enshrined in law, the law being written by the winners. And it is upon that that legitimacy is based.


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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby lwd » Mon May 12, 2008 4:09 pm

RF wrote:.... My own view is that the last true King of England was Harold Godwinson - and he was killed way back in 1066. Since then we have had a succession of monarchical lines based on essentially a usurpation enshrined in law, the law being written by the winners....


Why stop there? Didn't Hengist and his successors usurp the land from the Britons?

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby Bgile » Mon May 12, 2008 5:48 pm

I think the Artur legend originated with the Celts. Weren't they the original Britons?

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby lwd » Mon May 12, 2008 6:47 pm

No there were at least one people in Briton before the Celts probably more. The Artherian legends come from a bunch of different sources. Arther (if he existed was probably a RomanoBritain or the close decendent of one.

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby RF » Tue May 13, 2008 8:18 am

Looks like we are going back to Boudicca of the Iceni.....

If you take this approach literally then we may as well say that the US should belong to the Sioux, Canada to the Mohicans, Spain to the Moors etc. You have to have a starting point somewhere and the history of virtually all countries is one of long term waves of migration.
A lot of it gets airbrushed from history, especially if it is inconvenient to the current ruling political ideology. Rather like the times the Spanish won over the English, as in 1595 or 1594 or whenever.....
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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby Bgile » Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am

Actually it is common here in the states to refer to North American indians as "native americans". There were of course many, many tribes other than the Sioux. While I don't seem to have any indian blood, my wife is part Cherokee.

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Re: Spain´s own naval victories?

Postby RF » Thu May 15, 2008 12:32 pm

This is a growing political correctness away from the days of Wounded Knee and the Wild West, reflecting a worldwide trend generally, particulary more so in countries like Australia and New Zealand regarding their native people's.

My reference to Sioux incidentally was as a euphenism for all the native tribes to the US - and going back in time they too were invaders, as they were originally native to Asia.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.


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