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Francis Drake
Biographical Information
Real Name: Francis Drake
Title: Sir Francis Drake

Sea Captain
Vice Admiraly
Naval Commander
Privateer

Born: 1540
Death: 28 January 1596
Age: 55
Religion: Protestant
Gender: Male
Originally From: Tavistock, England
Parents: Edmund Drake (Father)

Mary Mylwaye (Mother)

Wife: Elizabeth Sydenham

Mary Newman †

Family: 11 (Brother)

Captain John Hawkins (2nd Couisin)

Affiliations: Kingdom of England

Queen Elizabeth

COD: Dysentery
TV Character Information
First appearance: Blood in the Water
Portrays: Francis Drake


Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Drake carried out the second circumnavigation of the world in a single expedition, from 1577 to 1580, and was the first to complete the voyage as captain while leading the expedition throughout the entire circumnavigation. With his incursion into the Pacific Ocean, he inaugurated an era of privateering and piracy in the western coast of the Americas—an area that had previously been free of piracy.

Queen Elizabeth of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He died of dysentery in January 1596, after unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico.

His Exploits made him a hero to the English but a pirate to the Spaniards, to whom he was known as 'El Draque' (The Dragon). King Philip II was said to have offered a reward of 20,000 ducats, (about £4 million/ US$6.5 million) by modern standards, for his life.

Early LifeEdit

Francis Drake was born in Tavistock, Devon, England. Although his birth is not formally recorded, it is known that he was born while the Six Articles were in force.

He was the eldest of the twelve sons of Edmund Drake, a Protestant farmer, and his wife Mary Mylwaye. The first son was alleged to have been named after his godfather Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford.

Because of religious persecution during the Prayer Book Rebellion in 1549, the Drake family fled from Devonshire into Kent. There the father obtained an appointment to minister the men in the King's Navy. He was ordained deacon and was made vicar of Upnor Church on the Medway. Drake's father apprenticed Francis to his neighbor, the master of a barque used for coastal trade transporting merchandise to France. The ship master was so satisfied with the young Drake's conduct that, being unmarried and childless at his death, he bequeathed the barque to Drake.

SailingEdit

At age 23, Drake made his first voyage to The Americas, sailing with his second cousin, Captain John Hawkins, on one of a fleet of ships owned by his relatives. In 1568 Drake was again with the Hawkins fleet when it was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa. He escaped along with Hawkins.

Following that defeat, Drake vowed revenge. He made two voyages to the West Indies, in 1570 and 1571, of which little is known.

In 1572, he embarked on his first major independent enterprise. He planned an attack on the Isthmus of Panama. This was the point at which the silver and gold treasure of Peru had to be landed and sent overland to the Caribbean Sea, where galleons from Spain would pick it up at the town of Nombre de Dios. Drake left Plymouth on 24 May 1572, with a crew of 73 men in two small vessels, The Pascha and The Swan, to capture Nombre de Dios.

His first raid was late in July 1572. Drake and his men captured the town and its treasure. When his men noticed that Drake was bleeding profusely from a wound, they insisted on withdrawing to save his life and left the treasure. Drake stayed in the area for almost a year, raiding Spanish shipping and attempting to capture a treasure shipment.

In 1573, he joined Guillaume Le Testu, a French buccaneer, in an attack on a richly laden mule train. Drake and his party found that they had captured around 20 tons of silver and gold. They buried much of the treasure, as it was too much for their party to carry. (An account of this may have given rise to subsequent stories of pirates and buried treasure.) Wounded, Le Testu was captured and later beheaded. The small band of adventurers dragged as much gold and silver as they could carry back across some 18 miles of jungle-covered mountains to where they had left the raiding boats. When they got to the coast, the boats were gone. Drake and his men, downhearted, exhausted and hungry, had nowhere to go and the Spanish were not far behind.

At this point Drake rallied his men, buried the treasure on the beach, and built a raft to sail with two volunteers ten miles along the surf-lashed coast to where they had left the flagship. When Drake finally reached its deck, his men were alarmed at his bedraggled appearance. Fearing the worst, they asked him how the raid had gone. Drake could not resist a joke and teased them by looking downhearted. Then he laughed, pulled a necklace of Spanish gold from around his neck and said "Our voyage is made, lads!" By 9 August 1573, he had re

Slave Trading Drake accompanied his second cousin Captain John Hawkins in making the third English slave-trading expeditions, making fortunes through the abduction and transportation of West African people, and then exchanging them for high-value goods. The first Englishman recorded to have taken slaves from Africa was John Lok, a London trader who, in 1555, brought to England five slaves from Guinea.

A second London trader taking slaves at that time was William Towerson whose fleet sailed into Plymouth following his 1556 voyage to Africa and from Plymouth on his 1557 voyage. Despite the exploits of Lok and Towerson, John Hawkins is widely acknowledged to be an early pioneer of the English slave trade. While Hawkins made only three such trips, ultimately the English were to dominate the trade.

Around 1563 Drake first sailed west to the Spanish Main, on a ship owned and commanded by John Hawkins, with a cargo of people forcibly removed from the coast of West Africa. The Englishmen sold their African captives into slavery in Spanish plantations. In general, the kidnapping and forced transportation of people was considered to be a criminal offence under English law at the time, although legal protection did not extend to slaves, non-Protestants or criminals. Hawkins' own account of his actions (in which Drake took part) cites two sources for their victims. One was military attacks on African towns and villages, the other was attacking Portuguese slave ships.

Circumnavigation of the Earth
With the success of the Panama isthmus raid, in 1577 Queen Elizabeth of England sent Drake to start an expedition against the Spanish along the Pacific coast of The Americas. Drake used the plans that Sir Richard Grenville had received the patent for in 1574 from Elizabeth.

Drake set sail on 13 December aboard Pelican with four other ships and 164 men. He soon added a sixth ship, Santa Maria. It's Captain, Nuno da Silva, a man with considerable experience navigating in South American waters.

Drake's fleet suffered great attrition; he scuttled both Christopher and the flyboat Swan due to loss of men on the Atlantic crossing. He made landfall at the gloomy bay of San Julian, in what is now Argentina. Ferdinand Magellan had called here half a century earlier, where he put to death some mutineers. Drake's men saw weathered and bleached skeletons on the grim Spanish gibbets. Following Magellan's example, Drake tried and executed his own "mutineer" Thomas Doughty. The crew discovered that Santa Maria had rotting timbers, so they burned the ship. Drake decided to remain the winter in San Julian before attempting the Strait of Magellan.

Capture of Spanish treasure ships
Near Lima, Drake captured a Spanish ship laden with 25,000 pesos of Peruvian gold, (about £7m). Drake also discovered news of another ship, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, which was sailing west towards Manila. It would come to be called the Cacafuego. Drake gave chase and eventually captured the treasure ship, which proved his most profitable capture. He found 80 lb (36 kg) of gold, a golden crucifix, jewels, 13 chests full of royals of plate and 26 tons of silver. Drake was naturally pleased at his good luck in capturing the galleon, and he showed it by dining with the captured ship's officers and gentleman passengers. He offloaded his captives a short time later, and gave each one gift, appropriate to their rank, as well as a letter of safe conduct.


Knighhood
Queen Elizabeth awarded Drake a knighthood aboard Golden Hind in Deptford on 4 April 1581; the dubbing being performed by a French diplomat, Monsieur de Marchaumont, who was negotiating for Elizabeth to marry the King of France's brother, Francis, Duke of Anjou. By getting the French diplomat involved in the knighting, Elizabeth was gaining the implicit political support of the French for Drake's actions. During the Victorian era, in a spirit of nationalism, the story was promoted that Elizabeth I had done the knighting.

DeathEdit

Drake's seafaring career continued into his mid-fifties. In 1595, he failed to conquer the port of Las Palmas, and following a disastrous campaign against Spanish America, where he suffered a number of defeats, he unsuccessfully attacked San Juan de Puerto Rico, eventually losing the Battle of San Juan.

The Spanish gunners from El Morro Castle shot a cannonball through the cabin of Drake's flagship, and he survived; but a few weeks later, in January 1596, he died of dysentery when he was about 55, while anchored off the coast of Portobelo, Panama, where some Spanish treasure ships had sought shelter. Following his death, the English fleet withdrew.

Before dying, he asked to be dressed in his full armour. He was buried at sea in a lead coffin, near Portobelo. Divers continue to search for the coffin.

NotesEdit

  • At age 23, Francis Drake made his first voyage to The Americas with his second cousin, Sir John Hawkins.
  • With the success of the Panama isthmus raid, in 1577 Queen Elizabeth of England sent Drake to start an expedition against the Spanish along the Pacific coast of The Americas.
  • Exploits made him a hero to the English but a pirate to the Spaniards, to whom he was known as El Draque. King Philip II was said to have offered a reward of 20,000 ducats, (about £4 million/ US$6.5 million) by modern standards, for his life.
  • Queen Elizabeth of England awarded Sir Francis Drake a knighthood in 1581
  • He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588
  • In 1590 Francis Drake and Captain John Hawkins founded a charity for the relief of sick & elderly mariners.


Historical Figure

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