Early Elizabethan England – Drake’s circumnavigation of the world.

Who was Francis Drake?

Francis Drake was an Elizabethan sailor and navigator. His first voyage in 1566 was as a slave trader. In 1580 he became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. His career has been interpreted in different ways, ranging from national hero to villain.

Why did Francis Drake circumnavigate the world in 1577?

  1. Attack Spain
    Drake’s aim went he set sail in 1577 was attack the Spanish not circumnavigate the world. He wanted to attack Spanish colonies in the Pacific. Anglo- Spanish relations had been declining and gave him an opportunity to attack.

Colonies: land under the control and influence of another country.

Anglo: English

2. Revenge
Drake was Puritan who hated Catholics and he was very anti-Spanish. In 1568 Drake was attacked by the Spanish at San Juan de Ulua in Mexico. Drake had been on trans-Atlantic expedition with John Hawkins when attacked. The expedition was attacked because the Spanish were angry at England’s attempts to trade in the New World. The Spanish attack led to the loss four ships and the death of over 300 of Drake’s sailors. Following the attack, Drake promise to take revenge on the Spanish. Drake was not the only person who wanted revenge on Spain. Elizabeth I also wanted revenge.

Puritan: Extreme Protestant

New World: The Americas

3. Profit
Exploration voyages during the Elizabethan period often led to huge profits. Drake’s journey to the Americas and beyond were seen as profitable by many rich Elizabethans, including Elizabeth I, who invested in his voyage. During the voyage Spanish gold, silver and other treasures were taken as a reward for Drake and his investors. When Drake returned from his voyage he had made a lot of money.

GCSE Style Question

  1. Watch the instructions below
  2. Answer the question – Explain why Drake circumnavigated the world. [12 marks]

What was the significance of Drake’s circumnavigation of the world 1577 – 1580?

England was seen as a powerful sea faring nation

Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. This gave the English ships and sailors an excellent reputation. Even though Drake only return with one, the Golden Hind, out his five ships.

Encouraged more explorations

During Drake’s voyage he and his crew travelled up the coast of South America and north to Canada. They kept records that could be shared. This led to more explorations and new trade links established further away including China and India. During his circumnavigation of the world Drake established Nova Albion as English territory. This encourage more trade and colonies in the New World.

Worsened England’s relations with the Spanish

Drake’s attack on the Spain in the Americas angered the King of Spain, Philip II. When Drake returned from his circumnavigation of the world Elizabeth I knighted and this further angered Philip II.

Answer the following quick fire questions without looking at the notes above. Repeat until you can get them all right without looking.

1. Which nations relationship decline between following Drake’s circumnavigation of the world?
2. How did Elizabeth I reward Drake when he returned?
3. Which King was angered by Elizabeth I’s actions towards Drake?
4. Where did Drake establish as English territory?
5. Name two countries where trade links with the English were established.
6. What was the reputation of English ships and sailors on Drake’s return?

Click for answers
  1. Anglo – Spanish
  2. Knighted him – became Sir Francis Drake
  3. Philip II
  4. Nova Albion
  5. China and India
  6. Excellent – world leading

Well done you have completed today’s learning

What to know more?
Grades 7 – 9