Francis Drake arrived back in Plymouth on 20 September 1580, with a ship laden with treasures and spices. He had set of three years ago with five small ships, but only his Golden Hind survived the treacherous Straits of Magellan to reach the Pacific. Drake landed at San Francisco Bay and claimed it for England, then crossed the Pacific to trade in the Spice Islands before setting a course for home, via the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope.
Francis Drake was an English naval hero and explorer who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world (1577–1580) and was vice admiral of the fleet that destroyed the Spanish Armada (1588). Drake was as famous in his own lifetime as David Beckham is today. He was one of the most famous men in Elizabethan times.
Drake's route around the world
Drake captured tons of silver, gold, coins and jewels from Spanish galleons in the Americas. Spain complained bitterly and wanted Drake hanged for piracy, but Drake was a public hero and Elizabeth I herself backed his expedition.
Francis Drake was born in 1540 in Tavistock, Devon, England. He first started going to sea while living in Chatham in Kent, at the age of 12 or 13. He was an apprentice on a small trading ship which was left to him when the master died. but became famous as a pirate and explorer.
During his life, Protestant England was often at war with Catholic Spain and there were rich rewards for capturing Spanish ships.
Drake, who was an incredibly bold and brilliant sailor, captured more than his fair share of Spanish ships. His pirate raids on Spanish ships off the coast of America were encouraged by Queen Elizabeth I. Drake's successful battles against the Spanish helped England become a major sea power.
On the way round the world, Drake landed in what is now California, naming it Nova Albion (New England) and claiming it for his queen.
Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth l for his courage, and for the treasures he brought back with him. He brought back enough treasure to pay off the entire national debt.
In 1587, Elizabeth I put Drake in command of an expedition to attack a Spanish fleet which was getting ready to attack England. Drake sailed right in to Cadiz harbour and wrecked the ships there, before going on to capture another hundred Spanish ships elsewhere. It was said he'd 'singed the king of Spain's beard'. By 1588, he was Vice-Admiral of the fleet which defeated the Spanish Armada.