From The Wall Street Journal:

On Sept. 21, 1588, a savage storm lashed the western coast of Ireland. As the gale intensified, three bulky ships ran aground on the sands of Streedagh Strand, north of Sligo. Part of a formidable “Armada” sent by King Philip II of Spain to conquer the kingdom of his archenemy, Queen Elizabeth I of England, the armed merchantmen had already made a remarkable odyssey. The mission had taken them from Portugal, through the English Channel in a running fight with the nimble and well-armed warships of the “Virgin Queen,” and then around Scotland on a hazardous homeward passage. Now pulverized by the unrelenting Atlantic surf, the stricken vessels broke apart, with the loss of more than 1,000 lives.

In “Armada: The Spanish Enterprise and England’s Deliverance in 1588,” Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker trace the genesis, fate and legacy of a venture that is remembered as a disaster but that, in their estimation, came close to achieving its objective. The authors first met in 1973, and in the half-century since have maintained a fruitful academic collaboration. In a revised and expanded version of a book first published in 1988, the two deliver what will surely become the definitive account of what the Spanish called “the Enterprise of England.”

Mr. Parker, a professor of history at Ohio State University, draws upon his unrivaled mastery of the extensive documentary sources. Mr. Martin, a retired reader in maritime archaeology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, deploys knowledge he has gained in directing the exploration of three Armada wrecks. Distinguished by incisive analysis, “Armada” fuses the complementary skills of the historian and the underwater archaeologist, exploiting the latest discoveries from the archives and seabed alike to help explain why the endeavor ultimately failed.

The original proposal for the “Enterprise of England,” drawn up in 1586 by its designated commander, the experienced marquis of Santa Cruz, envisaged a single amphibious task force. Philip, an inveterate “micromanager,” could not resist meddling with the plan, making it dependent upon close cooperation between the fleet and an entirely separate army. The authors show how this made the mission much more complicated.

Philip was adamant that the Armada should sail up the English Channel and rendezvous in the narrow Straits of Dover with the Spanish “Army of Flanders,” which would be stationed in the Netherlands. Whatever the provocation, the Armada was to save its strength until positioned to escort almost 30,000 veterans, packed aboard specially prepared barges, to a beachhead in Kent.

The invasion would be commanded by the king’s nephew, Alexander Farnese, duke of Parma. Supplied and reinforced by the Armada, Parma’s army was to push inland against London, its flank braced by ships probing the Thames estuary. The king’s strategic vision may have been compromised by his religious piety; the extremely devout Philip was confident that God’s favor would overcome all difficulties.

The Armada’s departure was delayed by the logistical challenge of assembling and supplying such a vast undertaking. In 1587, Francis Drake hampered Spanish preparations by torching stores stockpiled at Cadiz in a pre-emptive strike that he described as “singeing the King of Spain’s beard.” When the marquis of Santa Cruz succumbed to typhus, the role of organizer was assumed by the duke of Medina Sidonia, despite his reluctance to accept what he regarded as a poisoned chalice. The duke’s administrative ability put the Armada on an even keel: By the time it eventually left Iberia, the revitalized force mustered 130 ships carrying 27,000 men. Significantly, though, two-thirds of them were soldiers with scant experience of life afloat.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

UPDATE: The first comment on this post mentioned that this book may not be quite so new as the WSJ lead PG to believe.

PG searched Amazon with the following query: the armada garrett mattingly and found Mr. Mattingly’s name on several earlier Armada editions without a co-author dating back to 1959.

PG then clicked on the link from the co-author, Geoffrey Parker. Again, the link didn’t go to an author page, but rather a collection of books. The first was Operations Management for Dummies for which Mr. Parker was the third of three co-authors. The second listing was for The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare (Cambridge Illustrated Histories) for which Mr. Parker was the editor. The Armada book in the OP was far down the list for Mr. Parker.

The author links seem a bit dodgy and PG found some other Geoffrey Parkers that may or may not have been the Geoffrey Parker in the OP.

PG hereby offers to show anyone from the Yale University Press how to set up a proper author page on Amazon. Even though he’s not a Yalie, he will not charge a fee to the university for what should be a telephone call lasting about ten minutes or a maximum of three emails.

Publisher: Yale University Press

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2 thoughts on “Armada”

  1. I’m a bit confused. This is an excellent book that I’ve used as a reference for my current work-in-progress. The book actually came out in 1988. I think the only thing new appears to me is that this is a $40 hardback edition?

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