marques de Santa Cruz, (1526–1588)

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Don Álvaro de Bazán, marqués de Santa Cruz de Mudela

Né Alvara de Bazán. Spanish admiral.

Spanish admiral, member of the Order of Santiago, considered the primary organizer of the Spanish Armada against England in 1588. Born on 12 September 1526 in Granada, Spain, Bazán was the son of the general of Spanish galley squadrons in the Mediterranean. With his naval background, Bazán was able to secure command positions in the Spanish navy from a young age.

Through experience fighting the Moors, the French, and the Ottoman Turks in the Mediterranean, Bazán quickly became one of Spain’s leading naval figures. By 1568 King Philip II had placed Bazán in command of the Neapolitan galleys. During the allied Christian campaigns against the Turks in the eastern Mediterranean, Bazán commanded the allied reserve fleet at Lepanto (1571); he displayed excellent leadership and earned widespread praise.

In command of the reserve line at Lepanto (1571), his quick action saved the Christian center from a flank attack by Muslim galleys and helped turn the battle. He led an Atlantic fleet in support of Philip II’s conquest of Portugal (1580). Although he was trained in Mediterranean galley warfare, it was in the Atlantic that Bazán truly made his mark. During Spain’s conquest of Portugal in 1580, he led the Spanish fleet in support of the Duke of Alba’s forces ashore. In 1583 off the Azores, Santa Cruz destroyed a French fleet under the command of Filippo Strozzi at the Battle of Terceira.

It is believed that after securing the former Portuguese islands for Spain, Santa Cruz suggested the plan for deploying the Spanish Armada against England to Philip in a letter in 1583. He was the leading proponent of a Spanish invasion of England from an early date. As the leading Spanish sailor of the day, he was given command of the king’s great ‘‘Enterprise of England’’ but died before the Invincible Armada sailed. He was replaced by Medina Sidonia.

Battle of Terceira, (1582).

The naval Battle of Ponta Delgada, Battle of São Miguel or Battle of Terceira took place on July 26, 1582, in the sea near the Azores, off São Miguel Island, as part of the War of the Portuguese Succession. An Anglo-French corsair expedition sailed against a Spanish naval force to preserve control of the Azores under pretender António, Prior of Crato and to defend the islands from incorporation into the Iberian Union—the largest French force sent overseas before the age of Louis XIV.

In the first engagement between large fleets of galleons operating at great distances from the mainland, the mercenary fleet under Filippo di Piero Strozzi was severely defeated by a squadron under Álvaro de Bazán. The Spanish victory resulted in the rapid Spanish conquest of the Azores, completing the incorporation of Portugal into the Spanish Empire

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
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