The English Armada: Battles at Sea I

Engraving of the galley of the Adelantado of Castile, Royal Palace (Palacio Real), Madrid.

A gentle breeze was blowing as dawn broke on Monday, 19 June, and so the Adelantado of Castile ‘set out that morning with nine ships in pursuit of the enemy fleet, which was coming round Cape Saint Vincent’. As the ships sailed out, ‘they encountered a French vessel that was fleeing from the Armada with seventy Englishmen on board; the French were allowed to take everything off them, which they did in such a way that they almost skinned them alive’. That is how the tragic withdrawal of the English Armada began, and as we shall see, their losses were just as great as during the Spanish Armada. Stripped and with their bodies lacerated by their French captors, these Englishmen were the first of what was to become an almost unmanageable number of prisoners that soon gave the Spaniards some serious logistical problems.

Later that same day, ‘a Flemish store ship appeared out at sea and the Adelantado sent across Don Francisco Coloma and Don Juan Puertocarrero with their galleys. They found about fifty Englishmen who were readily handed over by the Flemish without a struggle. Both this ship and the French vessel were allowed to sail for Lisbon.’ Not a great deal was gleaned from interrogating the Englishmen. ‘It was understood from the English that the fleet was heading for Cádiz, and in view of that the Adelantado asked permission from the Cardinal Archduke to take all his galleys to stop the enemy. His Highness granted the request provided that he did not take more than nine of his galleys.’ And so as night fell on Monday, 19 June 1589, the fearless Padilla stayed on course with his nine galleys in pursuit of the English. At the same time, in Lisbon, fifteen caravels with extra men and munitions were being made ready in order to reinforce the strategically important Azores. It is clear that day by day the Spanish recovery was taking shape at the same time that the defeat of the English was being planned, although, as will be seen, adverse winds prevented the reinforcement flotilla for the Azores from setting sail immediately.

The oars of the galley slaves followed the unvarying rhythm set by the overseer. Stroke after stroke the blades of the oars emerged from the water, were turned in the air and then thrust in the water once more. For its part, the gentle northerly breeze helped the galleys’ oarsmen along as they blindly pursued their objective through the darkness of the night. There were only two cannons mounted at the prow and two at the stern on these ships, as there was no room at the sides because of the oars and the low clearance above the level of the sea. However, these cannons had been carefully chosen from among the reinforced culverins of the period. They were long-range cannons and, when fired from under five hundred metres, were very accurate, effective and had great destructive force. In addition, over short distances the power of the muskets and harquebuses could wipe out the decks, topsails, upper decks and embrasures of enemy ships. In this way,

with these nine galleys he [Padilla] went in pursuit of the enemy but without any sight of him, and three hours before daybreak he found himself in the middle of the Armada. To confirm that was where he was, he sent an Englishman, Captain Eduardo Grecio, in a skiff to talk to the nearest ship, where they told him that they were not following the Admiral. From this conversation it was clear that this was the whole fleet and they had been among them without the enemy realizing it until dawn.

So dawn on 20 June found the nine galleys in the middle of the scattered English Armada. It was time to intercept the stragglers, and so Padilla placed his ship like a wedge between them and the rest of the fleet. Sure enough, ‘the Adelantado endeavoured to position himself on the right side of the wind and once he had done so he captured all the ships that were out of position. With his galley he attacked three large supply ships, a tender and a barge and other galleys came to his assistance, especially that of Don Juan Puertocarrero.’ For its part ‘La Patrona, with Don Andrés de Atienza on board, took a supply ship together with La Peregrina, Serena, Leona, Palma, and Florida, and these two stayed with it until it was set alight.’ And so, one by one, the ships that had become separated from the fleet fell into Padilla’a hands.

For his part, Alonso de Bazán ‘attacked a ship from Plymouth which had fallen behind and in the boarding of the ship that followed its Captain Caverley was killed with most of his men. Two other straggling ships were attacked and sunk by the galleys. In one of them Captain Minshaw and his crew fought heroically until they disappeared engulfed in flames.’ There is a different report concerning the fate of Captain Caverley, which gives him as a prisoner, for ‘having abandoned his ship, he escaped in a small boat and was then captured’. Several documents record Bazán’s attack. This is how John Evesham describes it:

On the morning of the 20th and with the sea in a state of calm eight galleys headed in a windward direction towards us and attacked two of our small ships that were said not to have been able to defend themselves due to a lack of gunpowder and munitions. However, as far as I know and thanks to God’s assistance these two escaped. Then the galleys attacked two other small ships head on and upwind and they were caught and set alight and the survivors taken prisoner. In addition, I was told that the William, commanded by Mr Hawkins of Plymouth, whose men, so I heard, sailed off in a small boat, was set fire to two or three times, although the fire went out. Then the Admiral arrived and with one cannon shot ensured that the galleys left him alone. But they pursued the small boat in order to capture the men and although they failed to do so they sank it and all the men drowned. And the (the word ‘burnt’ is struck out) boat was sunk by our own men because there were not enough men to sail it.

Other documents and writers recorded these attacks by the galleys. For example, the Spanish press described it thus:

And so on the morning of the nineteenth of June [the Adelantado] sailed out with nine ships in pursuit of the enemy fleet, which was coming round Cape St. Vincent, and before any encounter they met up with a further six galleys that joined forces with them, and when they came across the enemy fleet they used their cannons against them on the twentieth and the twenty-fifth of June, for there was little wind and they were able to do a great deal of damage. They set fire to three ships, while others said five, they sank two others and took prisoners from them all, causing a lot of damage to the remainder but without the galleys incurring any serious damage in return.

The Portuguese press referred to three sunk and two set on fire. Cabrera de Córdoba wrote of four sunk and an unspecified number of ships burnt. Juan de Arquellada mentions seven sunk or set ablaze, while Duro had four sunk by the Adelantado and three set on fire by Alonso de Bazán. Hume wrote of three sunk or captured and one burnt. More recently, Kelsey wrote of five or six ships lost. However, apart from González-Arnao, no attention was paid to the fate of the ships captured earlier by the English Armada in Cascais, which had come to form part of the fleet. In summary, on 19 June, two of the merchant vessels seized by Drake and manned by captured crewmen were released. One of them, the French one, made its own way to join the galleys. On 20 June, another four supply ships, also with English crewmen, were captured, and in addition most probably a tender and a barge from among the vessels seized by Drake. Between three and five English ships of low-tonnage – the most numerous by far in the English fleet – were also destroyed and others were damaged, a total of between nine and eleven ships and two smaller craft. About seven hundred Englishmen were taken out of action, of whom one hundred and thirty survived the attacks and were taken prisoner.

On 20 June 1589, the Spanish finally achieved what had been denied them ten months earlier: boarding English ships. The galleys, old-world Mediterranean vessels, had as their main weapon a sharp ram which punched into the hull of enemy ships and acted as a boarding bridge. Galleys were attack ships driven by the strength of the galley slaves or oarsmen and the courage of the soldiers on board. The galley slaves were prisoners of war, men sentenced by law or volunteers called buenas bollas (‘good loaves’) because they were better fed. Artillery was mounted on the bow and aimed by steering the whole ship. Propelled by oar and sail, they were more mobile than the heavy galleons, and if there was no wind they could get behind them and bombard them or board them, as happened at Cape Espichel.

While the rearguard was under attack, the rest of the fleet, far from coming to their aid, took advantage of the fact that the Spanish were distracted by their prey and they made their getaway. The English and the Spanish were unanimous in their contempt for Drake’s extremely unhappy position at this time. In a letter on 20 July, the Adelantado explained:

Even though there was little wind, it helped them to crowd together and take refuge, and the cowardice shown by the whole fleet was a sight to see. And it is clear that in this and in what the prisoners say about the hail of bullets that rained down upon them, this was the work of God to rid these heretics of their pride.

Fenner would not have disagreed with this description by Padilla, for he called the resistance which they met as ‘shameful’.

Padilla treated the crew of the support ships well, as indicated in his letter: ‘Some of the officers and sailors of the Flemish and German ships that were seized will be set free because they were taken by the enemy by force and brought to Spain. I do so without expecting anything in return and I will give them payment because it is desirable to have them willingly serve Your Majesty.’ Returning to the naval operations, ‘the two largest supply ships were set on fire within range of Drake’s cannons and the same action was taken with the other ships, but it wasn’t as effective and one was sunk by the artillery of the flagship’. Meanwhile,

Drake’s flagship and another large flagship carrying the infantry general, together with some other large ships, were trying to regroup their fleet, which they were all so eager to do that it required little effort. All five ships mentioned took part in the fighting, and the remaining vessels nearby assisted them with artillery, especially the flagship, which was being towed by two well-armed barges.

Losses in the galleys were surprisingly few, for ‘in all the galleys there were no more than two dead and up to seventy wounded, the best known of these a son of Juan Ruiz de Velasco’. The explanation for the satisfactory part played by the galleys is explained as follows: ‘The speed with which our harquebuses and artillery operated was of great importance and did not allow the enemy to get into the fight. The enemy’s artillery caused no damage to the galleys, although some bullets did reach the flagship and other vessels.’ That campaign of attrition against the defeated English Armada ended in the early afternoon, for ‘the fighting lasted from dawn until two hours after midday, when the galleys withdrew to rest a while in view of the fact that the enemy had regrouped’.

It was fear of the galleys that led to the dispersal of the fleet. Evesham wrote of this fear in his account: ‘So we two did bear in as near Bayona as we durst for fear of the galleys.’ Later the wind allowed the English to move away from the coast:

At five in the afternoon the enemy sailed so far from the coast that scarcely a ship could be seen, and at this the Adelantado went round Cape St. Vincent to take on water because the galleys were in need of it, and there he waited until the enemy went past, as it would have to do if it was heading for Cádiz.

It was impossible to discover the intentions of the English Armada from the nine prisoners taken during that morning. In fact,

Captains, Sub-lieutenants, English gentlemen and an engineer were taken. They were asked many questions about the destination of the fleet and they all said different things and they all agreed that no-one knows but they suspect that it is heading for Cádiz. Others said that the Infantry General will be returning to England with the whole fleet, and Drake, with Dom António on board, is going with forty of the best ships to the Islands and the Indies. On the one hand they are on the right track to go to the Islands and for the fleet to go to England, and on the other hand it seems that if they had to go (to England) they should have gone from Cascais when the Dutch and Zealand and La Rochelle ships were allowed to go.

In any event, Padilla was not far off the mark when he gave his opinion on the matter: ‘I also believe that their lack of personnel, due to the number they have lost and those who have died and are dying from disease, means that it is quite likely that they have to return.’

What was learned from these prisoners was the fleet’s total lack of provisions:

They said that if they hadn’t seized the wheat-carrying ships that were heading for Lisbon, they would have left their men in Portugal without letting them on board, because they had nothing to give them. Now they have to manage with gruel made from flour and boiled wheat, and more of them fall ill every day. But the ones who get this to eat are the soldiers; the sailors are much better fed.

We do not know how much in these statements is accurate, but they are symptomatic of the malaise and demoralization that had passed through the fleet from one ship to the next. It has already been mentioned that the little food there was, was kept for Drake’s sailors. This fact is significant. The proportion of sailors was already low when the English set sail, but now, after so many setbacks and so much time at sea, packed together without even basic conditions of hygiene and with disease rife on the ships’ decks, the scarcity of sailors began to be a determining factor, as will later become quite clear.

Moreover the prisoners were also aware of the desperate attempts by Drake to secure assistance from the Muslims as promised: ‘They said that Drake sent eight ships to Barbary with an ambassador of the Sharif who came while the fleet was in Cascais.’ This information was corroborated in part, for ‘the three galleys that had just arrived from Cádiz brought news that they went round Cape St. Vincent’. Padilla independently drew his own conclusions: ‘The Sharif will deceive him, as he does with all those who have dealings with him.’ But what really moved the Adelantado of Castile was the sight of the state to which the monastery of Santo Antonio had been reduced after the English had passed through: ‘Next to Cascais there is a monastery of discalced monks called Santo Antonio and its heartless neighbours broke up the altar and the choir and did some further minor damage, and it grieved me greatly to see it.’ Padilla was so affected by the sight of it that in his letter to the King, he added:

And I vowed to God and to the Saint that if I am successful against those heretics, I would endeavour to persuade Your Majesty to restore it to its previous state, and if not, I would pay for it myself. May it please Your Majesty to perform this kind act, because I feel that it would be most pleasing to Our Lord.

However, the destruction of the monastery was but a prior warning of the state in which the Iberians would find Cascais.

The military operations on 20 June exacerbated a problem that would get even worse days later and that was the matter of the growing number of prisoners:

Since I have been in charge of these galleys some prominent captains have been taken and held on board, in addition to some important French corsairs, and amongst the English that were taken on the 20th there are also, as I have indicated, some men of standing, so that all told there is a significant number of them and we have to keep a constant eye on them. I ask Your Majesty to command that we be given assurances that they will be placed somewhere where they are no longer our concern, and to determine the treatment that shall be given to the English. They will be given rations like the sailors, whether they are rowers or not. In my opinion this could be justified for those who have been captured since the war started and they can be given these rations for as long as they remain on the galleys, and unless Your Majesty orders otherwise, they will be given volunteer rations. They are dying off quite quickly, thereby leaving fewer of them for us to deal with.

This terrible commentary indicates the virulence of the disease that took hold among the English expedition.

The action on the morning of 20 June brought about the dispersal of the English Armada with a good number of ships going off course. Thereafter it became difficult to continue to follow the path taken by the fleet which was now largely broken up and dispersed. This situation has been attributed to Drake’s inexperience or ineptitude in managing large fleets, for due to the way he acted he exacerbated the damage inflicted by the galleys on the English Armada, even though initially it was limited because the Spanish galleys were few in number. Drake did not give sufficient priority to ordering the fleet to divide into five squadrons, as had been agreed in Plymouth. On the contrary, the pirate-cum-admiral, possibly unduly influenced by the laxity of piracy when commanding his ships, allowed the Spanish attack to create widespread chaos among the considerable number of English vessels because of his neglect. That is when he lost track of many of them and they were lost forever. One of these was the Gregory from London. On 20 June, this ship was fired on by the galleys and could no longer keep up with the fleet. Or the case of William Fenner, with his flagship of the recently arrived reinforcement squadron, which became detached from the fleet after the attack by the galleys and, in desperation, had to head to Madeira where it would later meet up with other ships.38 In any event, the first squadron of the fleet to set sail, which included Essex, the Dutch and the sick among others, gained the open sea before the attack by the galleys and managed to head north. They were sighted a few days later off the coast of Galicia.

In spite of everything, following the attack by the galleys the majority of the fleet gradually managed to reassemble and so ‘on Tuesday the 20th, at three in the afternoon, they reappeared above Cape Espichel and the town of Sesimbra, whereupon the Duke of Aveiro took up arms in Setúbal, where Your Highness had ordered him, and very bravely and diligently prepared to resist’. All that Drake could do with the calm waters and the westerly breezes was to bring his ships together and wait for favourable winds. The English Armada could no longer undertake any action of significance and their situation grew worse by the day. Moreover, they could no longer land on that coast due to the maximum alert ordered by the Duke of Aveiro, ‘with most captains having arms at the ready for any surprise attack’.

But with the English fleet now at sea, the Iberians focused on Peniche, where five hundred men of the garrison that Norris had assigned on 28 May to provide cover if required were still waiting, with growing unease, for a rescue flotilla to enable them to get away. But amid the chaos and dispersion caused by the galleys and the sea conditions, the rescue ships did not appear. Hence, ‘so that they could attack the enemy in Peniche and take their artillery and prevent them from doing further damage … Dom Martinho quickly wrote to His Highness and to the Counts Fuentes and Vila de Orta’. In this way, ‘that same day (20th) Don Pedro de Guzmán and Don Sancho Bravo set out with their mounted harquebusiers and horsemen under Gaspar de Alarcón, and four hundred harquebusiers with Captains Castillo and Ocampo, heading for Peniche where the enemy had left five hundred men’. That march from Lisbon had to proceed at the pace of the infantry, so that it inevitably took them some time to reach Peniche.


The English Armada: Battles at Sea II

Map: 25 May–20 June, Lisbon.

1.25 May. A council of war held off Peniche where it is decided to undertake an expedition on land, ruling out a naval attack on Lisbon on 26 May. Difficult disembarkation on Consolaçao beach; of the thirty-two landing craft, fourteen went under with over eighty men drowned. First skirmish on the beach: two hours and three charges with 250 Spanish and 150 Portuguese under Captain Alarcón and Juan González de Ateide. Death of Captains Robert Piew and Jackson plus other men. Death of a standard-bearer and fifteen Spaniards. 12,000 soldiers are landed.

2.27 May. Contact with the Portuguese at Peniche and Atouguia. Preparations for the march. Attack by the cavalry of Captain Gaspar de Alarcón: five dead plus one French prisoner who speaks Spanish: he reports that the English Armada is bringing 20,000 men. Surrender of the fortress to Dom António.

3.28 May. The English army reaches Lourinha, where it has proved impossible to raise a Spanish–Portuguese army. Start of the Spanish tactics to cut off supplies and communications. The army begins to starve.

4.28 May. Drake sets sail from Peniche to Cascais with the whole fleet and 3,200 men. A further five hundred, left as a garrison in Peniche, will be killed or captured.

5.28 May. Movement of Spanish troops transported in galleys from Lisbon to São Julião and Oeiras to strengthen the naval front.

6.29 May. The English army reaches Torres Vedras. Nobles in the area take flight. Fear in Lisbon. Locals who live outside the walls take refuge in the city.

7.30 May. Iberian military parade in Queluz, where the new headquarters has been set up.

8.30 May. Drake drops anchor between Cascais and São Julião, adopting a crescent shape.

9.30–31 May. The English enter Loures. Dom António announces that he will enter Lisbon on 1 June, the feast of Corpus Christi, but on the night of 31 May there is a surprise Spanish attack with more than two hundred dead.

10.1 June. The English reach Alvalade. Arms are distributed to the Portuguese infantry.

11.2–4 June. The English army reaches Lisbon. They are bombarded from the Saint George castle. Billeting in Lisbon. On 3 June there is a great attack of the besieged against the English barracks.

12.5 June. Night-time withdrawal by the army to Cascais, pursued by Spanish detachments. More than five hundred dead.

13.15 June. Arrival of the Adelantado of Castile with fifteen galleys and six fireships.

14.19–20 June. The English Armada sails on a westerly wind, the galleys set off in pursuit and sink or capture nine ships, a tender and a barge. The fleet is dispersed.

As dawn broke on Wednesday, 21 June 1589, it was clear that the English Armada was still in sight of land. While the first detachment of the fleet continued its slow voyage northwards, Drake was to spend that day sailing into the light onshore wind and tacking off the coast before reaching Cascais. For its part, the damaged Gregory, which was lost out at sea, struggled to sail northwards, while Fenner, who was even more lost and who had to endure a storm in the night, headed off to the islands of Madeira, which were relatively close by. These names make up for the anonymity of many other lost ships of which we know nothing further. Meanwhile, the fifteen caravels that had been made ready in Lisbon to come to the aid of the Azores were unable to set sail due to the calm seas and westerly winds. While all this was happening at sea, with the Duke of Aveiro remaining on full alert on land, the detachment of Guzmán and Bravo reached Torres Vedras, where they learned of the situation at Peniche from Martinho Soares.

Westerly winds continued to blow on 22 June, and nothing of significance changed at sea, although it did at Peniche. In fact, as Guzmán and Bravo’s detachment reached Lourinhã on their way there, they received

a report from a spy at Peniche that the enemy were trying to embark and take the artillery from the Tower. They all set off in haste towards Peniche, where they discovered some of the enemy already embarked on a small ship and a barge which were already in the water (and) about 40 of them got on board, while of those still on land they killed or captured almost 300.

Although English sources do not appear to confirm that there were any survivors apart from Captain Barton, there must have been some, for ‘although they were making haste, before they arrived they received news of the embarkation, and so spurring on their horses as much as they could they arrived with some two hundred yet to board and killed them or took them prisoner’. About two hundred, therefore, remained on land, and they were killed or captured together with others who were already on board. It is not known how many others managed to escape, but if disease had not taken too great a toll in the English garrison at Peniche, it could have been a sizeable number. What is clear is that, given the great urgency to prevent the men from getting on board, the only ones to arrive in time to prevent it were the cavalry. In any event, the haste to embark was such that ‘a chest full of papers belonging to Dom António was found, and amongst some important ones there was one written in his own hand that described everything that had happened to him from the time he had declared himself king to the day he arrived in this kingdom’. These papers would help to thwart Dom António’s plans once and for all.

Following this bloody encounter, the Iberians reclaimed the castle and its artillery. ‘In case any ships arrived, Pedro García’s company of Maestre de Campo Francisco de Toledo’s regiment, remained in the castle.’ With this new victory, ‘Don Pedro de Guzmán and Don Sancho Bravo, with their infantry and cavalry, returned to Lisbon with about 60 prisoners.’ The failure of the English expedition and the subsequent feeling of relief on the Iberian side loomed larger by the day.

As he had on previous days, Drake continued to sail close to the Portuguese coast during the morning of Friday, 23 June in order to make progress northwards and that is how the English Armada found itself off the coast at Peniche. He then sent in the rescue boats but, as fate would have it, the men who had been looking for such a sign of deliverance from the battlements of Peniche were no longer there. The ships – there were nine or ten of them – were kept at bay from Peniche by cannon fire and they returned to the fleet. Meanwhile, the English Armada was stretched out along the coast like the net of a fishing trawler or the Santa Compaña that by night seizes anyone that looks at it. Yet another merchant ship – a Hanseatic supply ship from Lübeck – fell into their clutches that day. But the extraordinary thing was that its captain was held on Drake’s Revenge until they reached Plymouth – perhaps because it was a ship captured at sea and to prevent any attempt to escape. Once he was back on the Peninsula, the captain, whose name was Juan Antonio Bigbaque, wrote a very interesting account of what happened.

That day a north-east wind got up after all the calms and westerlies and Drake set off for the open sea. That is when the fleet appeared to head for the Azores; as Hume put it: ‘After sailing ostensibly for the Azores, Drake turned back.’ But given the state of the fleet and the diverse nature of its composition, to attempt such a voyage of conquest seemed like an act of recklessness. Bigbaque, who witnessed the events, reported: ‘(Drake’s) principal objective was to end up in the Cíes Islands, but because the weather was so changeable from one day to the next, he decided to head for the island of Madeira. He sent barges to inform all the ships of the fleet, but later when the wind turned, he set course for Bayona and the Cíes Islands.’ With adverse winds for the return to England, with the coast on a war footing and swarming with galleys, with the great prize of merchant ships, and above all with the state of the fleet worsening rapidly and making it increasingly necessary to stop in order to recuperate, the Madeira Islands could be seen as an appropriate place for a stopover after six perilous and pointless days at sea. In any event, 23 June was the last day that the fleet was sighted from the vicinity of Lisbon and Peniche.

With the English Armada out to sea, the Spanish were suffering the same degree of uncertainty on Saturday, 24 June, as they had at the beginning of May: not knowing where a new landing by the English might take place. However, the situation was not the same, both on account of the drastic reduction in the power of the English fleet and the arrival of Philip’s troops in Portugal, including Juan del Águila’s infantry and Luis de Toledo’s cavalry. Hence Fuentes ordered that

as an attempt could be made between the Douro and Minho or in Galicia, it seemed advisable that the infantry and cavalry under Don Juan del Águila and Don Luis de Toledo should be accommodated in Coimbra and the surrounding area, for it is situated at the centre of the region and should the need arise they can reach any part of the area.

The Count also ordered that ‘in order for the billeting to be acceptable and convenient for the locals,’ everything should be done under the supervision of the Count of Portoalegre, and ‘they should be given excellent treatment there’.

On the same day, Fuentes sent two more caravels with men and supplies to reinforce the two that were tailing the English Armada. In addition, he began the recruitment of sailors for the new Armada that was being prepared for the following year. For his part, Alonso de Bazán, who had been called upon by the King for this new Armada, wrote to him on that day to say that with the invaders now definitely gone from Lisbon, he would travel to the Court immediately.

As for the English, it was on the Saturday that Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, more or less unwittingly rendered one last service to the expedition by providing Cerralbo with the same major headaches as he had suffered in May and in the process making the Vigo estuary more vulnerable. In fact, the first sighting of the first squadron of the English Armada occurred on that day in the Rías Altas, off the Costa de la Muerte. It included the favourite Devereux with many other nobles, a good number of English ships carrying the sick and the discharged Dutch vessels. This sighting created a counterproductive movement of Galician troops, for when Cerralbo thought that the English Armada was going to attack Corunna again, he ordered the three companies that were stationed in Pontevedra as reinforcements for Vigo and the Rías Bajas to return at once to Corunna. It would have been far better in this game of cat and mouse for these veteran soldiers to have remained in Pontevedra, for this would have spared them gruelling and futile marches across the Galician countryside that took them away from the place where the final attack by the English Armada would be unleashed shortly afterwards.

On Sunday, 25 June, the northerly winds and rough weather intensified. As night fell, Drake, who had sailed out to sea on 23 June, was sighted off Oporto. These facts suggest that Drake took advantage of the north-easterly wind on 23 June, sailed west-northwest at the start of what was to be a long tacking movement (that led some to think that he was heading for the Azores). At some point on 24 June, now at some distance from the coast and with the wind from the north, the tacking took them several miles out to sea. Following the change in direction and sailing into the wind as much as possible in order to get as far north as he could, he started a new tack, this time back towards the Portuguese coast. Finally, on 25 June, with the ships leaning hard to starboard, he completed the tack which took him to within five miles of Oporto. As far as the first squadron of the English Armada was concerned, it tacked using the northerly wind to reach Finisterre, while trying not to lose too much of the northern advance already made.

The northerly wind was still blowing on Monday, 26 June, and Drake was tacking gently off the north coast of Portugal between Vila do Conde and Esposende under the watchful eye of Pedro Bermúdez, commander of the military garrison in that sector. The first squadron of the fleet was doing the same off the Galician coast and was seen again that day from Finisterre. On the Spanish side, that was the day that the fifteen caravels at last set sail to reinforce the Azores. Meanwhile, the Gregory from London which, as mentioned earlier, had been hit by the guns from the galleys days before, ‘was not sailing as well as the rest’ and had got detached from the fleet, managed to join up with them again. According to Evesham’s account that was also the night when, in addition to the gradual dispersal of individual ships, the second squadron of the English Armada was in turn split in two. Evesham described how during the night Drake lit a beacon on the Revenge, which by daybreak had disappeared along with sixty ships.

On Tuesday, 27 June, the wind continued to blow, resulting in the virtual standstill of the English ships, which were becoming more and more spread out as they tried to sail into the wind off the Portuguese and Galician coasts. Tragically, they were being held back, with the vessels beginning to look more like mortuaries owing to the relentless increase in hunger, thirst, sickness and death.

By 28 June, most of the second squadron of the English Armada was close to the Portuguese–Galician border between Viana and Caminha. In fact, a number of ships showed signs of attempting to land on Ancora beach next to the river. But the same day the wind veered to the south, and so they were able to sail towards the estuaries which offered unparalleled respite for any ship exhausted from being at sea. However, they did not all anchor in Vigo as a number of them headed straight off to England. One of these was the Gregory, which headed north after abandoning a lost supply ship that it had come across and which decided to stay. Shortly afterwards, the Gregory came across another ship on its own, the Bark Bonner from Plymouth, and they decided to keep each other company on the tough voyage that awaited them on their homeward journey.

But on 29 June Drake finally managed to drop anchor off Vigo and, throughout that day, a large number of ships came to join him there. In conclusion, Drake had the wind in his favour to head for the Azores and against him to return to England. But what he wanted was to go home and, from setting sail from Cascais on 18 June until a southerly wind got up on 28 June, he had tacked against the wind in order to make some headway north. And during that time, disease and hunger began to seriously ravage the fleet.

The Knight of the Black Eagle

Titian‘s Equestrian Portrait of Charles I of Spain and V of the Holy Roman Empire (1548) celebrates Charles’ victory at Mühlberg
“Battle of Mühlberg, 1547”, Ángel García Pinto

If there is no way to avoid an engagement before I arrive, I cannot enjoin you too strongly to inform me post haste.


War marked Europe in the late 1540s. It was the first time that a major European war had been fought in Germany. On the one side was a Catholic emperor standing not only for the unity of Christendom but for universal Christian power and, on the other, the Protestant states articulating special particularism. Charles, now a widower and usually melancholy in time of peace, was happy to be in an army again: “There goes the happiest man in the world,” his brother Ferdinand’s ambassador Martín de Salinas had written in 1536 about Charles and the war in Provence. (It was Salinas who ensured that Ferdinand received so much information about the Indies.)

On June 26, 1546, the Farnese pope, Paul III, signed a treaty agreeing to support Charles against the Protestants. But France and England on June 6 had concluded a treaty at Guînes, in the Pas de Calais, then, of course, an English possession, which freed them both from obligations to Charles. On July 26, an army of Protestant princes reached the Danube and threatened to cut off Charles, who, in his litter, marched to the river Inn, and on August 13, joined with papal troops. Next day, the Protestant Schmalkaldic League formally challenged him, sending him a herald in the traditional manner. Charles assembled his army of thirty thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry. He then amalgamated these forces with those of the Dutch count Egmont, who had five thousand cavalry. The first battle was on August 31 at Ingolstadt, Charles taking part at the head of his men, supported by Alba and Egmont. Through his victory there, Charles won control of south Germany by the end of 1546. This was the victory of Alba, then at his best as a commander.

At Christmas 1546, Charles was at Heilbronn in Württemberg. He was then weary, having slept in forty different places since August. Next spring, in April—supported by his brother, Ferdinand, with his son Maximilian, and by the treacherous Maurice of Saxony—he defeated the elector John Frederick of Saxony at Mühlberg, near Leipzig, on the Elbe. Charles commented “Vine, vi y Dios conquistó.” John Frederick was not aware that Charles could cross the Elbe at Mühlberg. Alba brought the elector as a prisoner to Charles, who treated him scornfully. The Emperor then continued north to Wittenberg, the scene of Luther’s first challenge, which John Frederick surrendered on June 4 to avoid a siege. This marked Charles’s greatest triumph and enabled him to summon a diet at Augsburg. The Battle of Mühlberg is known as the occasion for Titian’s masterpiece; it is a unique example of a great victory inspiring a great picture.

Early in 1548, Charles wrote to his son and regent, Philip, who was then just twenty-one: “Seeing that human affairs are beset with doubt, I can give you no general rules save to trust in God. You will show this by defending the faith … I have come to the conclusion that a general council [of the Church] is the only way ahead … Peace will depend not so much on your actions as on those of others. It will be a difficult task for you to preserve it, seeing that God has bestowed so many great kingdoms and principalities on you … You know yourself how unreliable Pope Paul III [Farnese] is in all his treaties, how, sadly, he lacks all [real] zeal for Christendom, and how badly he has acted in this affair of the council [of the Church] above all. Nevertheless, honour his position. He is old [he had been born in 1468, so he was eighty]. Therefore, take careful heed to the instructions which I have given my ambassador [the clever Diego Hurtado de Mendoza] in case of a [papal] election … France has never kept faith and has always sought to do me harm … Never yield to them so much as an inch … Defend Milan with good artillery, Naples with a good fleet. Remember that the French are always discouraged if they do not succeed immediately in anything which they undertake. The Neapolitans, remember, are much given to revolt. Let them be constantly reminded how the French once sacked their city … You can never manage without Spanish troops in Italy … To preserve peace, I have allowed my demands for our ancient hereditary land, for the duchy of Burgundy, to lapse. But do not altogether forget your rights there … And do not at any time be persuaded to renounce Piedmont.”

It was an emperor who wrote and one who did not forget his more remote possessions. For he went on to advise Philip to keep a watch over his fleet. It was his best defense against pirates in the Mediterranean, and it would also keep the French from interfering in the Indies. Philip should cultivate Portugal for the same reason: “Do not cease to keep yourself well informed of the state of those distant lands, for the honour of God and the care of justice. Combat the abuses which have risen in them.” Charles also urged Philip to marry again soon, since he would need more children. (His first wife, María, had died.) He suggested Elizabeth of Valois, daughter of the new king Henry of France, or Jeanne d’Albret, daughter of King Henry of Navarre, who was “very attractive and clever.”

“And as for the Indies, take care to keep a good watch to see if the French want to send an armada there, dissimulating or otherwise, and ensuring that the governors of those parts keep a good look out so that, when it is necessary, they can resist the said French; … and you should establish good intelligence with Portugal … And as for the division of the Indians, about which there have been so many conflicting reports and advice, we have even consulted Don Antonio de Mendoza, the Viceroy of New Spain, so as to be properly informed.”

The princely recipient of this letter was, however, himself now on the move. Though quite unconvinced of the need to travel as his father had done, or in the same restless fashion, he had decided to visit his future dominions in the north of Europe. On October 2, 1548, Philip left Valladolid, ignoring the determined opposition of the cortes to such a journey. With him there were the Duke of Alba, both his and his father’s chief military adviser; Ruy Gómez da Silva, the future prince of Eboli, a Portuguese courtier who would become in effect a chief minister; his longtime secretary, Gonzalo Pérez; Honorat Juan, who had been his tutor in mathematics; the clever and original Fray Constantino Ponce de la Fuente; and Juan Cristóbal Calvete de Estrella, the Prince’s learned majordomo, who would write an account of the journey. There were also the musician Luis Narváez and the blind composer Antonio de Cabezón. Vicente Álvarez, the steward, would write an account. They were a strange gathering: Alba represented the hereditary nobility, Silva the noblesse de robe; Honorat Juan was a learned preceptor of the Prince from the Borgias’ town of Játiva; Ponce de la Fuente was Christophorus Fontanus, an Erasmian preacher, a converso, and one who as a result would die in prison; and Calvete was Philip’s teacher in Latin and Greek, who wrote a fine account of La Gasca’s triumph over Gonzalo Pizarro.

The Prince’s court spent three nights at Montserrat; they stayed at Barcelona with Estefanía de Requessens, widow of Juan de Zúñiga and a foster mother to Philip, and subsequently went to Rosas, in the Ampurdán, where on November 2, 1548, they boarded a vessel in a fleet of fifty-eight galleys commanded by the unconquered Andrea Doria. Then they set off for Genoa, stopping at Cadaqués, Collioure, Perpignan, Aigues-Mortes (where they waited six days because of the wind), Hyères, Savona, and then Genoa itself (on November 25), where Philip was put up by Doria in his palace for sixteen days.

At Savona, Columbus’s father’s town, the Regent was introduced to the famous bankers Lomellini, Pallavicino, and Grillo—all of whom, or their families, were to become important in the Indies. On December 19, Philip left Genoa for Milan, of which he was already the duke. He was there nineteen days, a time filled with balls, theaters, tournaments, banquets, and local tours, and there he met the painter Titian for the first time. He set off for the Catholic Church’s congress at Trent, where he was welcomed by the elector Maurice of Saxony (his father’s ally, though a Lutheran) and the cardinals of Augsburg and Trent. The council of the Church had actually gone to Bologna because of plague in Trent. Then, after five more days of celebrations, Philip and his party set off for the Netherlands via Bolzano and Innsbruck. This journey lasted six months. It was a serious education. It was the first time he had visited his northern European dominions.

By February 13, 1549, the princely party was in Munich, with its clean streets and small houses; there was much hunting, and many dinners and picnics. Then at Augsburg they visited the all-important Fuggers. At Ulm, there was a joust on the Danube. At Vaihingen, they were greeted by Prince Albert of Hohenzollern, who escorted them to Heidelberg, a Catholic enclave in a Protestant valley, where the Prince had four days of hunting, picnicking, dancing, and drinking. Then the expedition went on to Speyer, Luxembourg, Namur, and finally Brussels, where the Prince was greeted by his aunt, the Regent María. There followed a formal reunion with the emperor Charles at the royal palace.

Charles—though, as usual in those days, ill—held many celebrations, balls, hunting parties, and tournaments in honor of Philip. The Spanish Prince met all the grandees of the Low Countries, such as the Prince of Orange and Count Egmont, both fatally associated with him later in life. On July 12, Charles and his son went on a tour of the Netherlands, which lasted till the end of October. There was a formal swearing in of Philip as the heir to the throne, and also a celebration at the beautiful palace of Binche, between Charleroi and Mons, at the end of August 1549. At Binche, Philip saw The Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden, which he had copied by Michel Coxcie and which he bought many years later. Probably he bought other Flemish paintings at this time, including several by Bosch and the popular landscapist Joachim Patinir.

Queen Mary of Hungary had in 1540 held a carnival to honor the Spanish conquest of Peru. But there was now a new chivalric feast in 1549 at Binche, with performances based on the novel Amadís de Gaula, characterized by a storming of magic castles and liberation of prisoners. At a later stage in the “chivalrous entertainment,” knight after knight failed to defeat a certain “knight of the black eagle,” and they were imprisoned in a “dark castle” till a new, unknown gentleman, who called himself Beltenbrós (the name adopted by Amadís during his amorous penance), defeated his adversary and, by drawing forth an enchanted sword from a stone, revealed that he was the knight for whom this adventure was reserved. This unknown, of course, turned out to be Philip.

In September, there were organized for Philip two celebratory processions entering cities: first Antwerp, then Rotterdam.

Next year, 1550, with Philip still in the Netherlands, there were further celebrations. Thus there was a carnival in February at Brussels. Three famous Spanish preachers covered themselves with glory by pronouncing sermons. This was the last night that Philip spent in Brussels: “That night His Highness did not go to bed. He stayed in the main square conversing with the ladies as they sat at their windows. A few gentlemen, young and even some old, accompanied him. The talk was of love, stories were told, there were tears, sighs, laughter, jests. There was dancing in the moonlight to the sound of orchestras which played all night.” These were happy days, which were never to recur for Philip in the Low Countries.

An expedition including Charles as well as Philip then went by boat to Louvain, Aachen, Cologne, and Bonn, on the Rhine, though stopping at night on land. They went, too, to Mainz, Worms, Speyer, and Augsburg. In the last named, the imperial Diet met in July 1550. Here or nearby in southern Germany, Philip spent a year. There he commissioned Titian’s famous Poesie, as well as a portrait of himself by the same Italian master.

There was discussion, too, at Augsburg about the future inheritance of Philip. Charles hoped to leave his son everything, in a last fling of his desire to maintain a Habsburg union, a single constitution, a single confession, and a single ruler. But his patient brother, Ferdinand, the king of the Romans, wanted the imperial throne. Ferdinand’s son Maximilian came from Spain, where he was co-regent, to argue his case. Ferdinand and Charles disputed in public. Eventually, in March 1551, a formal agreement (drafted by the adroit Granvelle) between Charles and Ferdinand arranged that, after the former’s death, the latter would be emperor, while Philip would be elected King of the Romans and be emperor after Ferdinand. He would make a similar arrangement in Spain for his cousin Maximilian. Thus European power would remain in the hands of the Habsburgs, though it was not quite evident which line it would be.

In July of this same year, Charles wrote to both the young Maximilian and his wife, María, in their capacities as regents of Spain, about the most important matter on his mind: “The fleet which goes for the gold and silver of Peru will set off, we don’t know when but we do know that any delay at all is very damaging … The people of the Council of Finance write about their problems and costs and what they have to provide this year, taking into account that, in addition to the 200,000 ducats which we permit ourselves to take from the gold and silver of Peru, another 500,000 will be needed for the settling of various other liabilities.”

Another letter of this same time dealt with the idea of contracting with the great admiral of Spain Álvaro de Bazan to guard the merchant fleets sent to the New World.

Charles was again talking of gold from the Indies before the end of the year: Thus, on December 30, 1550, he wrote from Augsburg, “La Gasca had brought 200,000 ducats from Peru, of which we will avail ourselves this year. There will be 85,000 ducats which will be remitted and have to be balanced against the fact that costs will amount to 91,716 ducats and another 60,000 ducats which, with interest, will add up to 84,200 ducats and the last slice of 20,000 ducats which, with interest, will make 20,800 ducats which altogether would mean that, from the gold and silver of Peru, we would make either 376,000 or 403,570 ducats.” Charles’s interest in money was as eternal as his incapacity with dealing with it.

In fact, between 1551 and 1555, the Spanish Crown imported from the Indies more than three and a half million pesos and private people imported more than 6 million. Charles, the mirror of chivalry and the inheritor of the great Burgundian traditions, spent hours puzzling over these figures and sums.

On May 25, 1551, Philip at last left Augsburg for Spain, traveling back via Mantua (where La Gasca explained to him in detail what had befallen him in Peru, with its 346 rich encomenderos and about eight thousand colonists). Philip went on to Barcelona, where he arrived on July 12 and as usual stayed with the widow Estefanía de Requessens. He left Barcelona only on July 31 and set off for Saragossa, Tudela, Soria, and Valladolid, his birthplace and de facto capital, which he reached on September 1. No Spanish king had spent so much time abroad, no Spanish monarch would ever know so much of the way of living in other countries, no ruler of Spain was so well prepared to be an international emperor.

On June 23, 1551, the emperor Charles sent general instructions to Philip for the government of the Indies. These included: “That you examine all the offices which become free in the Indies in a spirit of justice, alongside the president and council of that enterprise, except for those in the Casa de la Contratación, the Viceroyalties, the presidents of the audiencias and the office of fundidor and inspector of forges, as well as the other principal governors I would reserve for myself … All the other dignities and benefits should be guaranteed by the Prince.” These declarations read like statements in the Emperor’s will.

In July, Charles wrote more optimistically from Augsburg: “By letter from Seville on the 12th last, I have gathered that the fleet of the Indies has arrived in Sanlúcar with the galleons coming from all parts [that is, Peru, New Spain, the other Indies, and the islands], and everything on board has been unloaded.”

Philip wrote back on November 24, 1551: “And inasmuch as we are talking of the Indies, they say that the latest reports which have been sent are satisfactory and that, from the treasure brought from Peru by the bishop of Palencia [La Gasca], there remains to be taken to Barcelona only 130,000 ducats. And in respect of the other amount from the Indies, that is from Tierra Firme [Venezuela and Colombia], New Spain and Honduras, they say that only 80,765 ducats have yet to be delivered.” The letter went into much detail as to how the money from the Indies should be spent. In December, Philip wrote again, from Madrid: “What would be really sensible would be to establish a fleet to guard the coast of Andalusia, from cape Saint Vincent to the straits of Gibraltar, to ensure the safety of the vessels which go to and come from the Indies which is now the main route of the merchants in Seville and Andalusia and where damage can be done by the French. And this fleet could be paid for by a grant which Your Majesty could make and be financed by a tax which could be levied on all merchandise coming from the Indies.”

The naval fleet of ships named to protect the merchant ships was always exposed to illegal or even corrupt practice. Thus as much as a quarter of the galleons were carrying goods that overweighed them. The captains of these ships argued that they were rendering their vessels unfit for fighting. But these critics were told that so long as the gundecks were free, a cargo in the hold made the ships steadier. The curious part of this story was that the captains carried their illegal cargoes above decks, where they could easily be seen. Captains sometimes made 100,000 pesos from this illegal freight and more from the sale of offices on their ships to merchants.

In early 1552, Philip was at Madrid, and La Gasca, the victor of Peru, who was becoming an imperial adviser of the first rank, was with the princess María at Linz negotiating for Ferdinand with Prince Maurice of Saxony. Charles’s brother, Ferdinand, continued to show concern for the Indies, putting many questions to La Gasca, who received as a present from Ferdinand eight plates richly worked; and Gasca bought a triptych to give to the church of El Barco de Ávila, very close to his birthplace.

Charles, despite his triumph at Mühlberg, did not escape further difficulties—on the contrary. He passed the winter of 1551–52 at Innsbruck, the great city associated with his grandfather Maximilian. In the spring of 1552, he heard that the Protestant Princes, outraged by the Emperor’s treatment of their colleagues, would receive the backing of the new king Henry of France, who, with Maurice of Saxony, was ready to fall on the fortresses of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. Charles was on the point of becoming a prisoner. On March 3, 1552, Charles sent a chamberlain, Joachim de Rye, Sieur de Balançon, with instructions to his brother, begging him to try to persuade the Princes to seek peace because the Turkish peril was surely far more grave. But Maurice of Saxony (now known in imperial circles as the “kinglet”) nevertheless sent his army against Charles, and on May 23 entered Innsbruck. Charles and what there was of the court only escaped by fleeing south across the Brenner Pass into Italy in driving rain. La Gasca, the Peruvian veteran, was, remarkably, with his master in this crisis.

Charles was now at war with France on every front, and in April, Metz was seized by the constable of France, the brilliant and powerful friend of the late King Francis I, Anne de Montmorency. Metz was a city proud of being a Free Imperial City but it was free within the Holy Roman Empire just as if it were a state. Francis, duke of Guise (Le Balafré) as governor ruthlessly pulled down the suburbs and even moved the body of King Louis the Pious from Saint Arnulf’s, outside the walls, to the cathedral of Saint-Etienne, within the city. Only in the autumn did troops come from Spain, which enabled the Emperor in person to besiege Guise in Metz; but the duke was a brilliant defender in a siege, and Charles failed to recapture the place.

Philip wanted to help his father. He wrote in May from Madrid: “I have no information about the news that Peru has sent to Panama and Nombre de Dios over 335,000 pesos.” He wrote again in June, saying that he was anxious to ensure that the Spaniards who came back from the Spice Islands would be well received: “Let them be good informers about the state of those islands.” Then in July, the Casa de la Contratación reported that the treasure brought back by La Gasca amounted to 1,906,082 escudos. Of these, 600,000 would be sent to Germany, 400,000 to the Low Countries, 200,000 to Parma, and only 200,000 to Castile, while 100,000 would be a loan to the pope.

Given the increased reliance of the Spanish Crown on its income from the Indies, the Casa de la Contratación now received new rules of conduct, following the similar reorganization that we have seen of the Council of the Indies. The headquarters would still be in Seville, but there would be a daily Mass and fixed hours of work. Functionaries who did not attend would be fined. They would have to live in the Casa and take an oath on introduction. The discussions in the afternoons would deal with licenses to go to the Indies. Votes would be by a simple majority. Grave disputes would be referred to the Council of the Indies. Sections 27 to 30 of the new rules forbade officials to receive gifts for any services or to do anything commercial in the Indies. Sections 121 to 126 listed those people forbidden to go to the Indies—Moors, new Christians (conversos), and descendants of those punished by the Inquisition—and also merchandise that was similarly prohibited, which would include “profane books and stories, books whose contents are untruthful,” with the only books permitted being those that dealt with Christianity and virtue. There was a specific decree repeating the banning of the import of romances into the New World; it was still thought that Indians might doubt the scriptures if they realized that these books were fictional. But this law had little effect.

Scientific books were not banned, but the Council of the Indies wanted strict censorship of both historical and geographical works dealing with the Indies. Sections 144 to the end of the rules of conduct dealt with how ships should sail to the Indies. Two-thirds of the water that was carried should be in well-prepared casks. The rest could go in clay pots or vats or pitchers, which were less good than casks since they sometimes broke and water was wasted.

These rules were signed in August 1552 by Philip and then were widely distributed to colonial officials, a copy being placed on every ship.

On October 7, 1552, Philip wrote to his father from Monzón, where he was attending the cortes of Aragon, to say that, in respect of paying the expenses that he had previously listed, “the principal recourse for those necessities is the Indies.”

We find Charles replying, from Metz, no less, “Insofar as the perpetuity of the encomiendas is concerned, we think that this is not the time to treat of that … All the same, we think that we have done well by arranging a contract with Hernán Ochoa for the sale of 23,000 African slaves for the Indies.”

On November 12, 1553, Philip wrote again to the emperor Charles that every year more corsairs sailed out of France intending to sack Spanish imperial ports. In the previous July, they had destroyed La Palma, in the Canaries. Yet, had it not been for the sums that now regularly reached Castile from the Indies, Spain would probably have had to abandon northern Europe.

In Spain, Hernando Pizarro, the eloquent victor of Cuzco, seemed a reproach to all. He had been condemned for the illegal execution of Almagro. He was first ordered to be sent to a prison colony in North Africa. That sentence was commuted and Hernando found himself confined in a fortress in Madrid. Finally, he was sent in June 1543 to the Castillo de la Mota, just outside Medina del Campo, city of imagination (Bernal Díaz del Castillo) and of fantasy (Amadís de Gaula). Hernando reached there in June 1543, and he remained there till May 1561. He lived comfortably, but confined all the same. At first, he lived with Isabel Mercado of Medina del Campo. Then in 1552, he married his niece, the daughter of his brother Francisco Pizarro, Francisca, who was then aged seventeen. The idea of such a marriage to Francisca had occurred at one time to Gonzalo Pizarro.

Hernando, once married to such a very rich girl as his niece, devoted his time to centralizing the management of his family’s estates in Peru, part of which had been managed by royal officials after the final defeat of Gonzalo. When eventually Hernando and Francisca left La Mota, free, in 1561, they went to live at La Zarza. That village outside Trujillo had always belonged to the Pizarro family, of which Hernando was now the head. They embarked there on “a strategy of reconstruction of their finances” and built a new palace in the main square of Trujillo (which still survives). They lived in the shadow of the coat of arms granted to Francisco Pizarro. They had also inherited Francisco’s marquessate, which, from 1576, was named as “of the Conquest.” Hernando died two years later, a survivor of extraordinary deeds into what seemed a calmer age. Francisca lived until 1598, having married again to Pedro Arias Portocarrero, son of the count of Puñonrostro.

Hernando’s fortune was large. In about 1550, it was almost as big as that of the family of Cortés—32,000 pesos a year, in comparison with the family of Cortés’s 36,800. Nor does this figure for Hernando’s income include the product of his mercantile adventures and mines. In the end, Hernando gained control of most of the estate (including the Porco mines) that the Pizarro brothers had acquired during the conquest.

When Allah met Odin I

At about the same time as Harald Bluetooth was erecting his great monument to Viking Christianity at Jelling, and the Wessex dynasty was completing the first unification of England with the expulsion of Harald’s brother-in-law Erik Bloodaxe from York, seafaring Vikings of the old-fashioned sort (Erik perhaps among them) were making, after an interval of almost a century, a second series of violent investigations of the territory and peoples of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain and Portugal), and the northern and western shores of Africa.

Muslim civilization had grown dramatically since the founding of the religion in Mecca in about 610 and Mohammed’s emigration to Medina in 622. The territorial and cultural expansion eastward and westward during the period of the Umayyad caliphs in the eighth century created an empire that extended from the borders of China to the Atlantic Ocean, from the Sahara to the Caspian Sea, from India to al-Andalus. With the rise to power of the Abbasid caliphs in the middle of the eighth century, the capital of the Islamic empire moved east, from Damascus to Baghdad. A dramatic rise in interest in Hellenistic and Persian culture followed, and the writing of local, Arab-nationalist literature that had characterized the Umayyad period was replaced by a universal literature. Much of it was scientific. As well as mathematics and cosmography, it reflected a vivid interest in the history and geography of the many peoples with whom the expansion of the seventh and eighth centuries had brought the Arabs into contact. The postal service of the Islamic empire assumed an important role in this trend, facilitating communication and knowledge of the routes and roads that bound the far-flung and disparate parts of the vast empire together; its head of staff was a leading political figure who was also chief of the security service. Books written initially for the purpose of describing the routes connecting the empire presently evolved into textbooks that nurtured an abstract interest in the history and geography of the peoples of the world, and most of what we know of the encounters between Vikings and Arabs in the territories bordering on the east and west of the Muslim empire is derived from books written in this spirit of enlightenment.

In the east, the Arab geographers and historians used the term ar-Rus for the Scandinavians they met in Russia and the surrounding regions; those in Spain and western Europe used the term al-madjus. The term al-madjus was not coined for the Vikings but was applied to them by Arab scholars in the belief that they were fire-worshippers, like the Persian Zoroastrians, whom they erroneously believed to practise cremation of the dead. ‘Their religion is that of the Magi,’ wrote the late thirteenth-century historian Al-Watwat, ‘and they burn their dead with fire.’ Ibn Said, a thirteenth-century geographer and traveller, offered a persuasive logic when he explained the worship of fire among northern peoples by the fact that ‘nothing seems more important to them than fire, for the cold in their lands is severe’. Al-madjus derives from Old Persian magush, which is also the etymological root of the Spanish word mago meaning ‘wizard’ or ‘astrologer’, and of the English word ‘magician’. It is familiar in Christian culture from the story of the three wise men, or magi, who travelled to Bethlehem to hail the birth of the infant Christ. The Vikings were also known as Lordomani and Lormanes in western Latin and Spanish sources. From the earliest times, Arab scholars were aware of the fact that they were dealing with the same people, whether they encountered them east of the Baltic, on Spain’s Atlantic coast, or in the Mediterranean: a geographical study written in 889 by al-Yaqubi refers to the Viking attack on Seville in 844 as ‘by the Magus, who are called the Rus’.

This raid on Seville is generally regarded as announcing the start of the Iberian Viking Age, although the Scandinavian arabist Arne Melvinger noted that Ibn al-Atir, the thirteenth-century historian, used the term al-madjus to identify a force that came to the aid of Alphonse II, king of Galicia, during his campaign against the Arabs in 795. Based on this, Melvinger went on to contemplate the possibility of a Viking presence on the peninsula a full half-century prior to this. He accordingly found it less easy than other commentators have done to dismiss, as poetic licence or simple factual error, Notker the Stammerer’s description of Charlemagne’s distress as the emperor sat at supper in an unnamed coastal town in Narbonensian Gaul and watched a small fleet of longships carrying out a raid on the harbour, for he was able to suggest a possible connection between Notker’s Vikings and the al-madjus who fought for Alphonse II in 795. The Arab military actions against Bayonne in 814, and in 823 and 825 in the Mundaka–Guernica fjord area of what is now Biscay, have all been related to the possible presence of al-madjus bases in these areas. These al-madjus can hardly have been Persian Zoroastrians, but the persistent use by Arab writers of the same term to denote both groups makes certain identification impossible. An objection to the argument for a Viking presence on the peninsula at such an early date is that they had almost certainly not yet established themselves sufficiently in either Ireland or western Francia, the natural staging-posts such bases would seem to require for the undertaking to be logistically credible. There is also the view of a school of Basque historians who posit a late conversion to Christianity in the Vascony area, and take all references to al-madjus in the Arab histories of raids and battles of the ninth and tenth centuries to be to Heathen Basques rather than Vikings.

As a development of the large-scale penetration by river of the northern territories of the Frankish empire, the first serious Viking attack on the Iberian peninsula in 844 came from a fleet that had navigated its way up the Garonne as far as Toulouse before retracing its route and heading south into the Bay of Biscay, following the coastline west past the tiny kingdoms of Asturia, Cantabria and Galicia that divided Christian Europe from Muslim Spain, raiding in Gijon and La Coruña on the way before being met and heavily defeated by Asturian forces under King Ramiro I. Many longships were lost in the attack and the fleet retreated to Aquitaine (or, if we allow the possibility, to a base in Bayonne).

A few months later a fleet of eighty longships, with square brown sails that ‘covered the sea like dark birds’, appeared off Lisbon, in the estuary of the Tagus, and over a thirteen-day period engaged in three sea-battles with local ships before heading further south. The harbour at Cadiz was occupied, and while one group made its way inland to Medina-Sidonia, the main body of the fleet sailed up the Guadalquivir into the very heartland of al-Andalus and established a base on an island not far from Seville. The city was taken, seemingly without resistance, for most of the inhabitants had fled to Carmona or up into the mountains north of Seville, and for some two weeks the city was in Viking hands. With the banks of the great river a noted centre for the breeding of horses they were able to range far and wide across the region in their plundering. As other ships arrived to join the occupying force, those occupants who had not managed to flee were massacred. Others – women and children – were taken captive. It seems the sheer unexpectedness of the raid on Seville astounded the authorities in the capital of Cordova, for it was some time before the emir Abd al-Rahman II thought to order the army out against them. With the help of catapult-machines the army drove the Vikings out of the city and some 500 of them were killed. Four Viking ships were captured intact.

In the middle of November the Vikings were again defeated, again with heavy loss of life. Thirty longships were burnt, and the corpses of Viking captives hung from the palm trees of Seville and Talyata. In symbolic triumph, the heads of the expedition leader and 200 of his men were sent to the Berber emir in Tangier. What remained of the fleet made its way back north up the coast. Abd al-Rahman II’s response to the dreadful novelty of these raids from the sea was to build a number of warships of his own and to establish a chain of lookout posts along the Atlantic coast. Seville was restored, its defences strengthened and an arsenal established.

There is no record of any further Viking activity in the region until the arrival in 859 of a second fleet of sixty Viking ships. Two that were sailing in advance were spotted and captured off the coast of the Algarve, complete with their cargo of booty and slaves. The rest sailed on, passing the Guadalquivir, which was now too well guarded to force, and making land at Algeciras, where they burnt down the mosque. Resuming their voyage, probably with the intention of entering the Straits of Gibraltar, they were driven by bad weather down the Atlantic coast of Morocco as far as Asilah. Making their way back to the Straits they entered the Mediterranean and followed the coast of North Africa as far as Nakur, a town identified as modern Nador, near what is now the small Spanish enclave of Melilla. Over the course of the next eight days they raided the beaches for slaves. This fleet was probably the same one that then went on to raid in the Balearic Islands of Formentera, Majorca and Minorca, landed at Rosellon near present-day Perpignan, plundered and burnt the monastery on the banks of the river Ter and even reached the north Italian city of Luna (now Lucca). Returning along the coast of al-Andalus, they attacked Pamplona and captured García, king of Navarra, whom they ransomed for 70,000 gold coins. A long and well-established Viking Age tradition holds that the leaders of this expedition were Hasting (aka Anstign, aka Hastein, aka Astignus) and Bjørn Ironside.

The attack on Luna was made, according to Dudo, because Hasting erroneously believed it to be Rome and was unable to resist the lure of an assault on the very heart of institutionalized Christianity. Feigning contrition for his evil ways, Hasting contacted local Christian leaders and allowed himself to be baptized. Returning to his men he outlined the plan: they were to pretend he had died and request permission for his body to receive a Christian burial within the city. Once inside the walls, it was a simple matter for him to leap from the coffin and lead his men in a massacre of the innocents of the city. Luna was certainly plundered; but the tactics used to gain entry to the city are less certain, and the ruse of ‘playing dead’ was a familiar example of Viking and Norman cunning that was also attributed to other heroes of the age, including the legendary Danish King Frodo, Robert Guiscard, the eleventh-century Norman duke of Apulia, and the eleventh-century king of Norway, Harald Hardrada.

As a postscript to this first round of ninth-century Viking raids on the Iberian peninsula and beyond, the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland for 867 offer a dramatized account of the background to the Africa campaign which ingeniously relates it to the arrival of the Great Heathen Army in England, and again emphasizes the role of slave-taking and slave-trading in such enterprises:

At this time came the Aunites (that is, the Danes) with innumerable armies to York, and they sacked the city, and they overcame it; and that was the beginning of harassment and misfortunes for the Britons; for it was not long before this that there had been every war and every trouble in Norway, and this was the source of that war in Norway: two younger sons of Albdan (Halfdan), king of Norway, drove out the eldest son, i.e. Ragnall son of Albdan, for fear that he would seize the kingship of Norway after their father. So Ragnall came with his three sons to the Orkneys. Ragnall stayed there then, with his youngest son. The older sons, however, filled with arrogance and rashness, proceeded with a large army, having mustered that army from all quarters, to march against the Franks and Saxons. They thought that their father would return to Norway immediately after their departure.

Then their arrogance and their youthfulness incited them to voyage across the Cantabrian Ocean and they reached Spain, and they did many evil things in Spain, both destroying and plundering. After that they proceeded across the Gaditanean Straits, so that they reached Africa, and they waged war against the Mauritanians, and made a great slaughter of the Mauritanians. However, as they were going to this battle, one of the sons said to the other, ‘Brother,’ he said, ‘we are very foolish and mad to be killing ourselves going from country to country throughout the world, and not to be defending our own patrimony, and doing the will of our father, for he is alone now, sad and discouraged in a land not his own, since the other son whom we left along with him has been slain, as has been revealed to me.’ It would seem that that was revealed to him in a dream vision; and his other son was slain in battle; and moreover, the father himself barely escaped from that battle—which dream proved to be true.

While he was saying that, they saw the Mauritanian forces coming towards them, and when the son who spoke the above words saw that, he leaped suddenly into the battle, and attacked the king of the Mauritanians, and gave him a blow with a great sword and cut off his hand. There was hard fighting on both sides in this battle, and neither of them won the victory from the other in that battle. But all returned to camp, after many among them had been slain. However, they challenged each other to come to battle the next day. The king of the Mauritanians escaped from the camp and fled in the night after his hand had been cut off. When the morning came, the Norwegians seized their weapons and readied themselves firmly and bravely for the battle. The Mauritanians, however, when they noticed that their king had departed, fled after they had been terribly slain.

Thereupon the Norwegians swept across the country, and they devastated and burned the whole land. Then they brought a great host of them captive with them to Ireland. For Mauri is the same as nigri; ‘Mauritania’ is the same as nigritudo. Now those black men remained in Ireland for a long time.

The Arabic records that tell of the third series of Viking raids on the peninsula that began in June 966 sound a weary and frightened echo of the responses of Anglo-Saxon and Frankish chroniclers at their reappearance, and at the predictably violent nature of their errand. The experiences of previous encounters over 100 years earlier had etched itself on the communal memory. The thirteenth-century Moroccan scholar Ibn al-Idari wrote of the response to the sighting of a fleet of twenty-eight ships off the coast of what is now Alcacer do Sal, in the province of Alentejo, just south of Lisbon, ‘that the people of the region were very alarmed, because in former times al-magus had been in the habit of attacking al-Andalus’. Descriptions of the size of the fleets, their movements and doings have the same fearful precision of the western chroniclers, and their sentences are punctuated in the same way by outbursts of pious despair: ‘May Allah destroy them!’ Ibn al-Idari cries out, in the middle of a tale of how the caliph, al-Hakam, hit upon a plan of disguising some ships in his own fleet as longships, in the hope that they would function as decoys and lure the Vikings into the Guadalquivir harbour.

The nucleus of this Viking fleet was the large remainder of an army of Danish Vikings which had arrived in the duchy of Normandy early in the 960s at the request of Duke Richard I to give him military assistance in a regional conflict. Some returned home once the business was settled; some accepted Richard’s offer of land in return for baptism; the remainder set off raiding in Galicia and Leon in the north-west of Spain, even-handedly attacking both Christian and Muslim targets along the way. After encountering some resistance, they were joined in 968 by a fleet of 100 ships under a leader known to the Muslims as Gunderedo and threatened the Galician town of Santiago de Compostela, by this time a place of pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Joseph (Jakob) and, as a result, a very wealthy town. They landed at the head of the Arousa inlet and, while the bishop of Compostela tried to organize resistance, spread terror through the region, burning down buildings, killing and thieving. When at length the bishop arrived at the head of an armed force they withdrew to a place called Fornelos. In a later engagement, the bishop was killed by an arrow and the demoralized Galician troops fled the field of battle and left the people to the mercies of the Vikings. For the next three years they remained a dominant and terrifying presence in the area. Why this dominance in Galicia did not translate into formal possession is not clear; but the last recorded raid in this particular series was an overland advance in June 972 to the Algarve by a Viking army.

A fourth and final wave of Viking attacks that lasted from 1008 to 1038 was notable for the involvement of Olav Haraldson, a future king of Norway, whose redemptive career as a crusader among his own people we shall consider later. The raids were concentrated in the south-west of Galicia. In the most notorious of them, the Vikings sailed up the Miño river to the town of Tui, which they burnt and destroyed. Bishop Don Alfonso was captured, along with a great number of other Christian officials, presumably for ransom, though the records do not say so. Olav’s court poets, Sigvat and Ottar the Black, both refer to their master’s adventures in Spain. The fact that Snorri does not do so in his Saga of St Olav may be a discretionary omission by a Christian author who was self-consciously writing a hagiography in which such details had no place. Twenty years later the Vikings were back in Galicia, briefly this time but apparently again successfully, for their commander made himself a name there and was remembered as ‘the Galician Wolf’.


From the surrender of Lerida until 1710, there were not any more large- scale military actions on the Eastern Peninsular front, because the Bourbon army was not able to launch major campaigns against Catalonia, given its precarious situation on the other fronts that had to be defended. However, in 1710 Philip’s troops began a campaign, this time aimed at definitely conquering Barcelona. Unfortunately for the Bourbon interests, the Allies had rebuilt their army, thanks largely to the massive arrival of recruits and money from England. Therefore, when the Bourbon forces tried to advance into Catalan territory through the Urgell region, they failed to achieve fruitful results. Despite the long blockade of the town of Balaguer, the Bourbon army could not conquer it, and the Allies received constant reinforcements during the spring and summer of 1710. So the Bourbon commander, the Marquis of Villadarias, had to withdraw to the outskirts of Lerida to prevent his weary troops, who had also suffered several epidemics, from suffering greater hardships.

The Bourbon retreat Because of the alarm generated by the arrival of reinforcements at the Allied camp, what have initially been an organized retreat, finally turned into an exhausting march that decimated the Bourbon army.

Prelude Among the information provided in Lord Mahon’s work, written in the 19th century, an interesting document stands out written by General Stanhope on July 31st 1710, and addressed to the Earl of Sunderland. The letter explains with complete clarity the conditions under which the Battle of Almenar took place, and also the role played by the English troops. The first thing that is reflected in this letter is Stanhope’s aggressiveness, in broad contrast to the caution showed by both King Charles III and Guido von Starhemberg. In view of Stanhope’s urgent need to attack, the Allies adopted a compromise solution by posting some troops under the command of the English officer to act in the vanguard of the army (Lord Mahon, 1832, appendix cxi-cxv).

My lord,

Three days after the date of my last to your Lordship, which went by Mr. Craggs, our succours joined us about nine in the morning, upon which a council being called, it was strenuously urged by the English, Dutch, and Palatines, to march immediately to Lerida, in order to force the enemies to a battle, by cutting them off from that place: but the King and Mareschal strongly opposed, and showed themselves determined not to venture any thing. Their pretence for not doing it was, that the enemies’ army might get to Lerida, and cross the river before we could be up with them; which afterwards proved to be otherwise, since they did not get over the river, by twelve hours, so soon as was pretended they would. Our next thought was to cross the Segre at Balaguer, and push to get over the Noguera, to which purpose I was despatched with eight squadrons of dragoons, and 1000 grenadiers, with which I marched at midnight, and took post at Alfaraz [Alfarras], on the Aragon side of the Noguera, at six in the morning of the 27th.

The enemies had commanded ten squadrons of horse, 1000 grenadiers, and seven battalions of foot, to prevent our taking post: but notwithstanding that they had much less way to march, the negligence of their commanding officer, the Duke of Sarno, made them come late; for we did not discover them till nine in the morning: and when they did discover us, instead of attacking us, they possessed themselves of Almenara [Almenar], a village on the Noguera, about two miles below Alfaraz, where we were. About noon, our left wing of horse passed the river, which I formed on a plain about cannon shot from the river, between which plain and the river was a deep valley. By this time the enemies’ horse came up space and formed before me about eighteen squadrons, which I was going to attack, when the Mareschal came up and prevented, seeming still determined not to hazard any thing.

The troops on both sides were gradually accumulated in the vicinity of Almenar, deployed with their cavalries above the town, on the high plateau overlooking the entire area.

The battle

After repeatedly asking the King and Starhemberg for permission, Stanhope finally gave the order to attack at dusk, just when all the Allied army had crossed the Noguera river at Alfarras. It is worth noting this, unknown even to Stanhope, because this is why Starhemberg took so long to give him permission to attack. A defeat of the Allied cavalry when half the troops had not yet crossed the river would have been extremely dangerous for the Allied army.

I herefore marched to them with the left wing, which consisted of twenty-two squadrons, which were formed in two lines, and a corps de réserve of four squadrons; the ground we were drawn up in, not allowing us to make a greater front. So soon as we began to move, the squadrons of the enemies which had come down the rising I mentioned, retired to their line. When we got up that rise, with my first line consisting of but ten squadrons, we found the enemy drawn up in two lines, the first of twenty two squadrons and the second of twenty, with two battalions of foot betwixt their lines, and a brigade of foot on their right. I was therefore forced, so soon as I came in presence, to make a halt to get up some squadrons from the second line, the ground where the enemies were being so much wider than that which I had marched from; besides that getting up the hill had put our line in some disorder.

It is noteworthy how Stanhope guided the march of horse regiments because, despite the substantial number of troopers involved (about 4,000), he managed to stop and reform them, all in full view of the enemy, showing the great experience, calmness and courage of the Allied officers. Another important aspect was the sun’s position, which lit the battlefield from behind the Allies in such a way that the Bourbon horsemen did not realize of the magnitude of the Allied attack. This is not something that can be undervalued, as the dust raised by the four thousand trotting horses would have magnified the effect of the sunlight, while undermining the morale of the defenders, who could not see exactly what was falling on them. This is highlighted by an anonymous source, a horseman of Lord Raby’s regiment who was present at the battle (Falkner, 2005, p. 223):

About an hour before the sun set on the 16th day of July 1710, our squadrons had orders to advance, the left [of] our army being a great deal nearer to the enemy than our right, therefore our right wing was obliged to advance as fast as our horses could go. The sun then was not above a quarter of an hour high [per sobre de l’horitzo] when the left began to engage and the right was soon and behold how like lions our men fell upon them with sword in hand.

Despite the initial reservations of some Allied commanders, the attack was very successful. Although some points of resistance faced up to the attackers, the line of Bourbon cavalry was broken up by such a fierce attack led by the English commander.

The enemies were so good as to give us the time we wanted; we brought up six squadrons and put our line in good order, which consisted thus of sixteen in all: six English, four Dutch, and six Palatines. Mr. Carpenter and I were on the left; Mr. Frankenberg, the Palatine General, and Major- General Pepper, on the right. So soon as ever we were thus formed we attacked them; and, by the blessing of God, broke their two lines, which consisted of forty-two squadrons.

On the right were the Gardes du Corps and other choice regiments, which did not do ill, but their left made no resistance. I cannot sufficiently commend the behaviour of all the troops that were engaged, which never halted till we had driven their horse off the plain, beyond their infantry, which was in the valley; and if we had had two hours’ day light more, your Lordship may be assured that not one foot soldier of their army could have scaped. The night gave them an opportunity to retire to Lerida, which they did in such confusion, that they threw away their tents, lost good part of their baggage, and some of their cannon, and have continued ever since encamped within and about the glacis of Lerida. The Duke of Anjou and all his Generals were in the action.

Consequences of the victory

As a result of the fight and the chaotic withdrawal of the Bourbon army, an odd situation took place in which King Philip was escorted by Catalan troops. The event is explained in the Bourbon letter collected by Castellvi and it had no major consequences, but it does show how the Bourbon officers mistrusted even the Catalans in their ranks.

Despite the swift action, the battle was extremely hard, according to Stanhope. The fact that two Allied colonels died is quite relevant, because it demonstrates that high-ranking officers put themselves at risk in combat, especially horse regiment officers, and often had a higher percentage of casualties than other soldiers (Lord Mahon, 1832, appendices CXI-CXV).

I am sorry, now, my Lord, to tell you, that this action has cost her Majesty very dear, in the loss of two young men of quality, who would have made a great figure in this country, and done it great service,- my Lord Rochford and Count Nassau. Lord Rochford had joined us with his regiment from Italy but the day before; and he brought it in so good order, and set them so good an example, that, though they had to do with the best troops of the enemy, they beat them. I have often had occasion to mention Count Nassau to your Lordship: he was this day on the left of all, at the head of his own regiment, which was outflanked by several squadrons, and exposed to the fire of their infantry; notwithstanding which disadvantages he broke what was before him, and, after so vigorous an action, was unfortunately killed by a cannon from a battery of our own. Enclosed I send your Lordship the list of what other officers have been killed and wounded.

Out of the six squadrons of her Majesty’s troops which were engaged, viz. two of Harvey’s, two of Nassau’s, two of Rochford’s we have 200 men killed and wounded, and four out of five of them with swords. A Palatine regiment which was on our left, and a Dutch regiment which was in the centre, have likewise suffered considerably; the others had better fortune, having met with little opposition. The commanding officers of all nations signalised themselves; and it has been of no small use to me, who had been very little conversant with the treble service, to have the assistance of Mr. Carpenter, who was with me during this whole action, and did not a little contribute to the good success of it..

As for the Bourbon army, the defeat had reduced its cavalry, and especially its morale, which was decisive for the further development of the campaign. Moreover, the defeat at Almenar confirmed that without the help of Louis XIV and the French forces, Philip was unable to keep the Spanish territories under control, given the threat posed by the Allies.

Defeat at Brihuega

After the victory of Almenar, the Austriacist army continued to advance into Aragon, where some weeks later it had a decisive victory against the Bourbon army. Philip’s troops broke up and, as happened in 1706, the Allies were again able to choose their strategic goals and achieve them without hindrance from opponents.

Spurred on by English officers, and particularly by James Stanhope, the Austriacist troops advanced into Castile to dominate the centre of the Iberian Peninsula, and especially its capital. Philip had to flee Madrid for the second time and Charles was finally crowned King of Spain. However, in the long term this strategic decision was one of the Allies’ worst mistakes during the war, although it seemed quite an interesting option in the autumn of 1710.

On one hand, lack of connection with the Austriacist territories of Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia disrupted both communications and the logistics line for the Allies, which were very elongated and highly vulnerable to Bourbon dragoons raids. On the other hand, failure to close the passes connecting France and the Iberian Peninsula allowed Louis XIV to send a large contingent of troops to his grandson. These troops were under command of the Duke of Vendome, and to finally restore the situation, another French army under the command of the Duke of Noailles invaded the north of Catalonia to threaten the Austriacist territories. Since the bulk of the Allied army was in Castile, it was an optimal situation for the Bourbon’s interests, because there was no Allied force large enough to fight with. This offensive therefore further destabilized the precarious strategic situation of the Allies.

Noailles decided to besiege Girona at the end of 1710, with the intention of smoothing the way to Barcelona. The Allies were certainly surprised by the fact that the siege began in December, as it was unusual to conduct offensive actions in late winter. Given the serious strategic situation, the Austriacist commanders decided to retreat to Catalonia to pass the winter there. The English contingent took a different route from the rest of the army, and was surprised and surrounded by Bourbon forces in Brihuega, where they surrendered a few days later. In turn, Starhemberg, the supreme Allied commander, met the entire Bourbon army in Villaviciosa, when trying to help the English (not knowing that they had already surrendered). Both sides claimed victory in the muddled battle that took place on December 10th. However, the clash left Vendome’s army so damaged that Starhemberg was able to retreat to more optimal positions in the Segarra area.

The demarcations of the armies were not much changed during the following campaigns, because the 1710 campaign went on well into the following year and Vendome did not move until summer of 1711. The attempt to cross the Allied defensive line culminated in the Battle of Prats de Rei and the subsequent siege of Cardona, two Allied victories that left the Bourbon army badly damaged and withdrawing again to Lerida. But the English army was no longer present in Catalonia after the surrender of Brihuega, except for some small units. In the Iberian Peninsula there were no significant battles in 1712-1713, due to the opening of peace negotiations, as mentioned throughout the book.

In addition, the Imperial army was solidly defeated by Marshal Villars’ troops in Denain, and the war situation quickly deteriorated for the Austriacist side, as, for their part, the English and the Dutch were negotiating agreements with the Bourbons.

The Treaty of Utrecht ended the English intervention in Catalonia, and shortly afterwards the final chapter of the War of the Spanish Succession began: the Catalan campaign of 1713-1714.

Order of Avis

The Order of Avis rose to ultimate authority in Portugal, setting its head on the throne in 1385 as Juan I, and ruling Portugal until 1580 as the Aviz dynasty.

By the time the Third Crusade had begun in 1188, however, several military orders had already been founded to support the Iberian Reconquista (the irredentist war against the Moors of southern Iberia that had been in progress since shortly after the original conquest in 711-718 and had been declared to be a crusade by Pope Eugenius III in 1147). The Order of Calatrava was founded by the Cistercian Abbot of Fitero in 1158, just to the south of the Castilian frontier, and quickly acquired lands and houses in southern Castile and Aragon. A second order was founded ca. 1166 at Evora in Portugal under the name the Order of St. Benedict of Evora, but it was soon affiliated with Calatrava, became its Portuguese branch, and after moving its seat to Avis called itself the Order of Avis. The Order of St. Julian of Pereiro was similarly founded as an independent order in Leon by 1176, but it affiliated with Calatrava, became its Leonese branch, and took new names from its successive seats at Trujillo (in 1188) and Alcantara (in 1218). All three of these orders remained affiliated with the Cistercian Order and were treated as direct or indirect dependencies of the Cistercian Abbey of Morimond.

Territories of the Orders of Knighthood in the Iberian kingdoms at the end of the 15th century.

The two principal international military orders were the Templars and the Hospitallers, and they arrived in Portugal in 1128 and 1130 respectively. Their members were recruited mainly from younger or bastard sons of the European nobility. They were disciplined, well-organised and committed for the long term. Particularly from the time of the Almohads they played a major role in the Portuguese Reconquest and ultimately in the resettlement process. They took responsibility for many frontier castles. In the 1150s the Templars were charged with defending Lisbon and Santarém and in 1160 commenced building their great castle at Tomar. The Hospitallers established their principal castle at Belver on the Tagus near Abrantes. During the second half of the twelfth century Portuguese chapters of the Spanish Orders of Santiago and Alcántara were also formed. The rule of Calatrava, which had strong Cistercian associations, was adopted by a brotherhood originally assigned by Afonso Henriques to defend Évora, which later became the exclusively Portuguese Order of Avis. All these military orders played major roles in resisting the Almohads and then renewing the Christian advance. By the reign of Afonso II (1211-23), whose physical disabilities prevented him from personally participating in military activity, their leaders had effectively taken over direction of the Reconquest. The campaigns in the Algarve during the time of Sancho II (1223-45) and the final triumph under Afonso III were particularly the work of the knights of Santiago and Avis.

The Order of Avis, originally known as the Order of Évora. The first definite information about the order dates from 1176; it did not adopt the name of Avis until 1215.

The claims of medieval chroniclers that date the foundation of the order to the mid-twelfth century are unfounded. The conclusions of Rui Pinto de Azevedo are now held to be the most authoritative: he demonstrated that the origins of the order should be situated in Évora, and should be placed between March 1175 and April 1176 [Azevedo, “As origens da ordem de Évora ou de Avis”]. At this time King Afonso I Henriques of Portugal, thanks to a truce with the Almohads, was attempting to elaborate a defensive strategy that would ensure the advanced positions of his kingdom against alAndalus in the Alto Alentejo region (mod. central Portugal). In 1211 the brethren of Évora were given the fortress of Avis, from which they took their new name a few years later. It is unclear why the brethren left their original Benedictine obedience in 1187 and sought association with the Castilian Order of Calatrava, which followed the Cistercian rule. This new dependence was evident in the prerogatives given to the master of Calatrava: he had rights of visitation over the Order of Avis and was also allowed to govern the institution whenever a vacancy in its mastership occurred, which he did until the mid-fourteenth century.

The Order of Avis was composed of knight brethren and clerics. They wore a scapular, which from 1404 bore a green cross on the left side. Under the aegis of its master, the institution gradually gained strength during the first part of the thirteenth century. Supported by the Portuguese monarchy, the brethren were active in the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Moors, acquiring lands in the process. By the late thirteenth century these properties were organized in a network of no fewer than twenty-five commanderies: the richest of these were concentrated on the left bank of the river Tagus (Port. Tejo) near Avis, and also further south in the newly conquered areas, where the brethren had settled in Évora, Alandroal, Juromenha, Noudar, and Albufeira.

Such extensive land-ownership alarmed the Portuguese monarchy, which felt threatened by the potential power of the order. In the reign of King Dinis (1279-1325), royal policy toward Avis changed radically: the king put an end to donations and began supporting urban oligarchies and Muslim minorities in jurisdictional disputes, even in the town of Avis itself, thus deliberately harming the order’s interests. The masters of Avis were increasingly selected from among the king’s followers, or even his relatives. This can be seen in the case of the Infante Joao (Port. Joao), a natural son of King Peter I who was made the master of the order in 1364 at the age of seven, twenty years before ascending the throne of Portugal.

Joao became king after a two-year civil war, an event that could only reinforce royal interference in the order. After defeating his Castilian rival in 1385 in the battle of Aljubarrota, Joao I tried to maintain control by appointing a faithful follower, Fernao Rodrigues de Sequeira, as master of Avis. When the latter died in 1433, John decided that a master of royal blood would be best able to control the order, and appointed his own son, the Infante Fernao (Ferdinand). This master had to relinquish his position just before his death (1443) after being captured in Tangier. His successor was Pedro, his own nephew and son of Infante Pedro, the regent of the kingdom. Despite a period of exile, Pedro succeeded in keeping his office until his death in 1466. The mastership was then given to the Infante Joao, the elder son of King Afonso V; he remained master after ascending the throne in 1481. Nine years later Joao II gave the mastership to his heir, the Infante Afonso, and then to the Infante Jorge, his own natural son. The latter paved the way for the eventual absorption of the order by the Portuguese Crown, which occurred in 1550.


When the focus of action shifted south in the final century of the Reconquest both traditional seigneurs and concelhos were overtaken as instruments of settlement by large religious corporations. This process gained momentum with the arrival in Portugal from France of the white monks or Cistercians, the era’s most dynamic monastic order. Afonso Henriques granted the Cistercians a swathe of undeveloped territory in Estremadura, where in 1157 they founded Portugal’s greatest abbey at Alcobaça. In Alentejo the crown reserved for itself the towns and their immediate environs, but granted out most other lands to the nobility, monasteries, churches and, above all, the military orders. In 1169 the Templars, who had earlier been given extensive lands in the Zêzere valley, were promised a third of all the territory they could conquer in Alentejo. By the mid-thirteenth century the Templars and Hospitallers between them controlled large parts of Beira Baixa, Ribatejo and northern Alto Alentejo. Much of southern Alto Alentejo belonged to the Order of Avis. Further southwest, especially in Baixo Alentejo, were huge holdings granted to the Order of Santiago, balanced to the southeast by smaller territories possessed by the Templars and Hospitallers. All this meant that collectively the military orders were easily the greatest territorial beneficiaries of the Portuguese Reconquest.

Bibliography Ayala Martinez, Carlos de, Las ordenes militares hispanicas en la Edad Media (siglos XII-XV) (Madrid: Pons, 2003). Azevedo, Rui Pinto de, “As origens da ordem de Évora ou de Avis,” Historia 1 (1932), 233-241. Cunha, Maria Cristina Almeida, A ordem militar de Avis (das origens a 1329) (Oporto: Universidade do Porto, 1989). Fonseca, Luis Adao da, “Ordens militares,” in Dicionario de Historia Religiosa de Portugal, ed. Carlos Moreira Azevedo (Lisboa: Circulo de Leitores, 2001), vol. J-P, pp. 334-345. Pimenta, Maria Cristina Gomes, “A ordem militar de Avis durante o mestrado de D. Fernao Rodrigues de Sequeira,” Militarium Ordinum Analecta 1 (1997), 127-242. —, As ordens de Avis e de Santiago na Baixa Idade Média: O governo de D. Jorge (Palmela: Gabinete de Estudos sobre Ordem de Santiago, 2002).

Portugal and the Changing Art of War


Portuguese kings needed more revenue by the late fourteenth century especially because of their escalating military costs. These cost increases were mainly a consequence of developments in the technology of warfare. Chain mail, long worn by knights, was being steadily replaced by more expensive plate armour. Fortifications were being re-designed and strengthened to better withstand sieges. Perhaps most important of all, the introduction and escalating use of the crossbow amounted to a revolution in weaponry. Systematic recruitment and training of crossbowmen (besteiros) probably began in Portugal during the first half of the fourteenth century, but progressed slowly. The process required complex organisation on a national scale, but was an essential step towards the creation of a permanent royal army. Units of crossbowmen were raised on a quota basis by the Portuguese municipalities. The archers were recruited primarily from the sons of tradesmen, not members of the nobility or their retainers, and they were equipped with their weapons directly by the crown.

Though in the struggle against Juan of Castile a substantial proportion of Joāo I’s army still consisted of feudal levies, the presence of the crossbowmen enabled Nuno Álvares Pereira to apply one of the most important lessons of the Hundred Years War – namely, that well-trained, disciplined bowmen drawn up in sound defensive positions could devastate slow-moving knights on horseback. So it had been at Crécy and Poitiers – and so it was at Aljubarrota. On that memorable field the Portuguese army, though smaller than that of Castile, was more coherent, better led and perhaps more advanced on the road to modernisation. While Portugal did not retain these advantages for long, they were nevertheless crucial in 1385, when the kingdom’s need was greatest.

Early in the fourteenth century the still more revolutionary powder weapons were introduced; but they were then too unreliable and therefore slow to gain acceptance. However, by the start of the fifteenth century cannon were proving their worth, especially in siege warfare. Under the early Avis kings they were gradually incorporated into the nation’s arsenal. Firearms and gunpowder were kept strictly under crown control, with a central arsenal maintained in Lisbon. Cannon were used to great effect by both Afonso V and later monarchs in Morocco. They were also mounted on warships.

The English also remained active in Spain, fighting against Castile as allies of Navarre, Aragon or, in the 1380s, Portugal. In 1381-82, for example, Edmund Langley, Earl of Cambridge, led 1,500 men-at-arms and 1,500 archers (mostly English but including Gascons and Castilian exiles) in an invasion of Castile alongside the King of Portugal, while some 4-800 English archers under 3 esquires were in the Portuguese army at Aljubarrota. The largest English expedition was that of1386-87, when the Duke of Lancaster, pressing his own claim to the throne of Castile, invaded Galicia and León in alliance with Portugal, his forces totalling as many as 2,000 men-at-arms, 3,000 archers and perhaps 2,000 further foot-soldiers.

With so many French and English troops around it is hardly surprising to find the Spanish states very soon beginning to emulate their military organisation and techniques. As early as 1372, for instance, we find King Fernando of Portugal stipulating that his vassals were in future expected to field troops equipped either in the French or the English manner. Full reorganisation was in hand by 1382, when both Portugal and Castile laid down new rules for the raising and administration of their armies. Fernando entirely abolished the Moorish military nomenclature that had been used for hundreds of years and replaced it with the current Anglo-French terminology of his allies. The ancient office ofalferez mor (Chief-standard-bearer), the military commander-in-chief in the king’s absence, was abandoned and replaced instead by a Constable (Condestabre) and a Marshal (Marichal).

Portugal, normally fielded only some 2-3,000 men-at-arms in the 14th century, plus at the most 10-12,000 infantry. Even in the Toro campaign as late as 1475 she put only 5,600 horse and 14,000 foot in the field, as compared to Castile’s 4,000 men-at-arms, 8,000 jinetes (spelt with a ‘g’ in Portugal) and 30,000 infantry in 1476.

The Military Orders

After 1275 the Orders had been gradually taken over by the aristocracy, and then by the crown, and were subsequently stripped of much of their wealth. In addition they were sapped of their strength by their use in the civil wars that so racked the Iberian kingdoms; in 1354, for example, the anti-Master of Calatrava, Pedro Estevaiiez Carpenteiro, mustered 600 lances against Pedro the Cruel’s own appointed Master, Diego Garcia de Padilla, brethren of Santiago, Calatrava and Alcantara fighting on both sides in the Trastamaran conflict of the 1350s and 1360s. It is hardly surprising, then, that one modern authority should state that ‘by 1330 all the Orders were smaller, weaker, more dominated by the kings and nobles and less effective against the Moslems’. By the end of this era their very independence had been stripped from them too; in Castile the crown effectively took the Masterships of Calatrava, Santiago and Alcantara for itself in 1487, 1493 and 1494 respectively.

Nevertheless, the Orders could still muster substantial forces throughout the 14th and 15th centuries. Calatrava alone housed 150 freyles caballeros (brother knights) in 1302, in addition to which the Order had 40 commanderies by the end of the 14th century and 51-56 by the beginning of the 16th. The Order’s Grand Commander and Castellan respectively raised forces of 500 cavalry and 1,200 infantry, and 1,200 cavalry and 800 infantry, against one another in 1442, while the Master raised 400 cavalry and an unknown quantity of infantry from the Order’s Andalusian estates alone 40 years later. Excluding its Portuguese commanderies the Order of Santiago could field some 250 freyles in the 14thcentury, and 400 freyles and 1,000 lances from its whole 84 commanderies by the 16th, while the Master of Alcantara was able to raise as many as 1,500 horse and 2,500 foot in 1472. Froissart tells us that even the Portuguese Order of Avis, of which the Mastership had been at the disposal of the crown since 1385, had 200 brethren. In fact the numbers of each Order’s brethren seem always to have been proportionately small, and most of the troops they raised were actually vassals or mercenaries. Thus brethren are frequently to be found in the role of officers commanding units of infantry or crossbowmen, or even artillery (of which the Orders had their own). The actual command structure of each individual Order was headed by its Master (Maestre or Mestre). His deputy was the Grand Prior (Prior Mayor; in the Order of Calatrava the Gran Prior came below the Clavero), after whom came the Grand Commander (Comendador Mayor); the Castellan or Key-bearer (Clavero), assisted by a Sub-Ciavero and a Quartermaster (Obrero); and finally the Alferez or Standard-bearer of the Order. Organisation of individual commanderies remained as before, except that most now only contained 4 brethren, not 12.

All this meant that well before the end of the fifteenth century waging independent war was inexorably moving beyond the means of even the greatest of magnates – unless they could act in unison with powerful outside forces. Great nobles might still retain a capacity to put into the field significant forces, but were at a growing comparative disadvantage to the crown. This was graphically demonstrated by the downfall of the duke of Braganc, a in 1483. From the time Joāo I became firmly established on his throne, no Portuguese noble dared to offer a direct challenge to the king militarily. The only exception was Pedro, the beleaguered ex-regent, who was easily overwhelmed at Alfarrobeira in 1449. Nobles who sought to get rid of a king were thereafter more inclined to try assassination. This helps to explain why from the time of Afonso V monarchs and their families were usually protected by a royal guard approximately 200 strong. In short, there is no doubt that by the Avis era advances in the art of war strengthened the king vis-à-vis the nobility and contributed significantly to Portugal’s advance towards modern statehood.


Prior to the arrival of the English and French in the mid-14th century, Spanish warfare depended for success on fast-moving raids and the systematic use of siege warfare, and though pitched battles were not exactly unknown they were certainly extremely uncommon. The Spanish therefore lacked the training and experience to meet du Guesclin’s and the Black Prince’s companies of veterans on anything like equal terms, and the latter consequently had a low opinion of them. Froissart says of the Spanish: ‘It is true that they cut a handsome figure on horseback, spur off to advantage, and fight well at the first onset; but as soon as they have thrown 2 or 3 darts, and given a stroke with their lances, without disconcerting the enemy, they take alarm, turn their horses’ heads and save themselves by flight as well as they can. This game they played at Aljubarrota.’

The reference to their throwing of darts is significant, because this was characteristic of the skirmishing style of warfare that the Spaniards had been involved in with their Moslem neighbours for centuries. It had even led to the evolution of a special troop-type-the jinete-whose light armour, low saddle, short stirrups and nimble horse put him on an equal footing with the light, javelin-armed horsemen of Granada. The role of the jinete in battle was identical to that of his Moslem counterpart-to charge towards the enemy, discharge his javelins, and wheel away again before he could reply. In addition jinetes patrolled the flanks and rear of the army and cut down fugitives. At Trancoso and Aljubarrota in 1385 and at Salamanca in 1387 the Castilians employed their jinetes to outflank the Portuguese and fall on their rear. At Najera too they were positioned on the flanks of the Franco-Castilian army, probably with a similar plan in mind, but on this occasion they proved utterly ineffective in the face of the Black Prince’s longbowmen. Their one success against the English was at Ariñez in 1367, where a large body of jinetes under Don Tello surprised Sir William Felton’s company of some 100 or 400 men-at-arms and archers on a hillside. Chandos Herald tells us how Felton himself charged them on horseback, ‘and the Castilians followed him on all sides, throwing lances and javelins at him. They killed his horse under him, but Sir William defended himself fiercely on foot, though it was of little use for he was killed in the end.’ Don Tello then turned on the rest of Felton’s company: ‘the Spaniards launched many attacks on them, pressing them hard and hurling javelins and lances and spears. And that brave band of men … charged down more than a hundred times with drawn swords and made them retreat, nor could the Castilians harm them by throwing lances and darts.’ In the end it took the French marshal d’Audrehem’s men to finish the action, these dismounting and attacking on foot once they arrived on the scene. The moral here is that although the jinetes had succeeded in pinning the English company down, it nevertheless took dismounted men-at-arms to successfully conclude the engagement, and prior to the coming of the French and English, Spanish men-at-arms were not prepared to dismount in battle. Even afterwards they dismounted only reluctantly, though it is noteworthy that the elite Order of the Sash accompanied du Guesclin’s vanguard on foot at Najera. That the Spanish nevertheless recognised the tactical potential of dismounted men-at-arms is clear from the fact that Pere IV, King of Aragon, categorically forbade his troops ever to attack Castile’s French mercenaries once they had dismounted, recommending (rather negatively) that they should keep their distance and wait until the French had remounted before attempting to attack them.

In the field Spanish troops, like those elsewhere in Europe, drew up in 3 battles (batallas), which were divided into so many quadrillas or squadrons, each commanded by a knight called a quadrillero. The best troops were stationed in the centre and at the extremities of the line, and the infantry (crossbowmen, javelinmen and slingers) were drawn up in front. Compared to the English or French they delivered disordered charges, both on horseback and on the rare occasions that they dismounted. The Granadines made the most of this weakness when they actually took the Castilians on in the field in open combat, resorting to sudden feigned or real charges by bands of yelling horsemen whose intent was to disorder, panic or draw the enemy in disorganised pursuit, at which the Moslems would wheel and hurl their javelins at them at close range.


More unusually, the Portuguese crown also developed one of the most effective fighting navies possessed by any contemporary European monarch in this period, its only serious rival being that of Castile. The origins of this Portuguese navy are obscure, though there are fleeting mentions of crown warships as early as the mid-twelfth century. In 1317 King Dinis, concerned to defend the coast and shipping from Muslim corsairs and to mount his own offensive operations, contracted with the Genoese Manuel Pessagno to establish a permanent galley fleet based in Lisbon. This was a far-sighted, long-term investment, for navies even more than armies could not be created overnight. During the next few decades, the Portuguese crown accumulated the necessary resources and experience to sustain a permanent fleet and to begin to build up a great naval tradition. In the fourteenth century, the navy consisted mainly of galleys for which rowers were recruited from Portugal’s coastal communities; but it must at times have also included various kinds of sailing ships.

The high cost and technical proficiency needed to maintain galley squadrons meant they were a military arm which only the state could sustain. Already in 1369 King Fernando possessed thirty-two galleys. Later, galleys played a key role in the successful defence of Lisbon by Joāo of Avis in 1384. Portugal also developed a capacity to move substantial military forces by sea using sailing ships. This capacity made serious campaigning in North Africa possible – and without it the famous Ceuta expedition of 1415 could not have been mounted. Moreover, it was Portuguese success in building and manning ocean-going sailing vessels that made possible the country’s role in early Atlantic exploration.

Spanish Defense Commitments – Navy


S-80 class submarines

Displacement: 1,565 tons submerged

Dimensions: 61.7 x 6.2 x ?? meters

Propulsion: Diesel-electric, AIP, 1 shaft, 3,800 shp, 20 knots

Crew: 32-35

The S-80 submarine’s sonar suite will comprise of a cylindrical array sonar, a flank array sonar, a passive ranging sonar, and a mine and obstacle detection sonar. These facilities are being provided by Lockheed Martin. The support structures and fairings for the sonars are being provided by Goodrich.

The S-80 will also be integrated with a towed array sonar system, supplied by QinetiQ, an interception positioning system and an own noise analyser.

It will be fitted with satellite communication systems developed by Indra and a guidance automation unit distributed intelligence (GAUDI) autopilot system developed by Avio.

The submarine will be equipped with Aries radars, Friend or Foe identification systems (IFF) and modular Pegaso defence electronic systems supplied by Indra.

The submarine will also be enhanced by integrating non-penetrating all-weather optronic imaging systems, hoistable masts and periscopes, which will be supplied by Kollmorgen Electro-Optical and Calzoni.

Armament: 6 21 inch torpedo tubes (18 torpedoes and Harpoon missiles)

New design to replace the Daphne class submarines.

Number Name                   Year       Homeport           Notes

[S81                                     2005    Cartagena            planned December 2022 ]

[S82                                                 Cartagena           planned]

[S83                                                 Cartagena            planned]

[S84                                                  Cartagena           planned]

Galerna (Agosta) class coastal submarines

Displacement: 1,767 ton submerged

Dimensions: 67.57 x 6.8 meters (222.5 x 22 feet)

Propulsion: Diesel electric, 2 diesels, 1 shaft, 4,600 shp, 20 knots

Crew: 50

Sonar: DUUA-2A, DUUA-2B, DSUV 22A, DUUX-2A (S73 & S74: DUUX-5)

Fire Control: DLA-2A

Armament: 4 21 inch torpedo tubes (20 torpedoes)

Spanish-built French Agosta class with slightly different electronics.

Number Name                   Year       Homeport           Notes

S71     Galerna                1981    Cartagena

S72     Siroco                      1982    Cartagena decommissioned 2012

S73     Mistral                     1983    Cartagena

S74     Tramontana            1984    Cartagena

Delfin (Daphne) class coastal submarines

Displacement: 1,043 ton submerged

Dimensions: 57.57 x 6.74 meters (189 x 22 feet)

Propulsion: Diesel electric, 2 diesels, 2 shafts, 2,000 shp, 15 knots

Crew: 56

Sonar: DUUA-2B, DSUV 22A, DUUX-2A.

Fire Control: DLT-D-3

Armament: 12 21 inch torpedo tubes (12 torpedoes)

Spanish-built French Daphne class with improved electronics.

Number Name                   Year       Homeport           Notes

S61     Delfin                       1973    Cartagena

S62     Tonina                    1973    Cartagena

S63     Marsopa                  1975    Cartagena

S64     Narval                       1975    Cartagena

The first major change in the long dormant WEU (West European Union), the defense arm of the European Community (later European Union). The showcase for this change, calculated to energize European capabilities without recourse to NATO and, in particular, the United States, became the Eurocorps in which the Spanish contribution of the “Brunete” (1994) demonstrated a new Spanish presence in European affairs. Building on the Eurocorps formula, the WEU continued the next year with inceptions of EuroFor and EuroMarFor standing forces earmarked by Spain, France, Italy, and Portugal. A Spanish admiral led the standing naval force in the Mediterranean in the first year of its existence.

The first chance for Spanish military action in this 1990s came in supporting the United States in Spain as part of the UN prosecution against Iraq during 1990-91. So soon after breaking away from further dependence upon U. S. aid in 1988, the Socialist government of President Felipe González proved surprisingly helpful to U. S. forces in Spain. Permission was given to base twenty-two B-52 bombers at Morón and fly their bombing missions against Iraqi forces. Another forty aerial refuelers operated out of Morón and supported these aircraft, and the hundreds of U. S. tactical aircraft ferried through Spain to the Gulf region. When the bombers at Morón began to run out of ordnance, Spanish air force and army aircraft and heavy lift helicopters carried the bombs from storage sites at Torrejón and Zaragoza to maintain the operational tempo. Over 60% of U. S. airlift to the Gulf transited Spanish bases and local commanders stepped up security at the U. S. facilities; Spanish forces deployed ships to the Gulf in 1990 and took over other allied responsibilities in the Mediterranean to free them for deployments. Finally, Spanish air force and army troops deployed to Turkey in mid-1991 as part of Combined Task Force Provide Comfort, a U. S.-led UN mission into Northern Iraq to furnish local security to Iraqi Kurds in wake of the Iraqi defeat in Operation Desert Storm. A reinforced battalion of the Parachute Brigade (586 troops) operated with the U. S. and British forces on the ground, including the U. S. 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which had exercised that spring with the Spanish Legion at Almería.

Spanish defense doctrine created a so-called strategic “Axis” drawn along the line Balearic Islands-Straits-Canary Islands in the 1980s, both to orient its planning and to convince allies of the importance of the southern flank. In particular, Spain sought to advise allies of its archipelago responsibilities in both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and to stress the vital role of the Straits zone, including the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves.

Spanish defense forces undertook developing a joint warfighting doctrine. Cooperation among the three services traditionally had proven nonexistent. However, the replacement of the former service ministries by a modern MOD structure and the demands for modernization of forces and warfighting techniques for national and European defense needs brought joint operations to the forefront. Approved in 1995, the new policy formally charged the chief of the defense staff (JEMAD) with the operational command of the units assigned by the separate services for a mission. The staff exercised this control for years in exercises and simulations, and first put the doctrine into action in the Perejil Island recovery operation of 2002.

The services were ordered each to form “operational commands” suitable for expeditionary service in 1991. The commanders of the Mandos Operativos take the character of service component chiefs, each responsible for deploying and tactically directing their units under the command of the JEMAD or a joint deployment headquarters. The Army initially designated its FAR headquarters, the Air Force created its Aerial Operational Command (MOA), and the Navy entrusted its fleet commander (ALFLOT) with these responsibilities. The defense structure changes and force modernization programs fleshed out these and other organizational aims during 1996-2000.

In terms of the military balance, Maghreb nations pose so little offensive threat to Spain and other nearby countries that Spanish Defense Minister Gustavo Suarez Pertierra could assert (1995) “we have no enemies” as the slogan of Spanish defense policy. Reduced tensions in Central Europe, however, contrasted with increased instability in the Mediterranean littoral. Spanish defense policy continued to evolve from the old Francoist policy of peninsular defense and colonial policing to embrace a modern version of territorial defense (mainly air defense and a ground reserve) coupled with modern forces necessary to maintain Spain’s status in NATO, the EC, and the UN.

Even in the event of ruptured relations, the Maghreb nations pose very little military threat to Spanish territory. The Spanish Air Force will replace its older U.S.-supplied radars and command and control systems with a modern SIMCA system (Sistema Integrado de Mando y Control Aereo), featuring three-dimensional radars, NATO and AWACS interoperability, and hardened command bunkers at Morón, Torrejón, and Canary Island sites. The NATO AWACS also serves to fill in radar gaps in the south, especially against low-fliers. Fighter squadrons are well exercised in the defense of Spanish airspace, and, with a few deployments from garrison bases-e. g., to the Balearic and Canary Islands-should be capable of handling a level of intrusion in excess of the threat.

Seaward defenses against raiding patrol craft, mines, and submarines remained the primary effort of the Spanish Navy, assisted by P-3C aircraft of the Air Force and Harpoon-armed EF-18 fighters. The light carrier Task Group Alpha, centered on the carrier Principe de Asturias, is fully oriented to classic sea control missions. The Mine Warfare Flotilla was transferred from its idyllic base at Palma de Mallorca to the naval base at Cartagena in 1992 mainly so that it could concentrate better on the vital shipping lanes into Cádiz, where 70% of Spanish sea imports arrive. The eight (recently reduced to five) Spanish submarines are kept in technically upgraded condition and exercise frequently in ASW roles. Amphibious potential continued to grow in Task Group Delta with the replacement of older transport ships with two Spanish-built amphibious assault ships and the naval infantry of the Tercio de la Armada, composed of a regimental landing team. The amphibious arm would prove essential in the event of a forced evacuation from Maghreb ports or a reinforcement of the Spanish enclave cities. The excellent Spanish Navy combat divers and the special operations companies of the naval infantry can perform hostage rescue actions.

The Navy

The Spanish Navy of the twenty-first century also aims at achieving a technological edge over its possible opponents, and musters over 11,000 enlisted personnel and draws 1,056 million of the 2006 budget. The navy takes advantage of an excellent relationship with the United States to purchase advanced systems such as the Aegis combat system, the Tomahawk land attack missile, and the SH-60 helicopter, but also has led the other services in establishing a solid national industrial base now producing and exporting advanced ships such as the F-100 air defense frigate and the S-80 submarine (Nansen and Scorpene class ships being built for Norway and Chile, respectively).

In 2005, the navy could line up one light aircraft carrier, five submarines (though one is scheduled to be retired in 2006), eleven frigates, six minesweepers, four amphibious ships, twelve patrol ships or corvettes, forty aircraft of all classes, and around fifty auxiliary ships, including an underway replenishment ship. In the same vein as the other services, the operational fleet, based at Rota, includes

Fleet Projection Group with the carrier Principe de Asturias and the amphibious ships carrying units of the naval infantry Tercio de Armada (TEAR). This Tercio forms as a brigade-sized formation that combines light infantry (two battalions), mechanized units (a tank company and a mechanized battalion supported by a self-propelled battery), and a special operations company, making it the most versatile unit in the Spanish armed forces.

• 41st Escort Squadron: six F-80 FFG frigates

• 31st Escort Squadron: three F-100 class frigates and two F-70 frigates

• Submarine Squadron: four Agosta class and one Daphne´ class submarines

• Aircraft flotilla: with helicopter and AV-8B Harrier squadrons

• Minesweeper flotilla: with six Segura class minesweepers

• Fleet replenishment ship Patiño

New programs include the Strategic Projection Ship (a large through-deck amphibious assault ship), an additional replenishment unit, two more F-100 frigates, four S-80 advanced diesel submarines, and four Maritime Action Ships (with a possible ten more to follow), as well as lesser units, like the twelve landing craft. The helicopter force is expected to receive twenty NH-90 helicopters, and it is hoped that JSF will be bought to replace the Harriers.