Spain was no stranger to naval warfare or to seaborne invasions. Sixteen years before the attack on England, at the battle of Lepanto 1571, a Spanish-led Catholic fleet –the ‘Holy League’ – had crushed the fleet of the Ottoman Turks, hitherto the dominant naval power in the eastern Mediterranean. And just six years previously in 1582, Phillip’s forces had successfully mounted an amphibious invasion of the Azores islands, the only Portuguese possession to resist the ‘Union of Crowns’ with Spain by force.


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