Francis Drake
and the Spanish Armada

Francis Drake is regarded as a hero in England, but he was despised (and feared) as a pirate in Spain. This poem tells of the time he drove away a huge Spanish invasion force...after he had finished his game of bowls of course.

After many years of daring exploits at sea, outsmarting his enemies and stealing their gold, Drake's finest hour came when the Spanish Armada was spotted off the coast of Plymouth. He took command of the English fleet, outmanoevred the armada, and broke up their formation using fire ships. The Spanish ships fled, and England was safe.

After you have finished reading the poem, scroll down for more about the Spanish Armada.


Francis Drake and the Spanish Armada
A poem for kids by Paul Perro

Francis Drake was a pirate who
Sailed all around the world.
He liked to attack Spanish ships
And steal their jewels and gold.

He gave the treasure to the queen,
She thought him a hero.
The Spanish were scared and called him
The dragon, "El Draco."

One day Francis was playing bowls
With some friends by the sea,
When he spied some Spanish ships coming,
They'd come for their jewellery.


"Quick" said his friends, "Let's go at once
And chase those ships away!"
But Drake said "No, let's finish our game,
We still have time to play."

And when at last the game was over,
Francis Drake said "Right!
Let's play a trick on the Spanish,
We'll give them such a fright."

He took an empty ship and he
Set fire to the mast,
Then pushed it at the Spanish who
Were looking on, aghast.

They saw the fireship coming
And they were filled with fear.
"The dragon!" they said,"Vamanos!
Let's get out of here!"

The Armada turned around
And headed back to Spain.
Drake laughed and shouted out at them
"Don't dare come back again!"




Spanish Armada Facts


  • It was in the year 1588 that the Catholic King Philip of Spain sent his grand fleet of ships, the Armada, to attack England, ruled by Queen Elizabeth I. It consisted of 130 ships, 8000 sailors, and 19000 soldiers.

  • The Spanish king hated the English Queen for several reasons. Firstly, she had refused to marry him once. Secondly, she was a Protestant. Thirdly, England had helped the Dutch in their fight against the Spanish. Fourthly, the Queen had encouraged "privateers" (or pirates, according to the Spanish) to attack Spanish ships carrying treasure back from the "New World" of America.



  • The year before the invasion, Sir Francis Drake had attacked the Spanish fleet at its port in Cadiz, doing great damage.

  • The Armada set sail in May 1588, but ran into a bad storm and had to go back to Spain. They eventually set sail again in July.

  • Francis Drake spotted the Armada coming from land, in Plymouth. The story that he demanded to finish the game of bowls he was playing at the time might be true, but is more likely to be a myth.

  • The intention was for the Spanish Armada to meet up with an army they had waiting in France, ready to invade.

  • The Armada was in a crescent formation that was difficult to attack. The English used fireships to break the formation and create panic.

  • After a battle lasting 9 hours, the Spanish ships, scattered and defeated, fled. Some ended up shipwrecked in Scotland or Ireland. Only about half of the original fleet made it back to Spain.

  • The Spanish did not give up. They sent more Armadas in 1596 and 1597, but they were failures too.



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