“I know that I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and of a King of England too, and I think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.”
Elizabeth Tudor could easily be accused of being melodramatic. Neither she nor the troops she addressed on that sultry August 19 at Tilbury knew that “The Great Enterprise,” the Spanish Armada, long expected and feared, was already beaten. Exactly a week before – on Friday, August 12, 1588 – King Philip II of Spain’s reluctant new Captain General of the Ocean Sea, Don Alonso de Guzman el Bueno, Duke of Medina Sidonia and Captain General of Andalusia, had watched Lord Charles Howard of Effingham, the Queen’s admiral, give up the chase and head for the Firth of Forth. Howard was finally convinced the Spanish would not try for a landing on the English or Scottish coasts. His own food and water were depleted and the great Armada was clearly beaten.