An Inciting Event

This page will briefly explain one of the most significant reasons why the English began exploring and settling in North America.

The Protestant Wind

Phillip II's Invincible ArmadaKing Phillip II of Spain devised a lofty plan to invade England, overthrow Elizabeth I, and return the English to papal—that is, Catholic—control. At the heart of this plan was the massive fleet Phillip had assembled, the Spanish Armada.

From the beginning, the Armada's journey was hindered by bad weather. The enormous fleet also soon discovered that they were at another disadvantage: due to the enormity of their ships and their lack of experienced sailors, the ships were extremely unweildy, especially in the narrow waters of the English Channel. Also, because the Armada's battle plan was to overtake their enemy's ships and fight in close quarters, their crews were primarily trained in hand-to-hand combat, not in the use of the ships' artillery.

Map of Spanish Armada's RouteThe English ships, however, were much faster and much more nimble than the Spanish galleons. The English warships were also well-manned with dedicated, skilled sailors who were all very well trained with the ships' cannons.

After battling for nearly three weeks, the Spanish decided to sail north around Scotland and Ireland to avoid sailing back through the English Channel (where the British navy was also located).

Unfortunately for the Armada, they were met by even more bad weather, vicious storms that crashed their galleons into the rocks on the Irish coast, killing thousands.

The victory of the English over the Spanish Armada gave England security in exploring and settling in North America. The storms that desicrated the Spanish Armada were referred to as The Protestant Wind, further bolstering English confidence and served, to the English, as a sign of God's support of them, their religion, and their prosperity.