The Spanish invasion of England

Just a curiousity really after a throw-away conversation earlier but-the Spanish plan to land troops in England actually worked, for example Medina Sidonia had attacked the English fleet docked at Plymouth and the Duke of Parma's army had successfully met the armada. (Not too ASB i hope!) They then sail barges relatively unopposed (execpt for a few attacks from the dutch rebels) to the coast of England and land on the Kentish coast.

Does the army of England have any chance of successfully repelling the invasion force?

Does Elizabeth die on the field of battle?
 
Odds for England if Parma got ashore

Elizabeth's force at Tilbury was about all that she and Leicester could scratch together. The key elements would have been her own guards, militia units such as the London Trained Bands, possibly the largely-ineffective levies led by the Justices of the Peace. Henry the Seventh had largely demilitarised the nobility of England, which explains why the earliest battles of the later English Civil War were such 'ad hoc' affairs.

Parma's forces were by contrast the most powerful army in the Netherlands, battle-hardened troops with experience in fighting the Dutch in the Low Countries. If they had got ashore, the Tilbury levies would have been outgunned, outnumbered and out of luck. Elizabeth had spoken of leading her troops, but it would probably have been Leicester who took charge in the actual fighting. Elizabeth would have probably lost London, the industrial areas of the Weald in Sussex, Essex and Kent. With such a substantial bridgehead in his hands, Parma would not have been possible to dislodge. Blockade of Parma by the English Navy was the only way to stop him thereafter.

Sidonia's forces were well enough equipped to have bottled up the forces in the South Coast ports, if the Duke had been as capable as the man he had replaced. Henry the Eighth's forts defending Falmouth and Plymouth were the only meagre defence other than the English Navy itself. However, it would not have been a walkover; men like Howard and Drake would have attempted to use their fast, heavily-gunned frigates to blast their way through Sidonia's force and reach the open sea. Galleons and galleasses would have had to almost form a wall to stop them.

My conclusion - albeit not well informed - is that Elizabeth would have escaped north from London, that some elements of the English Fleet would have escaped to harass the Spanish Navy, but that Parma would have been able to seize most of lowland England. Ironically, Elizabeth's one hope may have been Scotland; the Presbyterian Scots like John Knox would regard Parma as a manifestation of the Devil. They and the northern English would probably have made common cause behind Protestant Elizabeth, fighting in the hills against a Spanish Catholic occupation. It is also possible that Swedish, German and Dutch volunteers and mercenaries would follow the Anglo-Scots lead to preserve Protestantism.

The outcome would depend on weather - Parma's army might be as vulnerable to disease and cold as Napoleon's, probably losing support from English Catholics after high-handed requisitioning and abuse. Unless he could suppress the Scots and Northern English within the campaigning season, Parma would be facing increasing opposition and might have to withdraw.

Any comments ?
 
I agree with the Catholic Stuarts on the throne, it seems the most sensible solution for the Spanish Hapsburgs (let's ignore the "sensible" and "spanish hapsburgs" on the same sencence, weird as it is). If Paris is worth a Mass, London probably is too. Or at least a couple genuflexions, this is sixteen century London after all, and british weather wasnt' any better then....

Bur Elizabeth executed? Be real. That's a Queen. Moreover, she is Philip's sister in law. Unless she actually does die in battle, Spain does not execute captured monarchs, they keep then hostage and bled then dry on the peace teatry -they did capture the king of France once and eventually released him, after all (mmmm... didnt' the english capture some king or France too at one time? they should have learned by now to keep away from the battlefield)

The execution of Mary by the English, while not unique, was a rare event in international relations. Henry VIII wife-killing rampage is unique, I think. Hostage kings simply are not executed.

(of course, if we end up with a Stuart on the throne, and the Spanish "return" the deposed queen to London, I do not think she would last long on the hands of the orphaned son... what comes around goes around)
 
One reason this campaign was doomed from the start was the Armada didn't bring the transports necessary to move the Duke of Parma's army to England and the Duke of Parma, who hated the whole idea as a terrible mistake, had done nothing to make up the lack.

Which further proves the Duke of Parma's military sense since any such movement would have left a fleet of transports covering a gap of shallow water up to two miles wide where the Armada couldn't cover them and the Dutch fleet could.

Of course, the Duke also didn't like that his army was put on short rations and lost more than a third of its manpower while waiting more than a year for the Armada to arrive. This just after his army was at the peak of power AND had won significant victories against the Dutch, victories he naturally wished to expand on...but couldn't thanks to another foolish decision in Madrid.

Another problem, of course, was that the entire Spanish strategy was as stupid as it could get, with the only prospects for a victory at sea requiring the English to throw away all of their own advantages and rush to a boarding action with the Armada.


corditeman, what's with the complaining about Medinia-Sidonia? Given a most difficult task, one so unlikely to succeed that the Duke of Parma had written off the whole campaign before the Armada even set sail, he handled the campaign about as well as it could have been handled.
 
Does anyone remember that discovery of one of Elizabeth I's flag ships which appeared to show a high degree of standardization in the artillery (cannons and muskets) of the Royal Navy at the time?

There was a documentary on the search for some Elizabethan cannons in the channel, iirc.
 
Not executed; murdered (even if that's what i said- regardless, she ends up dead). And there's a lot of precedent for that in English history- William II Rufus, Edward II, Richard II, Edward V. Besides, she's a heretic, and a very, very dangerous one to keep alive. While she remains alive, the Spanish-dominated English throne is in danger. She doesn't have to be made an example of...Anne Somerset's essay on a successful Spanish Armada has the idea of her being strangled whilst in Spanish custody, no-one really believing she dies of natural causes. It would be stupid to leave Gloriana alive.
Didn't Turtledove keep her alive as prisoner in the Tower of London in his version? (yes, I know his moniker as "Master of Alternate History" is a little too undeserving, but hey :rolleyes:)

Oh yeah, has anyone finished said book? Ruled Britannia? I have it, but I dunno if it's worth the read, but from what I gather, Shakespeare leads a rebellion against Parma and co. :rolleyes:
 
Not executed; murdered (even if that's what i said- regardless, she ends up dead). And there's a lot of precedent for that in English history- William II Rufus, Edward II, Richard II, Edward V. .
But no precedent in Spanish history -the people that captured her and hold her.
She would either die years later a prisioner in a luxurious castle in Spain, or returned safely to James (now of England and Scotland) -which, given he does have quite a stake on ther (lack of) wellbeing, and murdered his mother, would kill her, either by murder or beheaded. But that would not be the ultracatholic Philip II ordering the death of his sister in law, and Queen of England.
 

Thande

Donor
I doubt she would lead the troops herself.
She was planning to in OTL. It wasn't completely unknown for a queen to do so, I believe Catherine of Aragon led troops against one of the Jameses while Henry VIII was fighting in France once.
 
She was planning to in OTL. It wasn't completely unknown for a queen to do so, I believe Catherine of Aragon led troops against one of the Jameses while Henry VIII was fighting in France once.
James IV - she presented his bloody shirt to Henry as a token for him. Never mess with royal women.
 
Didn't Turtledove keep her alive as prisoner in the Tower of London in his version? (yes, I know his moniker as "Master of Alternate History" is a little too undeserving, but hey :rolleyes:)

Oh yeah, has anyone finished said book? Ruled Britannia? I have it, but I dunno if it's worth the read, but from what I gather, Shakespeare leads a rebellion against Parma and co. :rolleyes:
I read it and enjoyed it more than any of his books since his earlies. One of his best all around. I can't attest to the historical plausibility (though I couldn't find any totally glaring errerz), but it was an entertaining read. Actually well thought out and organized and not just his usual stock POV characters.

BTW Shaxpur doesn't "lead" a revolt. Instead he's commissioned in secret to do a play on Boudica as a none-too-subtle dig on Spanish occupation. The play's debut serves as a signal and rally-cry for Bacon's secret uprising plans. Others lead the revolt, Shake's just an unwilling part of the plan.
 
Grimm Reaper. corditeman said:
Wot, me complaining ? Medina-Sidonia was one of history's gallant failureS. We in Britain can be thankful he failed.

As for Elizabeth and James Sixt and First, James had thrown off Calvinist controls, but remained hag-ridden by his upbringing for the rest of his life. I acknowledge that Elizabeth would have been on a sticky wicket going north, but her only other option would have been travelling to a Calvinist country Parma could not reach, maybe even in Scandinavia. As an exiled Queen issuing letters of marque to surviving English privateers, she would have continued to be a thorn in Phillip's side. Am I being too heavily influenced by Pirates of the Caribbean, here ? Or should we all recall that Elizabeth was the Great Survivor ?
 
Many a true word, etc.

Geekhis, Medina-Sidonia's motley fleet was up against the most modern ships in Europe - cannon fire was the new English naval weapon. Going after the fleet in Plymouth was logical, but it was liable to give Drake, Frobisher and Howard, a big fat target to rake with their own guns. If they go for the warships and leave the leaky transports alone, a sizeable number of English vessels would reach the open sea. Then, the tables would be turned; maybe Medina-Sidonia realised that it could result in his fleet being stuck in Plymouth. Interesting, not ?

Elizabeth, if forced to leave her army and London, would have the choices of going north to her nephew James, or maybe heading for Sweden aboard an English Navy vessel. With letters of marque from Elizabeth, the English Fleet could indeed singe the Spanish Main (what's the use of metaphors if you can't mix them ?) and share the loot with Elizabeth and the Calvinists. Every successful exile needs access to plenty of dosh, so maybe Spanish gold would keep Elizabeth afloat. I can see the Dutch and the Swedes making common cause with Elizabeth, maybe even using Calvinist connections to work James Sixt and First round to snubbing Phillip. So there is the Grand Plan - bleed Phillip dry and harass Parma until the Invasion withdraws.

Comments, folks ?
 
Geekhis, Medina-Sidonia's motley fleet was up against the most modern ships in Europe - cannon fire was the new English naval weapon. Going after the fleet in Plymouth was logical, but it was liable to give Drake, Frobisher and Howard, a big fat target to rake with their own guns. If they go for the warships and leave the leaky transports alone, a sizeable number of English vessels would reach the open sea. Then, the tables would be turned; maybe Medina-Sidonia realised that it could result in his fleet being stuck in Plymouth. Interesting, not ?

Elizabeth, if forced to leave her army and London, would have the choices of going north to her nephew James, or maybe heading for Sweden aboard an English Navy vessel. With letters of marque from Elizabeth, the English Fleet could indeed singe the Spanish Main (what's the use of metaphors if you can't mix them ?) and share the loot with Elizabeth and the Calvinists. Every successful exile needs access to plenty of dosh, so maybe Spanish gold would keep Elizabeth afloat. I can see the Dutch and the Swedes making common cause with Elizabeth, maybe even using Calvinist connections to work James Sixt and First round to snubbing Phillip. So there is the Grand Plan - bleed Phillip dry and harass Parma until the Invasion withdraws.

Comments, folks ?
corditeman


Some good points. Also, if Parma's army is in England, possibly isolated at least partially by Dutch and English ships, what's happening in the Netherlands? Spain needs to get a new army together there or get Parma back and find a way to hold England in his absence. Not going to be easy with their finances.

Similarly finances was the Achilles heel of Parma's army. Frequent mutinies because of lack of pay. Going to be even more fun getting gold to them in England.;) Likely to be a very nasty period for England but could be markedly earlier and more extreme imperial overstretch for Spain.

Steve
 
Possible collapse of Spanish hegemony ?

Steve,

Over-extension is the classical reason for kingdoms/empires collapsing. I had thought more about getting rid of Parma, but if the Dutch rebel again successfully, Spain is in trouble. The two most successful naval nations in Northern Europe - the Netherlands and England - could have beggared the Spanish Empire.

Parma's Army could have been so harassed that it was forced to leave, or to negotiate a way to do that. Remember that armies as late as the English Civil War surrendered with the 'honours of war', marching out with their muskets, swords and a portion of their property. Parma and his men might ultimately have been glad to leave a country they might have invaded successfully but were unable to hold.

The collapse of Parma's work in the Netherlands and in England would have been disastrous for Spain. It would also have endangered Spain's American possessions and thus opened up the possibility of colonial secession or native rebellion. I leave to enthusiastic Americans the assessment of the effects.

Frankly, I think that England and the Netherlands would have seized islands in the Caribbean, so Parma's invasion might end with an earlier seizure of Jamaica and other islands. The Dutch might win more than the few that they finally held, whilst Swedish acquisition of the Virgin Islands (after the US, Virgin no longer?;)) could have been repayment for supporting Elizabeth.

More comments appreciated !
 
The last time we discussed the Armada the consensus was that it would not have a lot of trouble conquering England. I personally believe that the Netherlands would profit most of it. With Parma and the Army of Flanders out of the way and Spain more overstretched than OTL, it would be a lot easier for the Dutch to recapture lost parts of the Netherlands (most importantly I guess Flanders and Brabant) and a couple of Spanish colonies. Meanwhile I guess a lot of English protestants fleeing from England would probably go to the Netherlands to continue to fight the good fight against the Spanish. In the end I think it would mean a larger Netherlands including most of (a protestant) Flanders. Also it would mean an advantage for the Dutch in the colonisation game as opposed to England, who will be struggling for independence for at least a couple of decades.
 
An irony in my sources is that the Spanish Armada actually came off much more lightly than it might have because the English were the only nation in the world with a fleet vaguely comparable to the line of battleships in the 17th-19th Centuries but had absolutely no doctrine as to how best use them.

Nelson or any of the top British commanders during the Napoleonic Wars would have come in close, wary for boarding action, and pounded the Spanish as hard as possible.

The English in 1588 did not even try this until the Battle of Gravelines, not because they had developed an entire operational doctrine but because the capture of two Spanish ships revealed that the Spanish guns could not be reloaded due to the mass of men and material on board.


The English ships had several advantages:

1) The English ships enjoyed superior design including greater length and narrower width(not the nautical terms, sorry) which not only made them more maneuverable but also permitted a greater weight of guns to be deployed for the same tonnage.

2) The English also had a much greater weight of and experience with guns of a longer range, a factor of obvious importance.

3) The English, as mentioned, had ports and bases much closer which the Spanish lacked entirely as they had no proper bases at all in the Spanish Netherlands and had to to travel the entire distance to England plus the Channel just to reach what few amenities the Duke of Parma did have.

4) As many as a third of the ships in the Armada were ships which quite simply had no business outside sheltered waters and discounting those reveals that the ships of the Armada actually effective in the Atlantic were outnumbered more than two to one(!) by the English ships. This was in addition to Spanish supply ships of dubious value in a fight.


In addition two other problems existed for the Spanish:

1) The Duke of Parma's army did not have even a dozen barges available to use. This plan put the Duke's army on short supplies and wages for a year and a half, the Armada having been slated to go in 1587 before Sir Francis Drake's raid on the coast of Spain. Since this delay reduced his army from 30,000 to 18,000 AND froze it just as he had won two important sieges, the Duke of Parma's ire was understandable. There was also another concern he had...

2) The Dutch fleet. If you look at a map you'll see Calais and Dunkirk are quite close to each other, significant because just as the Duke of Medina-Sidonia anchored off Calais and finally made contact with the Duke of Parma, a large fleet of Dutch flyboats was actually blockading Dunkirk!

pompejus mentioned possible Dutch gains but their absolute dream was not a Spanish landing in England but to catch Parma's army while helpless at sea or, more accurately, while going through miles of shallow water where Dutch flyboats could move and Spanish galleons could not. Barring a method never proposed to protect a fleet of transports carrying his army from such an attack the Duke of Parma was not embarking his army.
 
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