Today in 1580

Sir Francis Drake’s ship ‘The Golden Hind’ drops anchor off Plymouth Hoe after his epic 33 month circumnavigation of the globe.  However, if you dig below the surfaace you find that Drake’s expedition, which originally set sail in 1577, had more on its mind than peaceful exploration.  On paper, the objective was to pass around South America via the Strait of Magellan and explore the costline beyond.  The unofficial objective (and one endorsed by Queen Elizabeth I of England) was to cause the Spanish as much grief as possible.  To quote Her Majesty: ‘”We would gladly be revenged on the King of Spain for divers injuries that we have received.”

Drake took her at her word and by the time the Hind got back to Plymouth she carried Spanish treasure worth £7million in todays money.  Just to put that in perspective, Queen Elizabeth’s cut of the loot allowed her to pay off England’s entire foreign debt and still have enough left over to pump prime a new Levantine trading company.  To put it bluntly, those who invested in Drake’s expedition saw a £47 return on every £1 invested.


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