Sir Francis Drake was an English admiral who circumnavigated the globe – and is recognised as the most renowned seaman of the Elizabethan Age.
Drake joined one of the first English slaving voyages as part of a fleet led by his cousin John Hawkins in 1567, bringing African slaves to work in the ‘New World’.
All but two ships of the expedition were lost when the fleet was attacked by the Spanish – who thus became a lifelong enemy for Drake.
Sir Francis Drake was an English sailor who circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580
In 1572, the seaman commanded two vessels in a marauding expedition against Spanish ports in the Caribbean. He captured the port of Nombre de Dios on the Isthmus of Panama, and returned to England with a cargo of Spanish treasure.
Following the success of the raid, Drake was secretly commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I to set off from what is now known as Drake’s Island on an expedition against the Spanish colonies in 1577.
Drake reached the Pacific Ocean in October 1578 with only one of his five boats, the Pelican, remaining. He was the first Englishman to navigate the Straits of Magellan.
The seaman used plans created by Sir Richard Grenville, an English sailor who died at the Battle of Flores in 1591, in his expedition.
He travelled up the length of the South American coast, plundering Spanish ports, and hoping to find a route to the Atlantic Ocean.
Drake navigated further up the west coast of America than any European before him, landing on the coast of California in June 1579.
He then turned south in July 1579 and beginning a voyage across the Pacific with his lone ship, now renamed the Golden Hind.
A few months later, he reached Moluccas, a group of islands in the western Pacific, in eastern modern-day Indonesia.
On 26 September, the Golden Hind sailed back into Plymouth with Drake and his 59 remaining crew aboard, along with a rich cargo of spices and captured Spanish treasures.
The sailor was hailed as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth, and he was knighted aboard his ship in April 1581.