An analytical perspective on the ‘Armada Portrait’

Painted in 1588, the Armada Portrait sums up the devastating or triumphant events of the same year, depending on the view you take. Elizabeth I successfully fought off the Spanish Catholic threat that was openly supported by Pope Sixtus V and led by King Philip II.

The Queen herself is portrayed as a heroic warrior, which is illustrated through the paintings of the jubilant happenings within the naval war within the portrait, giving a dramatic insight of another place and time in the painting.  Elizabeth’s face is…

Source: An analytical perspective on the ‘Armada Portrait’

Before and After the Armada – by Ann Swinfen

The defeat of the enormous and well-trained Spanish Armada fleet by the smaller English fleet in the English Channel during the summer of 1588 is probably one of the most famous naval battles in history, along with Salamis, Lepanto and Trafalgar, not least because the outcome hung in the balance until a strong southwest wind drove the Spanish ships into the North Sea.

As the English said afterwards, in thankfulness mixed with perhaps a touch of complacency, ‘God blew his winds and they were scattered’.

However, events before and after the great battle, which culminated off Gravelines, are rather less well known. Elsewhere in this blog I have written about the retaliatory expedition by England against Spain in 1589, known as the Counter Armada ( but other events surrounding this iconic date are…

Source: Before and After the Armada – by Ann Swinfen

The Capture of Puerto Bello in 1739

A little more about one of my forebears from the British History Facebook page.


The Capture of Puerto Bello, ‪#‎OnThisDay‬ in 1739, by George Chambers Senior c. 1836

In the summer of 1739, during a debate in the House of Commons relating to the deteriorating situation with Spain in the West Indies, Captain Edward Vernon claimed he could take the Spanish town of Puerto Bello, Panama, on the north side of the Isthmus of Darien with six ships of the line. He was taken at his word, promoted to Vice-Admiral and given six ships to redeem his pledge. The war became known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear. The main obstacle to be overcome was the Iron Castle at the northern side of the entrance to the harbour. Vernon succeeded in taking the town and in…

The Mad Monarchist: Monarch Profile: King Ferdinand I of the Two-Sicilies

Originally posted on The Mad Monarchist.

The reign of the Spanish over southern Italy and the island of Sicily, in its last instance, can be traced back to their seizure from the Austrian Hapsburgs during the War of the Polish Succession. At that time, the son of King Philip V of Spain, Charles, was placed on the throne. He had previously been Duke of Parma before moving to Naples as part of the constant struggles and trade deals between the great powers over the states of the Italian peninsula. Eventually, he succeeded his brother as King Charles III of Spain (Carlos III) and so he passed the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily to one of his sons, Ferdinand, who had been born in Naples on January 12, 1751. He was to preside over a time of immense tumult, trepidation and transition in the history of southern Italy, ending ultimately in the creation of a new political entity called the Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies. Little Ferdinand was only in his eighth year when he became King Ferdinand IV of Naples and III of Sicily when his father became King of Spain. King Charles III was forbidden by treaty from continuing to rule over all three kingdoms personally so choosing his third son to succeed him in Naples was a way of ensuring that the Spanish Bourbon dynasty would still retain the crown.

Obviously, as a small child at the time, actual power remained in the hands of the King of Spain or those officials appointed by him to administer southern Italy. At the head of the local government was a council of regency led by…

via The Mad Monarchist: Monarch Profile: King Ferdinand I of the Two-Sicilies.

Germaine de Foix, Queen of Aragon, Naples, Sardinia, Navarre and Sicily and Vicereine of Valencia

The Freelance History Writer

Germaine de Foix Germaine de Foix

Ferdinand of Aragon was married to Isabella of Castile for thirty-five years. When Isabella died, the wily king was in his early fifties and for political reasons decided he wanted a new bride even though he had promised Isabella he would never marry again. He looked to the French for a bride in an attempt to make an alliance that would irritate his son-in-law Philip of Burgundy. It just so happened King Louis XII had a teenaged niece, Germaine de Foix, who was a good candidate to be the new wife for the Aragonese king.

Germaine was born in 1488, the daughter of John of Foix, Viscount of Narbonne and son of Queen Eleanor of Navarre. Germaine’s mother was Marie of Orléans, a sister of King Louis XII of France. Germaine and her brother Gaston grew up in the family home until they were orphaned in 1492…

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A Time to Die – the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily

The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife

The history books about Sicily have little to say about the time of the Spanish rule. I find this strange, because the Spanish changed Sicily more than any other conqueror. The way they wanted this island is the way it still is: the Sicilians just cannot seem to shake them off.

Prickly pears Prickly pears

Some history books do tell us they brought tomatoes, which the Sicilians planted around Etna and with everything. They brought cocoa beans which the Sicilians of Modica still make into bars of raw chocolate using the Aztec recipe the Spanish conquistadores taught them. They brought the potato, and made Sicilians such an island of chip-lovers that they even invented the chip pizza. They created the Sicilian baroque style of architecture which is unique to this island, is found all over it, and is so spectacularly beautiful it has made six baroque Sicilian towns into a UNESCO…

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How the Civil War Changed the World –

Giuseppe Garibaldi Credit Library of Congress

Even while the Civil War raged, slaves in Cuba could be heard singing, “Avanza, Lincoln, avanza! Tu eres nuestra esperanza!” (Onward, Lincoln, Onward! You are our hope!) – as if they knew, even before the soldiers fighting the war far to the North and long before most politicians understood, that the war in America would change their lives, and the world.

The secession crisis of 1860-1861 threatened to be a major setback to the world antislavery movement, and it imperiled the whole experiment in democracy. If slavery was allowed to exist, and if the world’s leading democracy could fall apart over the issue, what hope did freedom have? European powers wasted no time in taking advantage of the debacle. France and Britain immediately each sent fleets of warships with the official purpose of observing the imminent war in America. In Paris, A New York Times correspondent who went by the byline “Malakoff” thought that the French and British observers “may be intended as a sort of escort of honor for the funeral of the Great Republic.”

Spain, its fleets already in position in Havana, struck first that March, landing in the Dominican Republic and proclaiming that its former colony had returned to Spanish rule. Seeing no sign of resistance from the Lincoln administration, France, Spain and Britain met in…

via How the Civil War Changed the World –

‘Latest, Largest & Finest’: 100yo Titanic relic emerges in Spain — RT News

Originally posted on RT News.

An original plaque, commemorating the launch of the Titanic, has resurfaced in the Spanish city of Granada. The relic disappeared about 100 years ago and had been considered lost until now.

The Royal Mail Steamship Union presented a silver and bronze plaque on April 9th, 1912, to the mayor and leader of the shipyard where the ship was built.

The plaque, weighing 1.8kg and measuring 28cm by 37cm, had a small light that illuminated a small window where the image of the Titanic appeared. It also carried the date of the doomed ship’s departure – April 10, 1912, from Southampton, England, to New York, US.

“This, the Latest, Largest and Finest Steamer Afloat,” read the words on the relic.

The president of the shipyard where the vessel was built kept the ill-fated liner’s artifact. Subsequently, it was lost for about a century. However, 12 years ago a British man went to an art dealer in Barcelona to sell the plaque “because he needed money.” He apparently didn’t know the relic’s value.

“The man brought the plaque to the Barcelona art merchant in a plastic bag and tried to sell it,” the president of the Titanic Foundation Jesus Ferreiro told the Local. “Neither of them knew what it was, so naturally the merchant…

via ‘Latest, Largest & Finest’: 100yo Titanic relic emerges in Spain — RT News.

The Dutch and King Philip’s War: Thwarting the Postal Service Since 1673

The History Bandits

“A close correspondency,” and “A more speedy Intelligence and Dispatch of Affayres.” These phrases embodied the reasoning behind Royal Governor of New York Francis Lovelace’s establishment of a postal service in 1672 at the behest of King Charles II. The English colonies had sought the creation of an official postal system as early as 1638, which King Charles I denied.  Bostonians, realizing the importance of increased communication as their colony grew, established one anyways at their own expense. Less than half a century later, King Charles II would also realize the importance of increased inter-colonial communication amidst countries warring for New World land. His insight would lead to the Boston Post Road, a series of trodden paths connecting Boston to New York City.


The paths that comprised the Boston Post Road began as Native American trails. Each November Native Americans would “pave” the paths by a process the Dutch termed…

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Shipwrecked in Japan, 1609 | History Today

Originally posted on History Today.

Portrait of Tokugawa Ieyasu

Europeans first reached Japan in 1543 and, until their final expulsion in 1639, they sent back a good deal of fascinating information about the remote island kingdom. Many of these accounts were written by Jesuit missionaries; and for the most part they are contained piecemeal in their letters to Europe.

A notable exception is to be found in the narrative of Don Rodrigo de Vivero y Velasco, an observant layman and experienced administrator.

After an unscheduled stay of ten months in Japan in 1609-10, Vivero wrote a concise report of his experience, and as an honoured guest of the Japanese authorities, he was able to…

via Shipwrecked in Japan, 1609 | History Today.

The Importance of Waterloo-200 years later

Military History

June 18 was the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo and Europe is abuzz (at least western Europe) with a major reenactment event occurring this weekend (they are even live-streaming it). There is no doubt of the importance of the battle to history, but its importance remains today. It cemented Britain’s position in the world for the next hundred years and laid the foundations for Europe as we now it today. It represented the defeat of the ideals of revolutionary France, much to the relief of monarchists across Europe. Time discussed the importance of the battle, while The Telegraph provided several great stories on the event, including advocating the study of the battle by students. Despite such major subsequent events in military history, as both World Wars, the Cold War, and the current War on Terror, why do we still gravitate to Waterloo?

One reason is because of its…

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70th Anniversary of the Liberation of #Mauthausen. A chronicle.

Just Olga

Hi all:

As you’ll remember I’ve written about my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret several times before and recently I interviewed my cousin, Joan Molet, who told us how he had started his research and the work he does now as part of the Amical Mauthausen. I told you then that a few weeks later would be the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the camp and thanks to Joan, who attended the events, I can tell you a bit about it (and share his pictures).

Two groups of the Amical departed (one from Madrid and one from Barcelona) towards Vienna on Friday the 8th of May. There were around 130 people, including members of the Amical and students of schools in Aragon and Catalonia.

El Castillo de Hartheim Hartheim Castle

In the afternoon they visited Hartheim Castle, where they used to perform what they called ‘project T4’…

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Chemical Warfare During the Napoleonic Wars | ReginaJeffers’s Blog

Originally posted on ReginaJeffers’s Blog.

In 1812, Prince George received a plan outlining the use of “unusual” methods to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte. The plan came to the future George IV from Captain Sir Thomas, Lord Cochrane. At the time, Wellesley’s successes in Spain were sporadic, and the Royal Navy struggled with the blockades of French ports. Cochrane’s plan offered hopes of a quick victory over the French.

Cochrane quickly rose through the naval ranks from midshipman to lieutenancy (earned in three short years) and later received command of his own ship, the HMS Speedy. Although the Speedy was but a 14 cannon sloop, Cochrane managed to capture the Spanish frigate Gamo, for which he earned praise. Cochrane possessed strategic cunning, which should have served him well in his position, but he also possessed the uncanny ability to “insult” his superiors by pointing out their shortcomings.

Fortunately for Cochrane, Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville, arrived in London in 1804 as First Lord of the Admiralty. Melville presented Cochrane with the command of the frigate Pallas and permission to patrol the North Atlantic waters. Within two months, Cochrane earned 75,000 pounds sterling in prize money. Napoleon marked Cochrane with the name “The Sea Wolf.” [le loupe des mers]

Needless to say a person with such charisma cannot sustain the favor of the Crown for long. Part of Cochrane’s woes came via the court martial trial of Admiral James Gambier after the action at Aix Roads in 1809. Cochrane managed to drive all but two of the French ships ashore during the battle. The battle lasted for three days, but it failed to…

via Chemical Warfare During the Napoleonic Wars | ReginaJeffers’s Blog.

Massive 13-metre Waterloo Cartoon emerges from Royal Academy stores for Waterloo Bicentenary | Culture24

Originally posted on Culture24

Daniel Maclise, RA, Cartoon for 'The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher After the Battle of Waterloo' (1858-1859) (detail) © Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Limited

Daniel Maclise, RA, Cartoon for ‘The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher After the Battle of Waterloo’ (1858-1859) (detail)
© Royal Academy of Arts, London. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Limited

At more than 13 metres wide and three metres high, The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo, 1858-1859, is also one of the largest and most detailed cartoons to survive in the UK.

Completed when the Battle of Waterloo was still in living memory, it took Maclise more than a year to complete and involved extensive research.

The artist studied eye-witness accounts to ensure his depiction was plausible and at one point Queen Victoria and Prince Albert even became involved in the process, using their contacts in Germany to gather information from Prussian officers who were present on the day.

The resulting work, which was made as a study for a fresco painting that now hangs in the art gallery of the House of Lords, is still remarkable for its lack of triumphalism and the stoicism of Wellington and Blücher when faced with the reality and tragedy of war.

It was rightly considered a masterpiece of its time, bought by the Royal Academy in 1870 – the year of Maclise’s death – and shown at Burlington House until the 1920s. But the fragility of the artwork means it has remained in storage for much of the last century.

Now, after an Arts Council funded conservation, the vast work is about to be displayed again in a brace of…

via Massive 13-metre Waterloo Cartoon emerges from Royal Academy stores for Waterloo Bicentenary | Culture24.

Remains of Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, ‘identified in convent’

Tribalmystic Stories

0384d459-cbe2-4973-9555-0f85ee2d5160-2060x1236 The parts of a casket discovered at Madrid’s Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Spain says it has unearthed the apparent remains of the literary giant Miguel de Cervantes in a Madrid convent almost 400 years after his death.

In a Guardian report, Anthropologist Francisco Etxebarria said after a year-long search his team had positively identified “some fragments” of the Don Quixote author in an alcove in a convent crypt.

Though there is no genetic proof of the find at this stage, Etxebarria’s anthropologists and archaeologists said they were confident on the basis of the documentary research they carried out.

In January the team announced the discovery of part of a casket at Madrid’s Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians during excavations aimed at solving the mystery of the writer’s final resting place.

Cervantes is recorded as having been buried at the convent’s chapel in the centre of the…

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