Armada Guns: A Comparative Study of English and Spanish Armament Part VI Comparisons

By Michael Lewis, published May 1943


This  part of the series of articles  compares the armaments of the English and Spanish fleets in the Armada campaign. A detailed analysis reveals that previous assumptions are flawed. The Spanish fleet fired a total weight of shot at least equal to the English, and with fewer pieces, they fired heavier balls shot for shot. Contrary to previous belief, the Spanish were not lightly armed. Their armament was formidable in terms of weight. Nor were they lightly provisioned with powder or shot.By comparing the total numbers of ships and the Cannon, Perier and Culverin armaments of the English and Spanish fleets’ the essential differences in the gun policies of the two countries may be deduced. Whilst the Spanish carried three times as many Cannons as the English and seven times as many Periers, in Culverins the English were nearly three times as strong. By the comparison of weight-of-shot the Spaniards went for heavies compared with the English light, but by comparing range the English went for long whilst the Spaniards were content with short. A printed list, La Felicissima Armada, dated 20th May 1588, held in the British Museum, gives the total number of Spanish pieces as 2630; whilst the official Relacion Sumaria, dated 14th May 1588, gives a slightly lower figure of 2431. Further investigation reveals that the Spaniards intended to crush the English first with heavy battering fire, then to board and enter where they could then use their great advantage in soldiery. The English, with their greater gun range, did not permit this.

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Filed under: Tudors | English Channel | The Armada
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies | Weapons

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