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Many a times we as an individual or a country limit ourselves in advancement, looking at the lead of another individual or a country.
In 16th century Spain was world’s leading maritime power, controlling Caribbean, Mexico and large parts of South America. Philip was King of Spain and his motto was “NON SUFFICIT ORBIS” meaning world is not enough. This has been taken from the satire of ‘Juvenal’ referring to ‘Alexander the Great’. James Bond adopted the family motto in the novel “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. It made a brief appearance in the film of the same name and was later used as the 19th James Bond film title.
When Spain was omnipotent power of the world ruling the seas, English had barely begun overseas operations. Colony for them(England) was Ireland, and Newfoundland was meant for fishing. English Queen was conscientious Elizabeth. Philip was always indulging in micromanagement whereas Elizabeth was champion of macro-management, and she was aware of this infirmity of Philip. Philip was a hedgehog and Elizabeth was a fox(as famously adumberated by Archilochus of Paros and essayed by Isaiah Berlin). She kept biding her time for right moment against vainglorious Philip. Her kairos moment came on 7th August 1588, when largest and strongest navy in the world laid siege to England. But luck was shining on England. It’s geography, favourable winds, a clever lord admiral and a few fiery ships with the blessings of exemplar queen changed the course of the history. The Spanish plan was half hearted, without any communication and execution planning, leaving a lot in god’s hands. To add to their vicissitudes Spain’s best admiral Santa Cruz had died and Duke of Medina Sidonia was to lead the Fleet, lacking seafaring skills. Sir Charles Howard, Elizabeth’s lord admiral took advantage of favourable winds to rig fire ships, forcing the armada to cut its anchor cables and disperse. English did not defeat the armada but they wore it down. Spanish sailed long way back home, defeated and dejected. Out of 129 ships which took part, 50 were lost and many were scrapped on return. Spain lost 15000 men, in contrast, English lost only 150 men.
Had Philip succeeded, all English voyages to America would have stopped and North America wouldn’t have been same what it is today. The failure of Spanish Armada laid the American continent open to invasions by Nothern Europeans and this made possible the creation of United States.
Despite Spain’s lead, Elizabeth refused to rush. She set the template of British America.