A Lead is not always a Victory

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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.

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93 thoughts

    1. Very interesting point of view and great clarity of thought Sandomina…look forward to your next post.

    2. Well written, Sandeep. Historical facts are always interesting to read and your writing made it even more. Thanks. Hope you will continue ahead on this scholarly journey.

  1. Wonderful piece of work … waiting for the next one . This paves the way to my introduction to world history . Thank you .

  2. Congratulations! Welcome to the world of Blogging. Very apt trivia from history that may inspire many in this generation of startups. Keep the thoughts flowing…..

  3. Intersting Read!! It’s always fun to read such historic events, and there must be umpteen such incidents which are unspoken. Thanks for it.

  4. Very well written piece about a chapter of world history that is not well known. Keep the thoughts flowing sir!!

  5. Commendable piece on history with a deep message. I am sure ink of SANDOMINA just got wet and flowing . Happy blogging buddy.

  6. I liked the thought behind your piece. Till it remained beaten at home, the Brits were cowed down. And lo behold what a victory can do to your spirits.The entire where the sun never sets was probably coined for the 16/ 17th century Spaniards & usurped rightfully 19/early 20th century Brits, who gleefully swept through most continents, beTing everyone in their path.
    Happy blogging.

  7. Great work. Choosing to blog on unknown portions of history is indeed unique. Keep them coming. Look forward to more.

  8. Sandy you have nicely brought out a very important aspect of leadership i.e. the ability to sniff out an opportunity and then seize it with both hands just like Elizabeth did. Something which should be stressed to all leaders even at the cost of failure. A very fluid and engrossing blog.

  9. An awesome writeup.
    In brief so well brought out from history that however superior be the men and material, the winner is the one who has a good plan and a good leader.
    Very well put down.👍

  10. Very valid insight, very well put together Sandy. Corroborating your article, ironically, is the fact that British empire has sunk to a UK, in danger of breaking apart, if Ireland and Scotland decide to separate. And America the colony? A big boy now.

  11. A very interesting article. One needs to learn from history and our intellectuals/ thinkers need to keep emphasising on the same

    1. You are absolutely correct, Chiru. George Orwell once famously said “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history”. That is exactly what has happened in the Indian subcontinent. Invaders destroyed Indian history and Pakistanis are destroying and denying their own. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. What a great blog! I’m interested in the history of all people and al time periods. You liked one of my blog posts and that’s how I found you. I’m glad I did. I’m going to be a follower and read up on your material. I like to check out a fresh perspective.

    1. That’s so kind of you Kenny for your wonderful review. You yourself have a wonderful website and I am going to check out each one of your posts. Warm regards.

    1. Thank you, Kundan, for your kind words. Do read other articles also. There is a lot of research I have done to bring out facts.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. You have an amazing website and wonderful articles. Warm regards.

  13. I’ve always been a lover of history but I think I kind of lost my passion after leaving undergraduate. Let’s see if it can be rekindled!! I think what made me love history is the fact that things can change very quickly! From this analysis we see how Spain lost their political standing to England. Interesting to say the least .

    1. Thank you so much, Nadesha, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. History and geopolitics are very interesting topics.

  14. This was an interesting piece of history specially since I´m Spanish. I think we conquered all the other countries in the world except North America, so we did great!
    Here is a theory that just came to my mind, what if the Spanish were feeling guilty of so much conquering people and decided out of the goodness of their heart to at least let the English have one. We were already ¨hummanitarians¨ back then.

    Again, very interesting post.

    1. Great thoughts Charly, whether true or not, God only knows, because history is written by the victor. The only thing which had happened for sure is inclement weather siding the Royal Navy. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thank you so much, Anamika, for stopping by and kind words. I have gone through your blog too and it’s a nice one. Regards.

  15. World is temporary and no success is everlasting. British Empire has lost most of its possession. But I think, majority of the time, who takes lead at earliest (significant contribution) wins the race.
    Take Microsoft, for instance.

    1. That’s so wonderfully put across by you Abhay. Though a lead gives the advantage, it is the leader of the day’s duty to keep producing leaders for the future. Or else biggest of the empires have vanished due to lack of leadership or new ideas.

    1. That’s so kind of you Namrata. I used to have reblog button but after I switched to business plan, its funny that they removed the button. And now there is no option to select that. I am on a very intense assignment for next 8 months, so unfortunately would not be publishing any article for that period. Warm regards.

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