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3.jpg| 150px|thumbnail|left| King Phillip II of Spain-mortal enemy of Elizabeth I]]
The defeat and destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588 is seen by many as the high point of Elizabeth I’s of England’s reign. If the Armada had been successful, it could have changed the course of English and world history. The defeat of the Armada had profound consequences for England. The first consequence of the English victory was that it secured its independence.
In the sixteenth century, Europe was divided into two mutually hostile religious groups. The Northern Europe was dominated by Protestants regimes and the south was mainly Catholic. England had become an increasing Protestant state by the mid-sixteenth century. Contrary to popular belief, Catholicism had been popular in England before the Reformation and many people still sympathized with what they called the ‘old religion.’<ref> Duffy, E. <i>[https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0300108281/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0300108281&linkCode=as2&tag=dailyh0c-20&linkId=b06f0eb9358da3a5da4c6146421bcff6 Stripping of the Altars]</i> (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 113</ref> Queen Elizabeth the First initially pursued a moderate religious policy to minimize religious conflict between Catholic and Protestant. However, Elizabeth soon found herself under pressure from Spain - the preeminent Catholic power in the world at that time. Spain's influence reach stretched across Europe and into the Americas.
The Spanish King Phillip II was an ardent Catholic and he had two primary ambitions. First, he wanted to return all Protestants back to the Catholic faith. Second, he hoped to to expand the growing power of Spain. The Spanish King had been married to Mary I of England and it seemed that for a time that England would fall under Spanish influence. However, the coronation of Elizabeth I had fundamentally altered this dynamic because she was determined to maintain England's independence from Spain. Spain, on the hand, wanted to force the English back into the Catholic fold and end the attacks of English pirates on their ships and colonies in the Americas.
====The Armada and Religion====
Phillip II wanted to return England to Catholicism. If the Armada had been successful then it seems likely that a Catholic king or queen would have been placed on the throne. They would have had the power to overturn the Protestant establishment in the country. No longer would the Church of England be the state church and once again the Catholic Church would have been the only recognized religion. Phillip II believed that it was right for a monarch to ensure religious conformity in their kingdom. The new Catholic monarch probably would have persecuted Protestants in much the same way as Mary I had during her reign. With Catholicism reestablished this could have hobbled Protestantism in England.
The defeat of the Armada was a major turning point in English history. It saved the throne of Elizabeth I and guaranteed English independence from Spain. The Spanish saw the invasion as a crusade and one that would stamp out the heresy of Protestantism in England. The failure of the invasion meant that Protestantism became more entrenched and less sympathetic to Catholicism. Indeed, in the aftermath of the Armada, Protestantism became part of the national identity. To be English was to be a Protestant and to reject Catholicism. The attempted Spanish invasion led to the adoption of an anti-Catholic discourse, known as Popery and this was an important factor in English political life for over two centuries. The Armada did not end Spanish maritime supremacy but it did lead to England becoming a formidable naval power. This allowed it to found colonies and trading companies in the early seventeenth century that were to lay the foundation for the British Empire.
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