April 4, 2011

Francis Drake Becomes Sir Francis Drake – 1581

A year earlier, English sea captain Francis Drake had become the first expedition leader to travel all the way around the world. (Ferdinand Magellan is famous for being the first to circle the globe, but although some of the ships and men in his expedition did succeed in the task, he died in the Philippines.)

Seven years afterwards, Sir Francis Drake would help save the British navy from the Spanish Armada.

But on this date in 1581, Francis Drake was knighted on board his ship, the Golden Hind, by Queen Elizabeth I.

Sir Francis Drake was a hero—that is, to the English people he was a hero. He can also be described as a ruthless, thieving pirate and a slave trader. He was such an enemy of Spain that King Philip II offered the equivalent of six and a half MILLION (U.S.) dollars as a reward for his capture or death.

Explore some more here and there.  (On the latter website, click the picture of Queen Elizabeth knighting Drake to get started.)

See a photo gallery of the replicated ship the Golden Hind here

Did you know...?

We know that, during Drake's trip around the world, he landed somewhere in Northern California—probably in what we now call Drake's Bay, near Point Reyes. In 1936, a brass plate claiming “this kingdome” for “Herr Maiesty Qveen Elizabeth of England” came to the attention of the world. Historians immediately doubted whether this plate was real—the wording, spelling, and manufacture of the plate seemed doubtful to experts. However, when one study concluded it was real, many people assumed that it was a genuine sixteenth century artifact. This conclusion was believed for about forty years.

However, in the 1970s the plate was looked at again. Scientists ran tests and concluded that it was a modern creation—and therefore a hoax—and historians came up with a theory as to who made the fake plate, and why: It was apparently created for a prank that several Californian historians meant to play on a member of their historian society—meant to be kept private, meant to be revealed as a prank almost immediately. A series of unfortunate events conspired to spin the prank out of the pranksters' control!

I spotted this fun amateur video about two kids searching for the Drake's Plate. Check it out! 

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