Sir Francis DrakeAs we have already learned in a previous post, Francis Drake was pretty busy in 1579:

In the hopes of finding his way back to the Atlantic Ocean, and back to England, Francis Drake traveled northwards up the western coast of South America, sailing further than any European before him.

But what else was happening at this moment in time? Let’s take a look at some of the important things that happened in that year!

Elizabeth and MaryJanuary

On January 6, 1579, an accord known as the Union of Atrecht was signed. This united the southern Netherlands under the Duke of Parma, in the name of king Philip II of Spain. This is the same King Philip who was originally married to Queen Mary I of England and went on to (unsuccessfully) propose to her sister, Elizabeth I.

17 days later, on January 23, the northern Netherlands were united by the Union of Utrecht in a confederation known as the United Provinces. The title of Stadholder was given to William I of Orange, while that of hereditary sovereign was given to the Duc d’Anjou, the younger brother of Henry III of France.


Very little of interest happened in February 1579, other than the death of Nicholas Bacon on the 20th. Bacon was an English politician with the title of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, as well as the father of the more famous Francis Bacon.


In March 1579, Maastricht (capital city of Limburg, Netherlands) was invaded by the Spanish under Parma. The city was run by the Spanish crown for over 50 years.


Elizabeth IApril was another quiet month, rocked only by the death of John Stuart, the 4th Earl of Atholl. Stuart supported the proposed marriage of James Hamilton, 3rd Earl of Arran, to Queen Elizabeth I in a bid to cement Scotland’s partnership with England. However, Elizabeth formally declared her rejection of his suit on 8 December 1560 to the Scottish ambassadors William Maitland, the Earl of Morton and the Earl of Glencairn.


On May 25, 1579, things began to kick off on the other side of the world during the Battle of Mimaomote, Japan. At this stage, Doi Kiyonaga defeated the forces of Kumu Yorinobu.


On June 17, 1579, we saw Francis Drake land in what we know call California during his circumnavigation of the globe, claiming it for Queen Elizabeth I. Combined with the English claim in Newfoundland, this was the basis of the English colonial charters which claimed that all land from the Atlantic to the Pacific should belong to England. The land claimed by Drake became known as “Nova Albion” or “New England”. All maps published after this point showed the lands north of New Spain and New Mexico marked under this name.


On July 13, 1579, Karlovac in Croatia was founded.

However, more relevant to our Tudors were the events that happened 3 days later, on July 16. On this day, James FitzMaurice FitzGerald landed at Smerwick on the Dingle peninsula in the south-west of Ireland with a small force of Irish, Spanish and Italian troops. This was the beginning of the Second Desmond Rebellion, which fought against Elizabeth I’s rule in Ireland.


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