See G. Mattingly, The Armada (1959); A. McKee, From Merciless Invaders (1964); W. Graham, The Spanish Armadas (1972).
Great fleet sent by Philip II of Spain in 1588 to invade England in conjunction with a Spanish army from Flanders. Philip was motivated by a desire to restore the Roman Catholic faith in England and by English piracies against Spanish trade and possessions. The Armada, commanded by the duke of Medina-Sidonia, consisted of about 130 ships. In the weeklong battle, the Spanish suffered defeat after the English launched fire ships into the Spanish fleet, breaking the ships' formation and making them susceptible to the English ships' heavy guns. Many Spanish ships were also lost during the long voyage home, and a total of perhaps 15,000 Spaniards died. The defeat of the Armada, in which Francis Drake played a principal role, saved England and the Netherlands from possible absorption into the Spanish empire.
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In etymological origin, armada is a Spanish word meaning "armed" in the feminine form. It is used in many Spanish-speaking nations as the title of the national naval force (other Spanish-speaking countries use marina [English: navy] or marina de guerra [English: war navy]). Mexico uses the variation Marina Armada (Armed Navy) for the Mexican Navy. The word has evolved to mean a military navy or fleet in its English language use.
In Spanish the word armada also appears in other military contexts, such as fuerzas armadas (English: armed forces). El Salvador uses the term Fuerza Armada de El Salvador, in English Armed Force of El Salvador.