Drake's Early Campagins, 1570-77
Queen Elizabeth had her own grudges with Spain, and so gave Drake permission to go back and plunder Spanish possessions. A number of such campaigns in the early 1570s ended in his capturing a great quantity of silver at Nombre de Dios. With this action, he went from a simple pirate to engaging in ‘full-blooded war campaigns.’ He even enlisted, and generously rewarded, the communities of runaway slaves in Spanish territory for their assistance.
Drake's World Voyage
It was during the Nombre de Dios raid that Drake, looking across the mountains of Panama, saw the Pacific Ocean. And in 1578 he received Elizabeth’s leave to visit it. Daring the treacherous Strait of Magellan, he gained access to the Peruvian coast where Spain’s massive silver revenues were mined. After spectacular surprise raids, including the capture of a treasure-laden warship twice the size of his own Golden Hinde, he headed homeward through the East Indies, and became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. He returned home, returning 4700% on the investment of his backers, and himself wealthy and a national hero.
The Spanish Armada
Fed up with England’s piracy and Protestantism, in 1588 the Spanish launched their famous Armada to invade England. English seamanship had flourished in the age of privateers, and Drake captured a galleon of the Armada and was one of the principal admirals responsible for England’s victory.
Decline and Death
That, however, was the apex of Drake’s glories. In the 1590s he took part in the disastrous counter-invasion of Spain, and, returning to the Caribbean, found that the Spanish had fortified their ports against him. Stricken with dysentery, Drake died near Cuba in 1596.
Drake’s example set the example for privateers for a hundred years after him, although the line between privateer and pirate would become increasingly vague with time.
Read more at Suite101: The Life of Sir Francis Drake: The Beginning of Caribbean Piracy http://www.suite101.com/content/the-life-of-sir-francis-drake-a130220#ixzz1C2Xjehgt
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