Sir Francis Drake

(1540-1596)

There were many famous sailors during the Tudor period. They wanted to explore new lands, find new trading routes and look for gold, precious stones and spices. These explorers faced many dangers from storms, rocky coasts and unfriendlynatives.

When the Tudors started to explore the world, they often found the Spanish had got there first. Although Spain and England were not openly at war, they were already enemies, so Queen Elizabeth I did not stop English sailors from attacking the Spanish treasure ships.

In 1577 Drake left Plymouth in the Golden Hind to sail around the world. He was the first person from England to do this. He planned to trade goods and also rob the Spanish ships of the treasure they were taking back to Spain. The Golden Hind became laden with gold and silver bars, jewels, silks and linen. The voyage took three years and some sailors died at sea. Most died from scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vegetables and other fresh foods. When Drake returned, Elizabeth I knighted him for his bravery and he became known as Sir Francis Drake. The Englishmen thought him a hero, but the Spanish called him a pirate.