This week, our Roguish Rake is none other than Sir Francis Drake. He bagn his sailing career early, sailing to the New World in 1563, when he was only 23. In 1568, Drake was nearly captured by the Spanish in the English defeat at San Juan de Ulua. From that moment on, Drake vowed to get even with the Spanish.
|The "Drake Jewel"|
Elizabeth I sent Drake on many "voyages," resulting in many tons of Spanish gold and silver. When Drake finally returned to England, they carried a treasure trove. Elizabeth' half of the treasure surpassed the crown's annual income! Despite this, Elizabeth regarded Drake's voyage as classified. She did not want the Spanish to know she supported his efforts against them. However, she did knight him on April 4, 1581. Elizabeth also gave Drake a jeweled portrait. It still survives today, known today as the "Drake Jewel."
He became a hero in Elizabethan England, serving as second in command during the attack by the Spanish Armada. According to tradition, Drake was playing a game of bowls when he was warned of the approaching Spanish felt. He calmly sated that there was plenty of time to finish his game and beat the Spanish. In 1595/6, Drake led several unsuccessful campaigns against the Spanish off the South American coast. At one point, a cannon ball even flew through Drake's cabin. However, he continued. In Jan. 1596, Drake died of dysentery at the age of 55. He was buried at sea, dressed in his full armor, in a lead coffin.
Drake was affectionately known as a hero, knight, and, most cleverly, a privateer to the English. However, he was a rake, villain, and, worst of all, a pirate to the Spanish.
What think ye? Hero, or Pirate?