sir francis drake (middle)

10 Fascinating Facts about Sir Francis Drake

Known for his bravery, exploration, and multiple achievements, it’s no wonder people still speak of the legendary Sir Francis Drake today, even centuries after his voyaging ended. But how much do you know about the once-great knight? Here are some fun facts about Sir Francis Drake.

1. He lived in the 16th Century.

Sir Francis Drake is thought to have been born around 1540 in Tavistock, Devon, England. He died on January 28, 1596, off the coast of Panama.

2. He began his career at an early age.

Sir Francis Drake began his maritime career at an early age. He started by sailing with his relatives in the coastal trade, and later served on ships involved in slave trading and military expeditions.

3. He sailed around the world – he was among the first to do so.

Sir Francis Drake is probably most famous for having been the very first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. He achieved this feat from 1577 to 1580 aboard the ship known as the Golden Hind. His circumnavigation of the globe involved mapping uncharted territories.

facts about sir francis drake

4. He was a privateer, too.

Drake was also known for being a successful privateer. He used to carry out raids against Spanish ships and settlements in the Caribbean. However, his actions famously contributed to the tensions between England and Spain.

5. He was feared among many people at sea!

Sir Francis eventually gained a reputation for being cunning and to be feared. This was largely due to his exploits in the Caribbean and along the Spanish Main.

6. He helped defeat the Spanish

Sir Francis Drake played an important role in the English triumph over the Spanish Armada in 1588. Not only did he command the English fleet as Vice Admiral, but he was also responsible for initiating the “singeing the King of Spain’s beard” by using fire ships.

7. He eventually became a knight.

Francis Drake was eventually knighted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1581 aboard the Golden Hind, recognizing his achievements and contributions to England’s naval power. In so doing, he became forever known as Sir Francis Drake.

8. He set off on a second tour around the world.

Sir Francis Drake led a second expedition to the West Indies in 1585. However, his voyage was less successful due to disease and lack of resources. The expedition, however, supposedly laid the foundation for English colonization in the Americas.

facts about sir francis drake

9. Drake died during an expedition.

Drake conducted an expedition against Spanish territories in Panama in 1595. However, the expedition was not as successful, and Drake fell ill, dying of dysentery off the coast of Panama in 1596. He was then buried at sea in a lead coffin off of Portobelo, Panama, in accordance with his wishes.

10. He left a complex legacy!

Sir Francis Drake’s legacy is a complicated one. While he is still celebrated in England by many for his maritime achievements and his contributions to England and its history, he is also viewed less favorably in Spanish history and American history due to his activities as a privateer and the ways in which he succeeded. Many historians, therefore, look at his achievements objectively – he made some huge leaps for the English, but at some scurrilous costs.

facts about sir francis drake
A replica of his galleon in Brixham

FAQs about Sir Francis Drake

Was Sir Francis Drake a pirate?

While to most, Sir Francis Drake was known as a privateer, to others, he was seen as more of a pirate. In fact, many noted him as the Queen’s favorite pirate. Not all pirates wear eyepatches and skull-and-crossbones hats!

Did Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh know each other?

It is believed that Sir Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh may have known each other due to their proximity for a time in England; however, for the moment, it is completely unknown whether or not that was the case.

Who was Sir Francis Drake’s enemy?

Generally speaking, it could be said that the Spanish, and most notably the Spanish Armada, were the enemies of Sir Francis Drake and him theirs. Much of Drake’s conquests surrounded fierce confrontations between his English men and the Spanish forces. As such, he’s not looked upon as a hero in Spanish-speaking countries.

Further reading:

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This page was last modified on December 7, 2023. Suggest an edit

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