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Battle of Cornwall

Posted to Maritime Musings (by on February 26, 2013

The only successful, albeit temporary, Spanish invasion of England

 The Anglo-Spanish War ran intermittently from 1585 until signing of the Treaty of London in 1604.  The Spanish Armada of 1588 is remembered as the seminal event of the conflict, but there were numerous other armed confrontations.  One of the most unexpected and now largely forgotten was the Battle of Cornwall in 1595.  Spanish Captain Carlos de Amésquita commanded a squadron of four galleys from Port Louis, Brittany, departing on 26 July for raids against the enemy commerce in the English Channel.  On board were upwards of 400 soldiers.  On 2 August 1585, the squadron entered the port of Mount’s Bay in western Cornwall.  The local militia fled, with the exception of one Lieutenant and his twelve soldiers, who eventually withdrew under heavy fire.  The villages of Mousehole and Paul were set ablaze.  On 4 August, the squadron attacked Penzance.  The town was bombarded, damaging upwards of 400 buildings, and three ships in the harbor were sunk.  The Spanish troops came ashore and took cannons from the nearby fort back to their ships.  Before departing, Captain Amésquita celebrated a Catholic mass, promising to build a church on the site after the English had been defeated.  The squadron returned to Brittany before English naval forces under the command of Francis Drake and John Hawkins could intercept them.  An arch in the church at Paul still bears signs of the fire set by the Spanish invaders.  


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