Pirates & Privateers
Gráinne O'Malley ·
Francis Drake, navigator and privateer, is one of the
greatest English sea-captains of all time. Revered as a hero in
the fight against the Armada and despised as an upstart by
the old nobility, Drake epitomizes the self-made Elizabethan privateer,
rapacious in the hunt for treasure (especially Spanish treasure)
but daring and visionary in exploration.
Drake and his crew are remembered as the first Englishmen to circumnavigate
the globe, claiming a portion of California for Elizabeth along the
way. His attack
on Cadiz and his devastating raids on the Spanish Main earned
him the fear and the grudging respect of the Spaniards, who
call him El Draque, "The Dragon".
Drake's exploits are the distant inspiration for the
adventures of Captain Geoffrey Thorpe
(Errol Flynn) in Michael Curtiz's film The Sea-Hawk,
which has nothing but the title in common with the Rafael
Sabatini novel of the same name.
June 17, 1579
"Nova Albion" was the name Drake gave to the land he claimed
for Elizabeth I on the western coast of North America. In some
parts of the Pacific Northwest, the argument over where exactly
Drake landed dwarfs the argument over who wrote Shakespeare's plays.
In 38 deg.30 min. We fell in with a fit and
convenient harbor and June 17, came to anchor
there, where we stayed till the 23 July. During all
which time, not withstanding it was the height of
summer, we were continually visited with nipping
cold, neither could we at any time within a
fourteen day period find the air so clear as to be able
to take height the sun or stars. [from The World
Much of the evidence is based on an inset on Jodocus Hondius's
map of Drake's circumnavigation (c. 1596), showing a bay or inlet labeled
"Portus Novae Albionis" - Drake's harbor.
Drake Exploration Society publishes The
Drake Broadside, which takes the traditional view
"The Drake Navigators Guild have proved beyond question that
Drake sojourned at Drakes Bay [Marin, California] and Estero ...
Sir David and Michael Turner have visited the area and are convinced that
the Guild have correctly documented Drake’s movements in
California. History is visited by those who wish to make a
name for themselves by re-inventing characters, events and places.
Unfortunately this has hindered the universal
acceptance of the Guild’s work which began nearly forty years ago."
Here are some of the dissenting views:
Smoke and Mirrors:
Chicanery and Deception at so-called "Drake's Bay" presents
selections from Oliver Seeler's forthcoming book Francis Drake
in Nova Albion - The Mystery Restored, at his
Nova Albion Research site.
is proposed as the site of Nova Albion by "amateur British historian"
The Marin County
(California) Historical Society web site includes excerpts concerning
Nova Albion and the Miwok Indians from The World
Encompassed, a record of Drake's voyage published in 1628,
written by Drake's nephew (also called Sir Francis). New URL.
Cyril Stanley Smith's 1976 Metallurgical Report on
"Francis Drake's Brass Plate" at MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections concludes
that it "seems unlikely that the plaque could have been produced before the late 19th century." New !
Determination of latitude by
Francis Drake on the coast of California in 1579 investigates
"where a 16th century determination of "N38D.30.M" at about longitude W123 would have been."
Sir Francis Drake in Nova Albion,
the Wondjina Research Institute of Sonora, California's Nova Albion Project,
focusing on Agate Beach in Bolinas Bay.
The World of Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake
at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, U.K.
Sir Francis Drake
tells of Drake's early voyages and the attack on the Spanish treasure port
Nombre de Dios.
Francis Drake at the
The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, Virginia, includes a map of
Drake's voyages. New !
Sir Francis Drake and
Music also includes quotations and excerpts on Drake in
Ireland and California; it's from Standing Stones. New URL.
The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake into the South Sea, and therehence about the whole Globe of the Earth, begun in the year of our Lord 1577
by Francis Pretty, One of Drake's Gentlemen at Arms, at the Modern History Sourcebook.
Sir Francis Drake features
pictures of The Golden Hind and the Hondius Map
of Drake's voyages (complete with the Portus Novae Albionis
inset). New !
Renaissance: The Elizabethan World
at Dueling Modems.
Notes on the Illustrations ·
14 March 2004