This speech is a historical-narrative text that Queen
Elizabeth I made to the troops on August 2s1 , 1588 in Tilbury. With this speech, Elizabeth I
wanted to give them strength and support for the attack of the Spanish army,
led by the king of Spain, Felipe II, a battle that lasted 9 dayss2 .
also known as the Virgin Queen, was the queen of England and Ireland from
November 17, 1558 until the day of her death, on March 24, 1603. She was the
daughter of King Henry VII and Anne Boleyn, who was executed when Elizabeth was
only 3 years old, being thus declared an illegitimate daughter. But years
later, after the death of her brothers Eduardo VI and Maria I, Elizabeth was crowneds3 .
Back to the speech, the origin of that conflict was 30
years earlier, when Queen Elizabeth I succeeded her step-sister Maria in 1558,
who reigned England, since she died without children. When Maria I was still
queen, she was married to Felipe II, king of Naples, who later became king of
Spain. Both were Catholics and tried hard to reimplant Catholicism. Felipe had
been co-monarch of England until the death of Maria, who recognized her sister
Elizabeth as heiress to the throne.
Felipe did not agree with Elizabeth on the throne,
since he was Protestant and did not consider her the legitimate ruler of
England. He had hope that Elizabeth’s Catholic cousin, Mary Stuart, would
succeed her, but in 1587 Elizabeth executed it.
Elizabeth, while she was promoting Protestantism, she
also supported the revolt of the Protestants of Holland against Spain, forming
an alliance with them and sending troops to help them.
Because of these events, Felipe decided to invade
England, with the support of Pope Sixtus V of England and with the help of the
troops of the Duke of Parma, who was his commander from Holland. This decision
had the objective of restoring Catholicism.
Felipe had a large fleet of 130 ships full of
soldiers, which he called the Invincible Armada, and he was absolutely sure
that they could defeat the English. When they reached the English Channel, they
could see that the English had fewer ships, and that made them feel more
relaxed and secure, but what they did not know was that some English sailors
had built new and better boats, which had innovations that made easier and
effective to fight in the sea. Instead of having many soldiers, they had a lot
of small but powerful cannons, which was what destroyed most of the ships of
the Spanish Navy.
On July 12, 1588 was the day Felipe’s troops sailed to
join the troops of the Duke of Parma, and then attack England starting on the
coast. But an unexpected storm, destroyed Felipe’s plans and damaged a large
part of the fleet. That helped the British army to defeat them and they were
forced to retreat. Only a little more than the half of the fleet of the Spanish
Navy, 67 ships, managed to survive and reach Spain.
The English army were still on alert, although the
Spanish army was heavily damaged, since they could receive new threats to
continue with the invasion attempt. So, the count of Leicester city decided to
send 4,000 soldiers to Tilbury, in Essex, with the intention of protecting the
mouth of the Thames. Elizabeth also went there to check that everything was in
order and give her speech, which was addressed to her entire nation and to the
soldiers, to give them strength and support. Finally, the Spanish Navy did not
In the speech we can observe the love and loyalty she
has towards her people, so her nation could see her as their leader and have
respect and love for her. This can be observed throughout the speech, but
especially in the first part.
In this part she also mentions the Spaniards,
referring to them as traitors, but she focuses more on showing the faith, trust
and loyalty that she feels from part of her army, and that is why she has taken
the trouble to come there to give the speech by herself and not another person.
She wants to prove to the warriors that she has
strength and power, and although she looks like a weak woman, she has the heart
of a king, of a king of England, and she can face any king who intends to
invade her territory, like Spain or any other country of Europe. She herself
would go to the battlefield to defend her nation, and she also encourage her
soldiers to think and do the same than her, and for that they will have a