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THE LAST FLIGHT OF THE REVENGE
13 SEPTEMBER 1591


The 25th of August, the Spanish King's Armada, coming out of Ferrol, arrived at Terceira, being in all thirty ships, Biscayens, Portuguese, and Spaniards; and ten Dutch Fly-boats that were arrested in Lisbon to serve the King: besides other small vessels, pataxos that came to serve as messengers from place to place, and to discover the seas.

The 13th of Septernber, the said Armada arrived at the island of Corvo, where the Englishmen, with about sixteen ships, then lay, staying for the Spanish [West Indian] fleet; whereof some, or the most part were come, and there the English were in good hopes to have taken them.

But when they perceived the King's Army to be strong: the Admiral, being the Lord Thomas Howard, commanded his fleet not to fall upon them; nor any of them once to separate their ships from him, unless he gave commission so to do.

Notwithstanding, the Vice-Admiral, Sir Richard Grenville, being in the ship called the Revenge, went into the Spanish fleet and shot among them, doing them great hurt; and thinking the rest of the company would have followed: which they did not, but left him there and sailed away. The cause why, could not be known. Which the Spaniards perceiving, with seven or eight ships they boarded her: but she withstood them all, fighting with them, at the least, twelve hours together: and sank two of them, one being a new Double Fly-boat, of 1200 tons; the other, a Biscayen. But, in the end, by reason of the number that came upon her, she was taken; to their great loss: for they had lost in fighting and by drowning, above four hundred men. Of the Englishmen, there were slain about a hundred; Sir Richard Grenville himself being wounded in the brain, whereof he died.

He was borne into the ship called the San Paulo, wherein was the Admiral of the fleet, Don Alonso de Bassan. There, his wounds were dressed by the Spanish surgeons; but Don Alonso himself would neither see him, nor speak with him. All the rest of the Captains and gentlemen went to visit him, and to comfort him in his hard fortune; wondering at his courage and stout heart, for he showed not any sign of faintness, nor changing of colour: but feeling the hour of death to approach, he spake these words in Spanish, and said, 'Here die I, Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind, for I have ended my life as a true soldier ought to do, that hath fought for his country, Queen, religion, and honour: whereby my soul most joyfully departeth out of this body; and shall leave behind it, an everlasting fame of a valiant and true soldier, that hath done his duty, as he was bound to do.'

When he had finished these, or such like words, he gave up the ghost, with great and stout courage; and no man could perceive any true sign of heaviness in him.

This Sir Richard Grenville was a great and rich gentleman in England, and had great yearly revenues, of his own inheritance: but he was a man very unquiet in his mind, and greatiy affected to war, inasmuch, as of his own private motion, he offered his services to the Queen. He had performed many valiant acts, and was greatly feared in these islands, and known of every man: but of nature very severe, so that his own people hated him for his fierceness, and spake very hardly of him.

For when they first entered into the Fleet or Armada, they had their great sail in a readiness, and might, possibly enough, have sailed away; for it was one of the best ships for sailing in England. The Master perceiving that the other ships had left them, and followed not after; commanded the great sail to be cut, that they might make away: but Sir Richard Grenville threatened both him and all the rest that were in the ship, that if any man laid hand upon it, he would cause him to be hanged. So by that occasion, they were compelled to fight; and, in the end, were taken.

He was of so hard a complexion that, as he continued among the Spanish Captains, while they were at dinner or supper with him, he would carouse three or four glasses of wine; and, in a bravery, take the glasses between his teeth, and crush them in pieces, and swallow them down, so that oftentimes the blood ran out of his mouth, without any harm at all to him: and this was told me, by divers credible persons that, many times, stood and beheld him.


As recorded by John Huyghen Van Linschoten (spelling modernized)