Francis Drake was the first Englisman to circle the globe. The journey lasted three years, began in 1759. Over the course of the his journey, Drake atttacked any Spanish vessel that he came upon. Drake spent a month resting in San Francisco Bay, which he claimed for England.
Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe is a seminal event in maritime history, taking place between 1577 and 1580. This expedition was significant not just for its geographical achievements but also for its impact on English naval prowess and the geopolitics of the era.
The expedition set sail from Plymouth, England, on December 13, 1577. The fleet initially consisted of five ships: the Pelican (later renamed the Golden Hind), the Elizabeth, the Marigold, the Swan, and the Benedict. Drake himself commanded the Pelican. The primary goal was to raid Spanish settlements along the coast of South America, a region under Spanish control but barely defended.
The journey was fraught with challenges, including terrible weather, which forced them to take shelter in the Bay of Biscay. Drake had to execute the expedition's sub-commander, Thomas Doughty, for supposedly plotting mutiny. After rounding the southern tip of South America, known as the Strait of Magellan, Drake's fleet entered the Pacific Ocean. At this point, only three ships remained; one had been abandoned and another had been scuttled.
Once in the Pacific, Drake focused on capturing Spanish treasure ships along the coast of South America. He successfully looted the town of Valparaíso and captured a number of Spanish ships laden with treasure. The most significant prize was the capture of the Cacafuego, a Spanish galleon, off the coast of Ecuador. The ship was carrying a significant amount of gold and silver, which greatly contributed to the expedition's financial success.
Drake realized that returning via the Strait of Magellan would be dangerous due to Spanish patrols. He decided to continue west, crossing the Pacific and making stops in the Moluccas, Java, and the Cape of Good Hope before making it back to the Atlantic Ocean. His ship, the Golden Hind, became the second ship in recorded history to circumnavigate the Earth, arriving back in Plymouth on September 26, 1580.
Drake returned to England a hero, although the Queen couldn't openly celebrate his achievements due to the political tensions with Spain. His share of the captured Spanish treasure made him incredibly wealthy. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted him aboard the Golden Hind. The circumnavigation solidified England's naval capabilities and opened up possibilities for further explorations and colonization.