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Genesis: Historical research

Testimonies of Spanish captives about the course of Francis Drake's circumnavigation

Mikheev Dmitry Vladimirovich

ORCID: 0000-0001-9263-0234

PhD in History

Associate Professor, Department of World History, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia; Senior Researcher, Research Laboratory "Center for the Comprehensive Studies of Regional Security Issues", Pskov State University

191186, Russia, federal city of Saint Petersburg, Saint Petersburg, nab. Moika River, 48

Other publications by this author










Abstract: The publication is devoted to the events related to the second circumnavigation organised by the English privateer, naval commander and discoverer Francis Drake. The author pays special attention to sources of Spanish origin, represented by the materials of interrogations of Spanish prisoners who had been on board the English ship and personally communicated with English corsairs. The Spanish testimonies contain detailed descriptions of the actions of Drake and his companions on the Pacific coast of the New World, reports on the armament and composition of the English crew, and considerations about the goals of the expedition. A special place in the testimonies is occupied by reports on the damage caused and the booty captured by the English. The comparative-historical method allows, as a result of comparing Spanish and other sources, to identify new details about the course of the expedition, omitted for various reasons by the authors of English testimonies about Drake's voyage. Spanish sources are actively introduced into the scientific turnover during the XX century, changing the idea of the course of the first English circumnavigation expeditions. Despite the repeated information in the testimonies about the actions of English corsairs off the Pacific coast of the New World we can trace the dynamics of Drake's actions, understand how his plans changed as he moved along the coast. Witness testimony allows us to imagine the scale of the booty captured by the British during their plundering raid, to trace the peculiarities of corsairs in Spanish waters on the eve of the open Anglo-Spanish conflict. Numerous testimonies of the captives of the English corsair help to recreate the image of Drake and his companions, to determine the peculiarities of their perception by the subjects of the King of Spain.


Age of Discovery, New World, Strait of Magellan, circumnavigation, Spanish colonies, Francis Drake, Alonso Sanchez Colchero, San Juan de Anton, Francisco de Zarate, captives

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

The era of Great Geographical Discoveries and the conquest of the New World that followed shortly after its beginning led to the creation and rise of the first trade and colonial empires that tried to monopolize the newly discovered lands, the main sea trade routes and the richest markets of the countries of the East. In the current conditions, the struggle of the great maritime powers for dominance in the vastness of the world ocean and in the colonies has become one of the main factors determining their policy throughout the entire period of Modern Times. At the same time, the study of the struggle for maritime supremacy in the era of Great Geographical Discoveries involves paying exceptional attention to the organization of large overseas expeditions, which allowed not only to expand the borders of the world known to Europeans, but also to take a serious step towards expanding trade and colonial expansion, without which it is impossible to imagine the struggle for dominance in the international arena. The phenomenon of round-the-world sea expeditions became the most visible manifestation of the era, because the implementation of such an enterprise was only possible for the most powerful maritime powers and confirmed their claim not only to maritime domination, but also to leadership in the struggle for new colonies and markets. It is not surprising, in this regard, that the Spaniards made the first round-the-world expedition, under the command of the Portuguese captain Fernand Magellan (Magallanes). Nor is it surprising that against the background of the aggravation of the Anglo-Spanish struggle for naval supremacy in the second half of the XVI century, it was the English captains who successfully completed two round-the-world expeditions (the expedition of Francis Drake, 1577-1580 and the expedition of Thomas Cavendish 1586-1588), which undermined confidence in the power of the Spanish colonial empire.

And if the first round-the-world expedition, led by Fernand Magellan and completed by navigator Juan Sebastian Elcano, brought fame to its participants, then the second round-the-world expedition under the command of Francis Drake glorified the English corsair, who went down in history as the great discoverer and the first pirate of Queen Elizabeth Tudor, knighted.

A lot of works by both domestic and foreign authors are devoted to Drake's round-the-world expedition. In most English–language works of the XIX - early XX century. there is a clear idealization of the actions of the Elizabethan corsair, the desire to focus on the event side and on individual personalities, which in the first place can be attributed to Francis Drake. This approach in their research was followed by J. Corbett [1; 2] and J.A. Williamson [3; 5]. A similar trend in English-language studies persists today. However, the more third-party, primarily Spanish and Portuguese, evidence is attracted by researchers, the more ambiguous assessments of Drake's actions during the round-the-world expedition we encounter. So G. Kelsey, contrary to the established tradition abroad, presented Drake not so much as a national hero and a fighter against Spanish domination, but rather as a real pirate, a greedy and vain son of his era [5]. P. Whitfield's work, published a few years later, is not so critical, but it is not aimed at preserving the myths created by previous researchers [6].

The domestic reader about the navigators of the early Modern period in previous years could learn primarily from small essays in the books of I.P. and V.I. Magidovich [7] and publications of Y.M. Sveta [8], including the work of Antonio Pigafetta on the course of the first circumnavigation expedition led by Fernand Magellan [9], which was published in Russian. Among the domestic studies concerning the events of the Drake expedition, it is worth noting the popular scientific works of K.V. Malakhovsky [10] and I.V. Mozheyko [11]. Special attention should be paid to the research of the St. Petersburg historian D.N. Kopelev, a specialist in the history of geographical discoveries, maritime rivalry of the great powers and related maritime robbery, who repeatedly referred to Drake's biography in his monographs and articles [12; 13; 14; 15]. The evidence of increased interest in Drake's persona and his deeds was the publication in recent years of two monographs in Russian dedicated to the famous corsair. And if the work of V. V. Shigin "Drake. The Pirate and Her Majesty's Knight" [16], is more of a popular science character, then V.K. Gubarev's monograph [17] has become a real breakthrough in Russian-language historiography dedicated to Drake and the Elizabethan era.

In the studies concerning the course of the first English circumnavigation expedition, the most important issue is an attempt to determine the true goals of the enterprise and trace the route of the English corsairs [18; 19]. It is possible to do this only based on numerous testimonies about the course of the expedition.  Unlike the first and third round-the-world expeditions of the XVI century, the amount of evidence about the course of the Drake expedition is amazing. The main sources about its progress can be divided into several large groups. The first group of sources are numerous evidences of English origin, based primarily on the testimonies of real participants of the expedition, their diaries and rare surviving documents about the preparation of the enterprise itself. The high degree of secrecy associated with the course of the expedition during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor led to the loss of part of the official documents and the diary of Drake himself, which he personally presented to the English Queen. The second group of sources includes numerous Spanish reports related to the course of the English circumnavigation expedition, which resulted in a predatory raid on the Pacific possessions of the Spanish king in the New World. This group of sources includes numerous reports from Spanish diplomats in England and abroad, as well as reports from representatives of the colonial administration in the New World. Among the latter, special attention should be paid to the reports of the subjects of the Spanish king, who personally encountered English corsairs and even visited Drake's flagship, the Golden Hind. These people turned out to be unwitting guests on board the English ship, becoming prisoners of Drake. Often they were captured either on the high seas or in ports where English corsairs called. Some of the prisoners spent only a few hours with the British, others were forced to accompany the corsairs for many days. Observing the actions of Drake and his crew, communicating with the crew members, they turned out to be the most reliable witnesses for the Spanish colonial administration, who tried to find out details about the course of the expedition, the goals and plans of the English corsair. Unfortunately, not all the materials of the interrogations of the prisoners who were on board the English ship have been preserved. But even the few materials that can be found reveal unknown details about the course of the second round-the-world expedition, give reason to doubt certain versions of the events described in the diaries of the expedition participants, allow us to form a certain idea about the perception of the image of the English corsair "Francisco Drakes" by the subjects of the Spanish king.

Upon gaining their freedom, most of Drake's captives immediately went to the nearest large settlement to report what had happened and get help from the authorities. Representatives of the colonial administration, in turn, hotly sought to restore the picture of what had happened in order to report this to Spain and determine further measures to counter the English corsair.

The testimony was usually given under oath and on the record, and at the end was certified by the Spanish official who conducted the interrogation. It is important to note that many Spanish prisoners who were on board the Golden Hind gave their testimony at different times [20, p. 134]. Often the testimony was recorded in hot pursuit, but often many weeks passed between the events described and the compilation of the testimony. All this could affect the accuracy of the information provided. In addition, the testimony itself, which has survived to our time, was collected by various officials of the Spanish colonial administration, which affected the issues that interested them in the first place. However, most often the interrogation was carried out according to a certain scheme, and many questions addressed to the witnesses were repeated. It is all the more interesting to compare different testimonies, including the prisoners who were on board the Golden Hind at the same time. In addition, each of the witnesses added details to his testimony that he considered important.

The witnesses questioned in connection with Drake's actions on the Pacific coast came from different parts of the Spanish king's possessions: Flemings, Spaniards, immigrants from the colonies of the New World. Their level of education differed, often it is determined based on whether the witness was able to sign the testimony. For example, the sailor Custodio Rodriguez, captured by the British in February 1579 in the port of Paita (Peru), refused to sign his testimony, because he did not know how to sign [20, p. 144]. Of course, most of the interrogated persons – merchants, navigators and owners of ships captured by the British, not only knew how to write, but also had a good understanding of navigation and military affairs, which made their testimony especially valuable.

What issues, based on the surviving interrogation materials, were given priority attention? Firstly, of course, these are the conditions in which the witness was captured by the British. Most of the Spanish prisoners noted that the main weapon of the English corsairs was the suddenness of the attack, since no one expected to see a foreign warship in the "Spanish Lake". It is for this reason that most of the victims of Francis Drake did not resist, and could not resist, since ships in the area of the Pacific coast of the New World often did not have artillery for their protection. Often, the British specifically tried to confuse their victims by using Spanish speech and presenting themselves with the names of the captains of Spanish ships known in the region. Here is what Don Francisco de Zarate reported on this occasion: "They replied that they were from Peru and that they were commanded by Miguel Angel – that was the name of a captain well known on this route..." [21, p. 182]. Often, when releasing their prisoners and trying to preserve the effect of surprise, the British spoiled the rigging on Spanish ships so that they would not get ahead of the corsairs and warn the colonists in the north about their approach. So Francisco Jacome reported that, releasing the ship of Captain Benito Diaz Bravo, the British spoiled its rigging and threw the anchor into the sea, as they considered the Spanish ship too fast [20, p. 150]. Diaz Bravo himself, mentioning this incident in his testimony, noted that the damage caused to his ship in this way could be estimated at 4 thousand pesos [20, p. 146-147].

The second important issue that the Spanish authorities have always been interested in when interrogating witnesses was the number of crew, its combat capability and composition. Considering that some of the prisoners eventually did not board the Golden Hind and spent only a few hours with the corsairs, it was quite difficult to name the exact composition of the crew. We can only talk about approximate figures. De Zarate said that the crew consisted of hundreds of people, "all as a selection, at an age suitable for participation in hostilities, and as knowledgeable and experienced in their field as if they were veterans of the Italian campaign... Everyone carefully watches their arquebus. The captain treats them lovingly, and they pay him respect" [21, p. 183-184]. Other Drake prisoners reported a crew size of 70 to 85 people (in the message of the Flemish Cornelius Lambert – 86 people) [20, p. 181]. However, among the companions of the English corsair, not all were soldiers prepared for battle. Among the crew members, cabin boys and Negroes are noted. The number of trained fighters among Drake's companions was usually estimated by witnesses at 50-60 people [20, p. 142, 150, 172, 177]. Including from 9 [21, p. 184] to 12 [20, p. 160] English gentlemen accompanied Drake on the "Golden Hind". Among these young English gentlemen, William Hawkins Jr. is mentioned – the nephew of the treasurer of the Navy John Hawkins and a relative of Drake. His presence on board the English ship is mentioned by San Juan de Anton [20, p. 161]. In addition to the British on board the Golden Hind, most of the prisoners saw a Portuguese navigator, short, swarthy, with a long and not very gray beard, although he was about sixty years old [20, p. 139]. Drake appreciated the navigator very much and spoke flatteringly about him [20, p. 186]

All, without exception, Drake's prisoners during the interrogation reported information about the quality of the ships and weapons of the English corsairs. The British flotilla in the Pacific was not permanent. Having initially had only one ship after crossing the Strait of Magellan, Drake ordered a small pinnace to be built in the Pacific Ocean – a sailing and rowing vessel with a low draft, used for reconnaissance and attacks on Spanish ships. Due to its speed, maneuverability and ability to move quickly in calm weather, the pinnace proved to be indispensable for corsairs. The pinnace could accommodate artillery weapons and 30-40 people, depending on the need. The Golden Hind was usually described as an excellent vessel, but its specific characteristics varied. Thus, most of the witnesses described the English ship as a galleon with a displacement of 180-200 tons, however, navigator Alonso Sanchez Colchero speaks of 300 tons [20, p. 197], and Don Francisco de Zarate about almost 400 tons of displacement [21, p. 183]. Such a discrepancy in estimates is difficult to explain. The British themselves, when describing their flagship, talked about a displacement of 100-120 tons [22, p. 6, 269], however, this difference can be explained by the peculiarities of tonnage calculation in different countries [23, p. 13-14]. The seaworthiness of the Golden Hind was quite high, but due to the long voyage (it had been going on for almost 1.5 years by the time of the events described), the ship needed repair. Attempts to implement it by the British are mentioned by the Flemish merchant Cornelius Lambert [20, p. 182] and passengers Joseph de Parras [20, p. 185-186] and Diego de Messa [20, p. 192]. As a result, Drake, due to a leak that appeared on his ship, decided to use the captured barque of Captain Rodrigo Tello to transfer some of the artillery and treasures to it. The British planned to strengthen the captured ship and, as Lambert believed, use it in a further journey to the Moluccas [20, p. 184]. Captain Tello and his companions were given a small pinnace as compensation, on which they could get to the nearest Spanish settlement. Cornelius Lambert reported that Drake, handing over the pinnace to the Spaniards, stated that "his ship leaked, and even if the bark belonged to his own father, he could not refuse to capture it" [20, p. 182-183]. However, the repairs made and more thorough repairs in New Albion allowed the use of the Golden Hind to return to England instead of a relatively small Spanish barque [5, p. 192].

The artillery armament that the British had is also described by witnesses in different ways. Usually we are talking about 12-18 heavy iron and bronze guns. But the difference in numbers is easily explained if we turn to the testimony of Diaz Bravo, who personally observed the unloading of the English ship. "He noticed that there were fourteen artillery pieces on the ship. Twelve of them were stationed on the ship in full readiness for battle. The other two were taken from under the deck" [20, p. 147] to be installed on the captured ship. Thus, the British used part of the guns as ballast in the hold and, if necessary, placed additional guns on the deck or transferred them to another ship. However, even despite the above explanation, the reports of 25 guns in the testimony of Alonso Sanchez Colchero and 30 guns in the testimony of Francisco de Zarate [21, p. 184] look like a clear exaggeration on the part of the Spaniards.

In addition to artillery, there were large stocks of gunpowder, edged weapons, arquebuses, bows on board the English ship, which the British continued to use with great success, incendiary and other projectiles and devices [20, p. 140, 151, 172-173, 182, 197]. Of particular note are chain knippels – shells divided into two parts, chained together with one chain. Their use for the destruction of rigging is mentioned by San Juan de Anton [20, p. 157-158].

Of fundamental importance to the Spanish authorities in the New World was information about how the English corsairs got into the Pacific Ocean, what their goals were and how they plan to return to their homeland. The British did not hide that they were able to get to the Pacific Ocean through the Strait of Magellan. Most of the Spanish subjects captured by Drake and his men report this. However, more detailed information that the prisoners wanted to get during the conversation with the corsairs, they tried to hide or distort from them. Thus, to the question of San Juan de Anton whether the Strait of Magellan is "a strait between islands or continents, the pilot (probably Nu?o da Silva, D.M.) replied that it passes not between islands, but between continents" [20, p. 167]. Although the Golden Hind was carried out by storms into a huge strait south of Tierra del Fuego, and all crew members, and even more so the navigator of the expedition, had to understand that the Strait of Magellan separates the Mainland and the islands, beyond which stretches a more extensive strait connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic, now known as the Drake Strait. This was done in order to hide an important discovery from the Spaniards.

Speaking to the captives about the purpose of the expedition, the English captain claimed, according to the sailor Custodio Rodriguez, that he acted with the permission of his queen, robbing the Spaniards in these waters [20, p. 143]. A little more information was reported during the interrogation by Domingo de Lisars: "The said Captain Francis said that he came to rob by order of the Queen of England and was carrying with him the weapons she gave him and her commission" [20, p. 179]. San Juan de Anton, who had been in contact with Drake for a long time, reported that the reason for organizing the expedition was revenge for the events in San Juan del Ulloa, where the English squadron of John Hawkins and Drake, engaged in the slave trade, was almost completely destroyed by the Spaniards in 1568. Almost 300 people were lost in the battle, and Drake's personal losses amounted to 7 thousand pesos. Now, having received permission to compensate for the damage suffered, the British plundered the subjects of King Philip II. Thus, the money belonging to the Spanish crown had to compensate for the damage to the organizers of the previous expedition, and the funds of private individuals went to the treasury of the Queen of England [20, p. 161]. In fact, Drake stated that Queen Elizabeth provided him with a letter of reprisal, which allowed, even in peacetime, with the permission of the authorities, at his own risk, to try to compensate for the damage caused by the subjects of another state, from which the government of the country could not receive compensation in other ways [24, p. 203].

Another remark made by San Juan de Anton is noteworthy, that the true purpose of Drake's actions is an attempt to persuade the Spanish king to allow trade in his possessions, otherwise the British themselves will take what they need in the New World without paying any duties [20, p. 174]. In fact, a similar goal was pursued earlier by attempts to organize slave trading expeditions in the 1560s, in which Drake himself took part. However, it was no longer possible to force the Spanish king to violate his colonial monopoly in this way in the current circumstances, when the Anglo-Isan union ceased to exist.

Reporting on the further path of the English corsairs to their homeland, witnesses reported that Drake chooses from several route options. He informed some that he would go to the Moluccas [20, p. 143, 168], others called several options: the way through the Pacific Ocean and the Moluccas and further to the Cape of Good Hope, i.e. a repeat of the Magellan–Elkano round-the-world expedition, return through the Strait of Magellan or the legendary northern "Strait of Anian" [20, p. 162, 171-172, 178]. It seems quite likely that Drake chose a possible route until the last moment and initially did not plan a round-the-world expedition. The insistent demands of the English captain to the Spanish navigator Alonso Sanchez Colchero to guide the English ship to the coast of China and the Philippine Islands [20, p. 182, 187, 195] suggests that Drake was afraid of this route and needed an experienced navigator. The final decision to cross the Pacific Ocean was made after attempts to find the Anian Strait failed. To a large extent, the successful crossing of the Pacific Ocean was helped by maps and documents seized from the Spanish navigator, who was supposed to lead one of the first Manila galleons "on the way to China".

Often witnesses stop at describing the riches looted by Drake and his men. However, not everyone had a chance to see firsthand the treasures stored on board the English ship. Most often, their assessments are based on the stories of eyewitnesses and the British themselves, who boasted of their huge booty. In some cases, the witnesses were limited to reporting what was stolen on their ship. San Juan de Anton, the captain of the richest prize captured by the British, reported that the value of the seized "amounted to 362 thousand pesos in bullion (silver – DM), reals and gold. Of these, 106 thousand belonged to His Majesty, and the rest belonged to private individuals. This is what was registered, but if we take into account what was on board, the total amount will be more than 400 thousand pesos" [20, p. 159]. Custodio Rodriguez reported that even Drake was surprised by so many treasures. The British had to load the boat five times to transfer everything to their ship [20, p. 142]. During the interrogation, De Anton estimated the total value of the wealth captured by the British off the Pacific coast of the New World at 447 thousand pesos in coins and bullion, not counting gold and silver jewelry, precious stones, pearls and porcelain [20, p. 163].

Joseph de Parras, a passenger on the captured by the British ship Rodrigo Tello, reported that the British had with them gold and silver bullion and coin for at least half a million, and ingots and plates of silver were used as ballast on their ship [20, p. 189]. However, during the repair, they were forced to unload everything in a big mess on the captured Spanish ships or even throw it ashore. Navigator Alonso Sanchez Colchero, who happened to see part of the English cargo personally, claimed during interrogation that "there were 1800 silver bars on the ship, ... nine small gilded boxes, very well laced, in which, according to the Englishman (Drake. – DM.) and other people, there was gold, another chest of medium sizes with gold bars" and ten medium-sized boxes with coins and pieces of silver [20, p. 197].

The question of what the booty captured by the British during Drake's round-the-world expedition was in the end remains open to this day. The Spanish ambassador to England, Bernardino de Mendoza, reported that he managed to find out about the approximate size of Drake's production: 20 tons of silver, 5 boxes of gold and a lot of pearls [25, p. 63]. The ambassador said that Drake's production amounted to at least 1.5 million pesos [25, p. 62], other sources bring the amount to 2 million (approximately 375,000 pounds) [5, p. 216]. The exact list of treasures brought to England aboard the Golden Hind was classified.

Many witnesses particularly dwelt on the religious beliefs of the English "Lutherans" who captivated them. Domingo de Lisars remarked during the interrogation that "these Englishmen are Lutherans, and their actions and speech prove that they are so. They eat meat on Lent and on Friday and do not keep the commandments of God, as Christians do. In addition, they manifest themselves as people who are very strongly opposed to the Pope" [20, p. 179]. Joseph de Parras noted that the British held their Protestant services right on the deck of the ship. Those Spaniards who did not want to observe this were allowed to retire to the bow or stern of the ship [20, p. 188]. However, there were also isolated incidents on religious grounds. So the same Joseph de Parras reported that on board the ship of Rodrigo Tello, the British found a large crucifix, which was broken into pieces, trampled and thrown overboard [20, p. 188].

Witnesses often described the composition of the prisoners who were already on board the English ship and how the corsairs treated them. It is worth noting that most of the witnesses noted a good attitude on the part of the British. The main inconvenience during the period of captivity, Custodio Rodriguez called the need to eat meat on Friday and during Lent, since the English Lutherans did not observe it, and the prisoners were fed as well as themselves [20, p. 142].

However, Drake and his men did not disdain to threaten and even torture their prisoners. Trying to find out if the Spaniards were hiding gold and silver on the ship of Benito Diaz Bravo, the British promised to hang the clerk Francisco Jacome if he did not tell where the treasures were hidden, and even put a noose on his head and threw him into the water [20, p. 151]. Navigator Alonso Sanchez Colchero, whom Drake persuaded to take the English ship to the Moluccas or the Philippine Islands, had to endure much greater trials. At the beginning, the British tried to persuade the navigator to cooperate by promising money. He was promised a thousand pesos. But the navigator assured that he was a simple sailor, knew nothing about navigation and asked to be released to his wife and children [20, p. 195]. Drake allowed him to compose three letters to the Viceroy, the royal judge of Guatemala, Garcia de Palacios and his wife, where he informed them that he was going with the English corsairs under duress. In addition, with the Spaniards released, in addition to letters, 50 pesos were given to the navigator's wife and children [20, p. 187, 192-193]. When the navigator, fearing for the fate of the inhabitants of the city, refused to take the ship to the port of Realejo, where the Manila galleon was located, the English captain could not stand it and ordered the Spaniard to be hanged. A rope was thrown around his neck and twice lifted into the air so that he eventually fell down without strength. Only after that the tortures of the navigator stopped [20, p. 196]. After that, Drake decided to finally release the Spaniard on the ship Francisco de Zarate.

Surprisingly, it is not so often that we find detailed descriptions of the English captain, although many prisoners mention that Drake personally communicated with them. Usually, the British brought several people from the captured ship – navigators, captains, rich merchants and the most notable passengers - on board the Golden Hind to the English captain. However, Drake, when time allowed, did not deny himself the pleasure of inspecting the prize ship.

The witnesses also reported that the British tried to find out from them, what questions they asked, what messages they asked to convey to the officials of the colonial administration at the meeting.

Drake was particularly attentive to the fate of his colleague John Oxingham, who was captured by the Spaniards in 1576 while trying to cross the Isthmus of Panama and thus reach the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Oxengem used the help of the Cimarones during the expedition – dark-skinned slaves who had escaped from the Spaniards and mixed with the local Indian population. The English captain was often interested in the fate of the four captured Englishmen. Communicating with the captain and owner of the galleon "Nuestra Senhora de la Concepcion" captured by the British, San Juan de Anton, Drake asked what could be expected of the English prisoners and asked him to tell the viceroy, as he well knows that de Anton will definitely be interrogated: "Tell him that he killed enough Englishmen and that he did not he must kill the four who remain, because if they are killed, it will cost him more than two thousand Spaniards" [20, p. 173]. De Anton tried to reassure Drake that if Oxengem and his companions had not yet been executed, they would most likely be sent to remote fortresses in southern Chile, where they would fight with rebellious Araucanian Indians [20, p. 162]. The conversation about the fate of Oxengem was also mentioned in his testimony by Domingo de Lisars, who was captured together with de Anton [20, p. 179].

The fate of the Cimarones, with whom he made a successful raid on the Spanish silver caravans of the Isthmus of Panama in 1572, also interested Drake. Thus, San Juan de Anton reported during the interrogation that he was surprised by the attentive attitude of the English captain to the rebellious slaves of the Cimarons, to which one of the corsairs remarked that "these Negroes were like brothers to Captain Francis, and that they became very attached to him" [20, p. 172]. In this regard, it is interesting to mention the Flemish Nicolas Jorge about a dark-skinned slave who was released and taken on board an English ship, who claimed to be Cimaron when the British captured the ship of Gonzalo Alvarez [20, p. 139]. From the conversation, the witness realized that "the said Captain Francis said that he loved them (Simaronov. – D.M.), spoke well of them and asked every day if they were living peacefully now," hoping to meet them again [20, p. 140].

In the texts of the interrogations, there are remarks about Drake's cruelty and vindictiveness, as already mentioned above. San Juan de Anton got the impression that Drake doesn't trust anyone and is afraid of his people [20, p. 171]. However, all the prisoners, without exception, note the outstanding qualities of the English captain who decided to commit such a risky venture. He is called a generous and stern commander, respected and feared by his subordinates, an excellent navigator and naval commander, he strives for merciful treatment of prisoners. However, the brightest and at the same time the most unpleasant picture is depicted by one of the last Spanish prisoners of Drake – Don Francisco de Zarate: "The leader of the British turned out to be the nephew of John Hawkins, this is the same man who captured the port of Nombre de Dios about five years ago. His name is Francisco Drak, he is about 35 years old, short in height, with a full beard; he is one of the best sailors who ever went to sea, an excellent skipper and captain… The captain himself does not listen to anyone's advice. But he likes it when others are not silent, and after listening to their opinion, he gives orders. He has no favorites" [21, pp. 183-184]. Drake tries to behave like a gallant gentleman with his captives, showing them his wealth and superiority over the enemy in every possible way [26, p. 62]. The dinners to which he invited some of his prisoners were held to the sound of music, and dishes were served on gold and silver dishes [20, p. 171; 21, p. 184]. The captain himself assured that many things were presented to him personally by Queen Elizabeth. He showed his loyalty and respect for the English monarch in every possible way, while speaking with respect about the Spanish king. So, in particular, he forbade tearing down flags with the coat of arms of the Spanish king, saying that this is one of the greatest monarchs in the world [20, p. 148]. Considering that the events took place in peacetime, without an official declaration of war, such actions of Drake fit perfectly into the system of relations between the two monarchs that developed after Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne and escalated into open war only in 1585.

Summing up, it is worth noting that despite the repeated information in the testimony about the actions of the British corsairs off the Pacific coast of the New World, we can trace a certain dynamic in the actions of Francis Drake, understand how his plans changed as he moved along the coast. Witness testimony allows us to imagine the scale of the loot captured by the British during their predatory raid, to trace the features of the actions of corsairs in Spanish waters on the eve of an open military confrontation, when Elizabeth, as a "master of undeclared wars" [27, p. 156], tried to strike at the pride of the Spaniards, demonstrating her determination to resist King Philip II. But the main thing is that the numerous testimonies of the captives of the English corsair help, they recreate the image of Drake and his companions, as the Spaniards themselves perceived them, they allow us to understand how the relations between the British and the subjects of the Spanish king were built on the eve of the Anglo-Spanish war of 1585-1604.


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There are times in the history of mankind that have an impact on the generations ahead, the impact is not only socio-economic, but also geographical. Among such periods, the era of Great Geographical Discoveries is striking. It was during this period that the first circumnavigations of the world were made for the first time in the history of mankind, and one of the most striking examples of such a voyage was the expedition of Francis Drake. These circumstances determine the relevance of the article submitted for review, the subject of which is the testimony of Spanish prisoners about the course of Francis Drake's circumnavigation expedition. The author sets out to analyze the historiography of F. Drake, to show the opinions of the Spanish prisoners about the course of the expedition of the Englishman. The work is based on the principles of analysis and synthesis, reliability, objectivity, the methodological basis of the research is the historical and genetic method, which, according to academician I.D. Kovalchenko, includes "the consistent disclosure of the properties, functions and changes of the studied reality in the process of its historical movement, which allows us to get as close as possible to reproducing the real history of the object", and its objective sides are concreteness and descriptiveness. The scientific novelty of the article lies in the very formulation of the topic: the author seeks to characterize the true goals of the enterprise and trace the route of the first English circumnavigation expedition. Considering the bibliographic list of the article, its scale and versatility should be noted as a positive point: in total, the list of references includes over 20 different sources and studies, which in itself indicates the amount of preparatory work that its author has done. From the sources attracted by the author, we note the published documents relating to the era of Great Geographical Discoveries. Among the studies used, we will point to the works of V.K. Gubarev, V.V. Shigin, D.V. Mikheev, which focus on various aspects of the biography of Francis Drake. Note that the bibliography is important both from a scientific and educational point of view: after reading the text of the article, readers can turn to other materials on its topic. In general, in our opinion, the integrated use of various sources and research contributed to the solution of the tasks facing the author. The style of writing the article can be attributed to scientific, at the same time understandable not only to specialists, but also to a wide readership, to anyone interested in both the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries in general and Francis Drake in particular. The appeal to the opponents is presented at the level of the collected information received by the author during the work on the topic of the article. The structure of the work is characterized by a certain logic and consistency, it can be distinguished by an introduction, the main part, and conclusion. At the beginning, the author determines the relevance of the topic, shows that a valuable source on the Drake expedition are the reports of "subjects of the Spanish king who personally encountered English corsairs and even visited Drake's flagship, the Golden Hind. The author draws attention to the fact that the witnesses questioned in connection with Drake's actions on the Pacific coast were of different ethnic origin, educational level, etc. The primary attention during the interrogations, as the author shows, was paid to the conditions of captivity, characteristics of the "Golden Deer", etc. It is noteworthy that the image of Drake did not appear in the testimonies too often. The main conclusion of the article is that the testimonies of the captives of the English corsair "recreate the image of Drake and his companions, as the Spaniards themselves perceived them, make it possible to understand how relations between the British and the subjects of the Spanish king were built on the eve of the Anglo-Spanish war of 1585-1604." The article submitted for review is devoted to an urgent topic, will arouse readers' interest, and its The materials can be used both in lecture courses on modern history and in various special courses. In general, in our opinion, the article can be recommended for publication in the journal Genesis: Historical Research.
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