Sir Francis Drake combined several roles, from pirate to sea captain, privateer to explorer. He perhaps typifies the ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit of the Elizabethan Age at the birth of the first English and subsequently British Empire.
One of his most daring exploits was a successful circumnavigation of the earth from 1577 to 1580. He set off with just five ships, including the Pelican which he was on board. He did soon include another ship, however, under the captaincy of a Portuguese, Nuno da Silva, who knew well some of the sea routes around the Americas.
To Elizabeth and the English, Drake was a hero, a continual threat to the Spanish fleets and their gold. To the Spanish, however, he was often referred to as ‘El Draco’, or the Dragon, also probably because of his warlike and privateering exploits in the Spanish Main.
copyright Francis Barker 2019