Here is a useful mnemonic diagram for remembering the date of the Spanish Armada that sailed against Tudor England:

The sails look like the "88" of the year (1588).

The execution of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots in 1587 led Philip II of Spain, a longstanding enemy of Protestant England, to plan an invasion to restore England to the faith of Rome. The fleet of 130 ships (called the Invincible Armada by Spain and commanded by the Duke of Medina Sidonia) sailed in July 1588 from Cadiz to pick up an invasion army from the Spanish territory of the Netherlands.

A scratch English fleet under Lord Howard of Effingham and including Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins and Sir Martin Frobisher, harried the Armada as it sailed up the English Channel until, after a battle off the French port of Gravelines, the English drove the Armada on into the North Sea. Sidonia then had to sail on around Britain to get back to Spain. In the process he lost more than half of his ships, many being wrecked by storms off Scotland and Ireland.


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