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Description - Sir Francis Drake by Harry Kelsey

In this lively and engaging new biography, Harry Kelsey shatters the familiar image of Sir Francis Drake. The Drake of legend was a pious, brave, and just seaman who initiated the move to make England a great naval power and whose acts of piracy against his country's enemies earned him a knighthood for patriotism. Kelsey paints a different and far more interesting picture of Drake as an amoral privateer at least as interested in lining his pockets with Spanish booty as in forwarding the political goals of his country, a man who became a captain general of the English navy, but never waged traditional warfare with any success. Drawing on much new evidence, Kelsey describes Drake's early life as the son of a poor family in sixteenth-century England. He explains how Drake dabbled in piracy, gained modest success as a merchant, and then took advantage of the hostility between Spain and England to embark on a series of daring pirate raids on undefended Spanish ships and ports, preempting Spanish demands for punishment by sharing much of his booty with the Queen and her councillors. Elizabeth I liked Drake because he was a charming rogue, and she made him an integral part of her war plans against Spain and its armada, but she quickly learned not to trust him with an important command: he was unable to handle a large fleet, was suspicious almost to the point of paranoia, and had no understanding of personal loyalty. For Drake, the mark of success was to amass great wealth, preferably by taking it from someone else and the primary purpose of warfare was to afford him the opportunity to accomplish this.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300084634
ISBN-10: 0300084633
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 152mm x 33mm)
Pages: 588
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 1-Aug-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Sir Francis Drake by Harry Kelsey

Book Reviews - Sir Francis Drake by Harry Kelsey

US Kirkus Review » A scholarly debut exposing the celebrated 16th-century English seaman, explorer, and early favorite of Queen Elizabeth's for what be truly was: a ruthless pirate, a greedy robber-merchant, and a religious bigot and hypocrite who posed as a devout Christian. Kelsey (History/Univ. of California, Riverside) spent years exploring the great libraries of Europe and the US, only to discover that this hero of the English Renaissance was really not a very nice guy. A poor youth, Drake learned piracy from John Hawkins and his family, and he rose in the world largely on the strength of his reputation as a merciless raider of poorly defended Spanish merchant ships. He was also well known as a disloyal friend who abandoned comrades under fire, executed a close friend on flimsy evidence, deprived relatives of payment and inheritances, profited from the slave trade, and supported the earl of Essex's bloody pacification of Ireland. He lived most of his life off the spoils of his one great achievement, a three-year circumnavigation of the world. Kelsey shows how Drake transformed piracy into an act of patriotism by currying favor - and sharing booty - with the queen and her nobles in exchange for a title. During the religious wars with Spain, Drake plundered and destroyed churches, monasteries, and convents and killed clergy in Spanish settlements. Poorly educated, crude, profane, and ambitious to amass great wealth by taking it from others, Drake was actually a poor warrior, and Kelsey maintains that he usually performed badly in massed combat actions. After he disappeared during the great naval battle with the Spanish Armada, he was never given high command again and finally lost favor with Elizabeth. Kelsey's enormous research range and great detailing of Drake's life restore reality and truth to the history of the times. A great achievement in the fields of biography and history. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Books By Harry Kelsey

First Circumnavigators by Harry Kelsey
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Philip of Spain, King of England by Harry Kelsey
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Sir John Hawkins by Harry Kelsey
Paperback, March 2003