Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Previous section
North West Passage: Where is the Inuit Voice?

The Armada: Where’s the Spanish Voice?

In 1588, an Armada (fleet of ships) of Spanish ships are spotted sailing towards England, aiming to invade.

Central panel of image with Spanish Armada in close formation being attacked by the English fleet; framed by 18 portrait medallions of English admirals and captains, including Sir Martin Frobisher.
Illustration of the Spanish Armada with Portrait Roundels

Martin is in command of Triumph, the Royal Navy's largest ship. Other ships are being captained by Drake and Hawkins. There are differing accounts and perspectives of this major historical event in British history, with the British victory being attributed to tactics, fire ships, the weather and seas. The Spanish account differs considerably.

Martin is knighted and becomes Sir Martin Frobisher. His personal share of the Armada reward is £4,979.


  • The defeat of the Spanish Armada is celebrated and commemorated as a major English naval battle triumph, and seals Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Gloriana’ status. Martin’s role in the battle has been glorified. Explore the British Museum engravings of the battle (see Supporting Links in Resources).
  • What do they tell us about how the battle, and Martin’s part in it have been told through time?  

In 1590, Martin moves back to Yorkshire, marries Dorothy Wentworth, and lives at the Manor of Whitwood, Featherstone. He continues to sail and dies of an infection following a bullet wound during the siege of a Spanish held fortress in 1594.