Your RDA of Irony

Navy Blues

On this day in 1588 the Spanish Armada set sail for…now, that turned out to be a mystery. The Spanish had built, bought, and borrowed 130 ships but they really had no idea what they were supposed to do with this fleet. Yes, the Spanish intended to conquer England, but the Armada was only a threat in theory. Its purpose was to ferry the Spanish Army of the Duke of Parma across the Channel.

Unfortunately, none of the Spanish planners had the foresight to secure either a deep water port for the fleet to load the troops, or any transports that could ferry the troops to the ships. Philip II, being such a devout Catholic, perhaps thought that his army would walk on the water. So the Armada set sail without any purpose.

On its pointless tour, the Spanish fleet took a beating in the English Channel. The Globe Theater would not be used for bull fights. Then the Armada proceeded to the North Sea, sailing past the mystified Spanish army in the Netherlands. The Duke of Parma might have had better luck using gondolas. The Spanish were not merely inferior sailors; their ships really were unsuited for water, at least the type with waves. The North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean couldn’t have been more Protestant in their reception of the Armada. Most of the Spanish fleet was destroyed in storms.

When Philip saw the meager, battered remnants of his great enterprise, the King refrained from declaring God a heretic. For a rabid bigot, Philip was surprisingly stoic and accepted the debacle with a decorous grace. Even the incompetent admiral was allowed to retire gracefully.

I only wish that Philip had broken into song…

Blue navy blue, I am blue as I can be.

For the Spanish fleet has met defeat

And won’t come back to me.

Those English acts of piracy ar-mada’ning

And instigate this war.

A punitive flotilla would be my planning

Even up the score.


The naval pride of Spain complying with my wish

For England set asail.

But all of the assailing came from the English.

So now I must bewail.


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