Monday, August 14, 2006

needing a miracle

For the past year or so, I've been reading histories related to the English Reformation. As a diversion - related, but a diversion -- I've been reading Neil Hanson's The Confident Hope of a Miracle: the True History of the Spanish Armada.

The author tries to humanize the Spanish, including the cold King Philip II, and argues against the common picture of Elizabeth as valiant and a good administrator. The English, in fact, come across as quite corrupt in their pivateering as a way to feed royal and personal coffers.

But it's a good read about an important sea battle. If the outcome had been different, we might be communicating in Spanish rather than English, and the fights of the Anglican Communion would be moot, because it would not have existed.

Still, this quote from the book got my attention. Hanson tells of a report by the Pope's envoy back to the Vatican concerning the preparations for the Spanish Armada. The envoy reports on a conversation with a high-up in the Spanish navy in which he asked if he thought that Spain would be successful in its invasion of England.

The reply:

It's very simple. It is well known that we fight in God' s cause, so when we met the English, God will surely arrange matters so that we can grapple and board them... [and the officer then describes how they will overpower the English sailors once they get close to their ships] ... But unless God helps us by a miracle, the English, who have faster and handier ships than ours and many more long range guns ...will never close with us at all but stand aloof and know us to pieces with their [cannons] without our being able to do them any serious hurt. So we are sailing against England in the confident hope of a miracle.

P. 116, Hanson, Confident Hope of a Miracle

No comments: