'Superguns' Reveal Strength of Elizabethan Navy

When the British navy somehow defeated the seemingly invincible Spanish Armada, it emerged as a force to reckoned with, and it held this reputation for centuries to come. According to a BBC News story, recently discovered "superguns" have shed light on the technology used on the British ships during this time. Previously, historians believed that Elizabeth had been using cannon technology similar to that of her father, Henry VIII. That belief had made it difficult to reconcile accounts of how Elizabeth's navy became more successful and more feared than her father's.

This technology, according to experts, was years ahead of its time. Instead of using many cannons of various sizes, shapes and roles, a ship equipped with several of these superguns could bombard a distant enemy with rapid fire. The cannons themselves come from a shipwreck that dates back to 1592, four years after the defeat of the Armada. So, it's possible they contributed to the unlikely defeat of the Spanish Armada, an event that changed the course of history.

In the late 16th century, Elizabeth I did quite a few things to tick off Philip II of Spain. He had been married to Elizabeth's predecessor and half-sister, Mary Tudor, and he sought to marry Elizabeth, too. On top of refusing his proposal, Elizabeth turned the country away from Catholicism and executed her conspiring Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots.

With the powerful Armada and support from Rome on his side, Philip confidently sought war to overthrow Elizabeth. However, faced with bad weather and the smaller, more agile British ships, the Spanish suffered humiliating defeat. It remains fascinating to wonder, however, what would have happened had Spain succeeded in ousting Elizabeth.

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[source: "Daily Dose of Knowledge: History. " West Side Publishing, 2008.]