On this day in history, the 20th August 1588, a thanksgiving service was held at St Paul’s in London to give thanks to God for England’s victory over the Spaniards. The Spanish Armada had been defeated, obliterated in fact, yet the English fleet was left intact and only around 100 English men were lost in the skirmishes.
Although Sir Francis Drake and Lord Howard of Effingham should be given credit for the English fleet’s successful tactics, much of England’s victory was down to the weather, the “Protestant Wind” which scattered the Spanish fleet and caused damage to their ships. King Philip II of Spain commented on the defeat of his fleet “I sent you out to war with men, not with the wind and waves”, recognising that it was the weather and not any shortcomings of his commanders who were to blame for England’s victory.
Elizabeth I also recognised that England’s victory was down to the weather but she believed that it was because God was on England’s side and a special medal was struck to commemorate England’s victory. The medal was inscribed with the words “Flavit Jehovah et Dissipati Sunt” – God blew and they were scattered. The defeat of the Spanish Armada was a divine victory, or so the English people believed.