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El Draque - Master Of the Seas: Sir Francis Drake
Saturday March 13, 2021 1:00pm EST
by Laurence Bergreen
El Draque - Master Of the Seas: Sir Francis Drake

Before he was secretly dispatched by Queen Elizabeth to circumnavigate the globe, or was called upon to save England from the Spanish Armada, Francis Drake was perhaps the most wanted–and successful–pirate ever to sail. Nicknamed "El Draque" by the Spaniards who placed a bounty on his head, the notorious red-haired, hot-tempered Drake pillaged galleons laden with New World gold and silver, stealing a vast fortune for his queen – and himself. For Elizabeth, Drake made the impossible real, serving as a crucial and brilliantly adaptable instrument of her ambitions to transform England from a third-rate island kingdom into a global imperial power.

In 1580, sailing on Elizabeth's covert orders, Drake became the first captain to circumnavigate the earth successfully. (Ferdinand Magellan had died in his attempt.) Part exploring expedition, part raiding mission, Drake's audacious around-the-world journey in the Golden Hind reached Patagonia, the Pacific Coast of present-day California and Oregon, the Spice Islands, Java, and Africa. Almost a decade later, Elizabeth called upon Drake again. As the devil-may-care vice admiral of the English fleet, Drake dramatically defeated the once-invincible Spanish Armada, spurring the British Empire’s ascent and permanently wounding its greatest rival.

The relationship between Drake and Elizabeth is the missing link in our understanding of the rise of the British Empire, and its importance has not been fully described or appreciated. Historian and author Laurence Bergreen colours in the missing pieces of this puzzle and delivers a narrative entwining epic historical themes with intimate passions.

Laurence BergreenLaurence Bergreen is an award-winning biographer, historian, and chronicler of exploration. His books have been translated into over 25 languages worldwide. Each of his biographies is considered the definitive work on its subject: Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, Capone: The Man and the Era, As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin, and Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth. His latest book is: In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire.  

He has written for many national publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, and Military History Quarterly. A frequent lecturer at major universities and symposiums, and, on occasion, aboard cruise ships, he has served as a Featured Historian for the History Channel. Mr Bergreen graduated from Harvard University in 1972. He is a member of PEN American Center, The Explorers Club, the Authors Guild, and the Board of Trustees of the New York Society Library. He lives in New York City.


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