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Sir Francis Drake's World Tour and Privateering *

Francis Drake is a privateer selected (along with two other men) to co-lead an English expedition to attack the Spanish along the Pacific coast of the New World. Along the way he suspects one of his co-captains of mutiny and has the man beheaded. The other captain returns to England after a storm scatters the little fleet. Drake continues on, plundering Spanish coastal towns and claiming California for Queen Elizabeth the 1st of England. He then strikes out across the Pacific Ocean, circumnavigating the globe. When he returns to England he will be knighted by the Queen, elected to the House of Commons and his ship, the Golden Hind (rhymes with "pinned"), will be placed on display for 100 years. A replica of the Golden Hind remains on display today. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Drake had been imprisoned by the Spanish for selling slaves in the New World without permission. After he escaped, he had no problem with becoming a privateer for jolly old England against Spain. A privateer is a brigand or pirate, sanctioned by the government to interdict shipping (usually at sea) who then sells those goods for profit. A privateer carries a "Letter of Marque" (pronounced, "mark") which is a get-out-of-jail-free card. The advantage is that governments don't have to pay privateers, so it is a way to build an army or navy on the cheap. Privateering is an ugly business which is why governments react badly whenever a vessel is boarded at sea for "inspection." [4] [5]

Additional Information (optional): Several prayers are attributed to Sir Francis Drake. They are fakes crafted by well-meaning pastors from letters he wrote. The pastors totally missed Drake's point, but the pastors' prayers are inspiring. [6] [7]

The Plague Churches of Venice

Venice can't seem to get a break. In 1571, Venice joined the Christian Coalition and won the Battle of Lepanto but the win had its cost in lives and treasure. In 1574, a fire broke out at the Doge's Palace, destroying some of the greatest artwork of the century. Then the Black Death stuck down over 46,000 Venetians which was almost a third of the population. Now the Doge of Venice, Alvice the 1st, sets the first foundation stone of a church of thanksgiving for the end of the plague and then drops dead. By unanimous vote, the hero of the Battle of Lepanto, Sebastiano Venier, is elected as the new Doge, but another fire in the palace has destroyed more works of art. It is said that the new Doge died of a broken heart, shortly thereafter, but he was 81 so who knows? [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Two Doges (or Dukes), two fires and the plague. With so many tragedies (and the tragedies were not over yet) the Venetians engaged in a flurry of church building. These are called the plague churches. Although we haven't talked about it for some time, the Black Death has not gone away. The plague will be used as an excuse to shutdown unsavory businesses such as gambling houses, animal-baiting arenas (cockfighting pits), brothels and (shudder) theaters. While limiting public exposure to plague makes sense, gathering at churches does not. The idea that God could protect me from disease comes from the Bible, but its like standing in front of a bus and holding up a Bible to save myself. I believe in the Bible in the sense that it is God's communication but I also believe in staying out of the way of buses.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1577, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Francis Pretty: Sir Francis Drake's Famous Voyage Round The World, (1577-1580). Internet History Sourcebooks, fordham.edu, August 1998 [last update]
  2. Francis Drake, Explorer (c. 1540-1596). Bio, A&E Television Networks (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “Soon after raiding several Spanish settlements near the Azores, Drake assumed command, a declaration that didn't set well with Doughty. Tensions flared between the two all the way across the Atlantic. Upon arriving off the coast of Argentina, Drake sensed that Doughty was plotting a mutiny and had him arrested. After a brief and possibly illegal trial, Doughty was convicted and beheaded.”
  3. What happened to the ship Golden Hind?. Answers.com (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “The original ship Golden Hind, used by Sir Francis Drake to circumnavigate the globe, served as a display vessel after his return. It remained on display in England for about 100 years, until it had finally rotted to the point where it was broken up.”
  4. letter of marque - Wiktionary. en.wiktionary.org (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “an official commission from a government authorizing someone to seize the property or people of another nation; especially to attack merchant shipping of another nation”
  5. Letter of marque - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “In the days of fighting sail, a letter of marque and reprisal was a government license authorizing a person (known as a privateer) to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale.”
  6. Drakes Prayer. exeterflotilla.org (2011). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “O Lord God, when thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same unto the end, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through His for the finishing of Thy work laid down His life, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.”
  7. Francis Draks's Prayer: Fact or Fiction?. Discerning History (November 22, 2014). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “If we can thorowghly beleve that this which we dow is in the defence of our relygyon and contrye, no doubt but out mercyfull God for his Christ, our Savyour's sake, is abell, and will geve us victory, althowghe our sennes be reed”
  8. A History of Civilization in Italy from 1304-1576 A.D., The Story Of Civilization. Simon and Schuster, 720-723. ISBN 9781567310160. “And then, in 1574 and 1577, tragic fires in the Ducal Palace gutted several rooms; paintings by Gentile da Fabriano, the Bellini, the Vivarini, Titian, Pordenone, Tintoretto, and Veronese were destroyed; in two days the labor and art of a century disappeared. The spirit of the republic shone out in the rapidity and resolution with which the damaged interiors were restored.” 
  9. Festivals in Venice and other Local Customs Reviews. VirtualTourist.com (September 9, 2009). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “The first stone of the new shrine was laid in May 1577, and on the third Sunday in July of the same year Doge Sebastiano Venier proclaimed Venice free of contagion and asked Andrea Paladio to design the church which was completed in 1593.”
  10. Sebastiano Venier - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “Sebastiano Venier died in 1578, allegedly of broken heart after a fire that had heavily damaged the Doge's Palace of Venice.”
  11. Alvise I Mocenigo - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “Alvise I Mocenigo (26 October 1507 -- 4 June 1577) was doge of Venice from 1570 to 1577.”
  12. Doge's Palace - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015.
  13. Il Redentore - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “Il Redentore was built as a votive church in thanksgiving for deliverance from a major outbreak of the plague that decimated Venice between 1575 and 1576, in which some 46,000 people (25-30% of the population) died.”
  14. The church of Il Redentore in Venice. Reid's Italy (July 2013). Retrieved on 18 May 2015. “One of Palladio's greatest masterpieces is Venice's Il Redentore, commissioned by the city in thanks for being delivered from the great plague of 1575-77, which claimed over a quarter of the population (some 46,000 people).”

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