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Battle of Cornwall
Part of the Anglo-Spanish War
Date 2 August 1595
Location Mount's Bay, Cornwall
Result Spanish victory
Flag of New Spain.svg Spanish Empire Flag of England.svg England
Carlos de Amésquita
Juan del Águila
Pedro de Zubiaur
Francis Godolphin
Francis Drake
John Hawkins
Casualties and losses
20 men 4 villages razed
4 barques sunk

The Battle of Cornwall was a Spanish raid on Cornwall in 1595 during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585), notable as one of the few successful Spanish landings in England, though not the only one, since Fernando Sánchez de Tovar had also raided the area in the 14th century.


After the assassination of Henry III of France, the French crown had passed to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre. Henry of Navarre's claim was backed by Protestant England (who landed troops in France to help him) but not recognised by the Catholic League, pope Sixtus V and Philip II of Spain. Philip thus sent a 1590 expedition into France under Juan del Águila, who in 1595 decided to use his force to also launch a punitive expedition against England for her support of Henry of Navarre.


The expedition to England was entrusted to Carlos de Amésquita, with 3 companies of arquebusiers (about 400 men in total), four galleys (Capitana, Patrona, Peregrina and Bazana)[1] from the fleet under Pedro de Zubiaur. He sailed from Port Louis, Brittany, on 26 July. After calling at Penmarch, they sank a French barque manned by an English crew and with a cargo for Britain, in the belief that the vessel could compromise their mission. Amésquita forces eventually landed at Mount's Bay, Cornwall on 2 August.[2] Amésquita was guided by Cornish turncoat Richard Burley of Weymouth.[3] The English militias, which formed the cornerstone of their anti-invasion measures and numbered several hundred men, threw down their arms and fled in panic. Only Francis Godolphin, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and commander of the militias along with 12 of his soldiers stood to offer some kind of resistance.[4] In two days the Spanish took all they needed and burned the villages of Mousehole, Paul, Newlyn and Penzance as well as taking the cannon from forts in the area and re-mounting them on their fleet.[5] Penzance was also bombarded by the Spanish galleys, which destroyed 400 houses and sank three ships.[3]

At the end of the campaign a traditional Catholic mass was held on English soil and, on re-embarking soon afterwards on 4 August, the force's commander promised to build a church on its site once England had been defeated. He then left all his prisoners ashore and evaded a fleet sent against them under Francis Drake and John Hawkins.[2] On 5 August Amézquita met a Dutch squadron of 46 ships, sinking two of the Dutch ships and suffering the expedition's only Spanish casualties (20 men killed) before the rest of the Dutch ships escaped. He then stopped at Penmarch for repairs and finally arrived back at Port Louis on 10 August in triumph.[5]


  1. ^ San Juan, Víctor: La batalla naval de las Dunas: la Holanda comercial contra la España del Siglo De Oro. Silex Ediciones, 2007, page 67. ISBN 8477371849 (Spanish)
  2. ^ a b Mounts Bay Raid by Spaniards in the Year 1595
  3. ^ a b The Spanish Raid, page 2
  4. ^ The Spanish Attack—1595
  5. ^ a b Juan del Águila y Arellano (Spanish)

Coordinates: 50°6′9″N 5°31′41.45″W / 50.1025°N 5.5281806°W / 50.1025; -5.5281806



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