Sir Francis Drake: The Queen's Pirate Harry Kelsey
In this biography, Harry Kelsey seeks to shatter the familiar image of Sir Francis Drake. The Drake of legend was a pious, brave and just seaman who initiated the move to make England a great naval power and whose acts of piracy against his countries enemies earned him a knighthood for patriotism. Kelsey paints a different picture of Drake as an amoral privateer at least as interested in lining his pockets with Spanish booty as in forwarding the political goals of his country, a man who became a captain general of the English navy but never waged traditional warfare with any success. Drawing on much new evidence, Kelsey describes Drake's early life as the son of a poor family in 16th-century England. He explains how Drake dabbled in piracy, gained modest success as a merchant, and then took advantage of the hostility between Spain and England to embark on a series of pirate raids on undefended Spanish ships and ports, preempting Spanish demands for punishment by sharing much of his booty with the Queen and her councillors. Elizabeth I liked Drake because he was a charming rogue, and she made him an integral part of her war plans against Spain and its armada, but she quickly learned not to trust him with an important command: he was unable to handle a large fleet; was suspicious almost to the point of paranoia and had no understanding of personal loyalty. For Drake, the mark of success was to amass great wealth - preferably by taking if from someone else - and the primary purpose of warfare was to afford him the opportunity to accomplish this.