A Cloud Smaller Than a Fist

Sometimes out here on the prairie way off in the southwest you will see a small dark cloud that is not very noticeable but if know what you’re looking at;  you may realize that stormy weather is coming in. History is like that sometimes too. Sometimes a small local event echoes down the halls of history with its reverberations growing until they shake the world.

Constantine’s deathbed conversion to Christianity was like that. it had no real importance at the time but echoes down the corridors of time to this day. So was the death of Genghis Khan and the Battle of Salamis. So was the signing of the Declaration of Independence, for that matter, until made good in American blood.

Today is the anniversary of another one of those events. Today a ship landed in Plymouth, England. This was not uncommon, Plymouth then as now was one of England great ports.

The ship was unusual though, it had been damaged by grounding on a reef, it carried amongst other things, several tons of cloves, nearly unheard of in England. Probably, they didn’t know what they were missing; there weren’t any Virginia Hams, either. But Virginia’s namesake was interested in this ship.

The ship had sailed from Plymouth nearly 3 years earlier in company with four of her sisters. The other four had all been lost or turned back in their many adventures.

For the ship and her company had accomplished a great feat, they had circumnavigated the Earth. They had visited South America, had sailed north in the Pacific to Vancouver, refitted and claimed land around San Fransisco Bay, had made port in the Philippines and the Spice Islands and made it home again.

This ship was no ordinary ship, though, for this was the fabulous Golden Hind, captained by none other than Francis Drake, soon to be knighted on board by Queen Elizabeth I.

The replica of the Golden Hind; courtesy of Annette Fisher

An important event no doubt, for this was the first circumnavigation by anyone but a Spaniard, but not really earthshaking, you say.

You could have been right, like the Declaration it depends on subsequent events. But on this September 26, in the Year of our Lord 1580, we are less than 9 years away from the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the beginning of the long, slow and painful defeat of Imperial Spain , which would see the famous red and orange ensign fly for the last time in 1898 as the Spanish fleets surrendered to those stepchildren of medieval England, the Americans, at Santiago and Manila Bay.

That long slow decline, and the ascendancy of the English Speaking peoples at sea and around the world begins here.

As so often in history, the contrafactuals are fascinating. If the Golden Hind hadn’t survived, without Drake would the English have (with the help of the storm) have beaten the Armada, if not, would there have been English colonies, and all that they represent to our world today, in North America.

But Sir Francis did make it. The North American Colonies were started and in time became the United States of America, Canada was conquered and became a British Commonwealth. Australia and New Zealand were founded and prospered. India was conquered and liberated by Gandhi. The sun that never set on the British Empire finally did; but not until America was ready to take her place as Viceroy of King Neptune.

And so 431 years ago today, occurred one of the seminal events of modern world history.

About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

5 Responses to A Cloud Smaller Than a Fist

  1. Freedom, by the way says:

    It’s all connected, isn’t it? Thanks for a great post.


  2. It is, and there lies the fascination with, and importance of, history. Everything is built on what has gone before.


  3. Pingback: Happy Columbus Day « nebraskaenergyobserver

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