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this day in history 1580

Drake circumnavigates the globe

English seaman Francis Drake returns to Plymouth in the Golden Hind, becoming the first British navigator to sail the earth. In 1577, Drake set off from England on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World. Of five ships, only the Golden Hind reached the Pacific, but Drake continued unperturbed, seizing Spanish treasure and searching in vain for a northeast passage back to the Atlantic. In 1579, he set off across the Pacific. After sailing the Indian Ocean, he rounded Africa's Cape of Good Hope, returning to the Atlantic and then England. In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I visited his ship and knighted Drake. The most renowned of the Elizabethan seamen, he later played a crucial role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

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