World History/Sir Francis Drake term paper 13900

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Sir Francis Drake, the English call him hero. The Spanish call him El Draque (the dragon); as most Spaniards would consider Drake a pirate. The truth of the matter is that he was neither; he was in fact an opportunist.

A hero as defined by the dictionary is Any man noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose; especially, one who has risked or sacrificed his life . To us a hero is something more, a hero is a man that we can all look up to; a man of integrity and nobility. Sir Francis Drake has a number of heroic traits. One aspect of a hero is that he overcomes adversity. Sir Francis Drake overcame a very adverse background. He was born sometime around 1540 near Tavistock. Growing up poor he lived in the hull of a ship; interestingly he would spend the rest of his life on or around these ships. Drake was extremely intelligent and a hard worker; he eventually got a ship of his own. A hero also does something that makes him appear larger than life. Drake was the first English man to circumnavigate the globe. Sir Francis Drake also took part in destroying the Spanish Armada. These events rocketed him to great fame in England.

Pirates are almost the complete the opposite of heroes. These men are notorious for death and destruction, murder and mayhem. This is what the Spanish thought of Sir Francis Drake. Drake has many of the attributes of a pirate. One of these attributes is destruction. Sir Francis Drake looted many ships and harbors, taking what he wanted and discarding what he didn t. One such raid was on Nombre de Dios. This raid on Spain s biggest gold port in South America would have been successful if it were not for his men running as soon as he got injured and fainted. Drake also showed cruelty toward his own crew. At one time even going so far as to sink a ship with its full crew on board.

Drake has both the characteristics of a hero and a pirate. This was not because he was confused or crazy rather it is because he was what ever suited him best at any particular time. In other words he is an opportunist finding what is most profitable and doing exactly that. Sir Francis Drake may have given money to the throne, but only to protect himself from Spain. He may have looted and killed, but for the money he could gain himself.

Sir Francis Drake was an opportunist from the very beginning. Drake started by smuggling goods to Spain. The Spanish gladly bought whatever he had; as it was not taxed and much cheaper than people doing honest business. That is not something a hero or pirate would do but an opportunist. When the war broke out Drake found an opportunity he couldn t pass up. Raiding undefended ports and ships was far easier than smuggling, and the rewards were far greater. Drake gave part of his money to the crown and was not only made rich, but also now considered a hero. When presented the opportunity to sack ports in the Pacific, Drake jumped at it. The ports in the Pacific were totally undefended. The Spanish had no reason to fear an attack in the Pacific; in fact Drake was the first English man ever to sail in the Pacific. Drake became incredibly rich after his circumnavigation of the world making over 500,000 pounds back in the 1500 s.

People tend to believe what is most comfortable to them. The English chose to view Drake as a hero. The Spanish chose to view him as a pirate or as they called him El Draque . Drake was a man who appeared to be many things to many people, but at heart he was just an opportunist who found the right opportunities.


+ Benda, Harry J. Spain and Philip II. In History of the world, Eds. John Hall and John Kirk. Hong Kong: Bison books Ltd, 1988

+ Benton, William. Drake, Sir Francis. Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., XII, pp 626.

+ Dixon, Brian. Sir Francis Drake. (On line) available 11/14/99

+ Kelsey, Harry. The Queen s Pirate. (On line) available 11/14/99

+ Morris, William. Hero. The American Heritage Dictionary

+ Pirates & privateers (On line) available 11/16/99

+ Sir Francis Drake. (On line) available 11/16/99

+ Sir Francis Drake. Microsoft Encarta, 1997

+ Sir Francis Drake is still capable of kicking up a fuss. (On line) available 11/16/99

+ Snell, Tee L. America s Beginnings. Washington, D.C. National Geographic Society, 1974

+ Walburn, Richard. (On line) available 11/16/99


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