The Spanish Armada (Spanish: Grande y FelicÃsima Armada or Armada Invencible, literally "Great and Most Fortunate Navy" or "Invincible Fleet") was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England and putting an end to her involvement in the Spanish Netherlands and in privateering in the Atlantic and Pacific.
After choosing not to attack the English fleet at Plymouth and failing to establish a temporary anchorage in the Solent, where one Spanish ship was captured by Francis Drake, the Armada anchored off Calais. While awaiting communications from the Duke of Parma's army the Armada was scattered by an English fire ship attack. In the ensuing Battle of Gravelines the Spanish fleet was damaged and forced to abandon its rendezvous with Parma's army, who were blockaded in harbour by Dutch flyboats. The Armada managed to regroup and, driven by southwest winds, withdraw north, with the English fleet harrying it for some distance up the east coast of England. The commander decided that the fleet should return to Spain; it sailed around Scotland and Ireland, but severe storms disrupted it. More than 24 vessels were wrecked on the western coasts of Ireland. Of the fleet's initial 130 ships, about fifty never returned to Spain.
The expedition was the largest engagement of the undeclared Angloâ€“Spanish War (1585â€“1604). The following year England organised a similar large-scale campaign against Spain, the Drake-Norris Expedition, also known as the Counter Armada of 1589, which was unsuccessful.