This resource has been created for teachers and students preparing for the 2024 Historic Environment paper. It could also be used by those studying Tudor England as an enquiry into Drake and the significance of his circumnavigation.
How significant was the Circumnavigation?
In November 1577 a small fleet of ships left Plymouth commanded by Francis Drake. Nearly three years later one ship, Golden Hind, returned. Its surviving crew had become only the second ever to complete a voyage all the way around the world.
This was a huge achievement but why was this event significant, both in Tudor England and beyond?
These resources are designed to be used in the classroom or independently by students to consider the impact and ongoing significance of Drake and the Circumnavigation.
What was Francis Drake's Background and what how did he end up circumnavigating the globe?
Use the three videos, created by Oxford University Press working with the National Maritime Museum learning team, to learn about Drake's background and the voyage that became his circumnavigation. The below worksheet has questions to help you consider some key issues and ideas about Drake and the significance of his voyage. It is split into three sections, one for each of the videos below.
Who was Francis Drake? What was his background? Why did he set off on a voyage that ended up going round the world?
What was the original plan and who supported Drake?
When Golden Hind set off many of the crew thought they were going to the Mediterranean Sea. How did they end up sailing around the world and what happened on the way?
The voyage of the Golden Hind around the world had a range of impacts, but how significant were these?
Use this collection of resource cards and the investigation table to plan an answer to this question. Find evidence of the impacts of the circumnavigation using the cards and then fill these into the appropriate areas on the table. When this is done assess how significant each of these consequences of the circumnavigation were.
This can then be used as a plan for a piece of structured writing to answer the overall question 'How significant was Francis Drake's circumnavigation voyage?'
This portrait of Sir Francis Drake was painted in 1591. Like other Tudor era portraiture it includes specific imagery and symbols designed to communicate important messages to the viewer.
What was the message that this portrait was aiming to communicate?
Use the worksheet below to investigate this imagery and then write an answer the question above.
These images are of objects in the Museum's collection. They can be used in lessons or used to create resources for personal use.
This map, made around 1606, has a rare representation of Captain Drake's Ship shown at Deptford. It is included as a significant landmark.
This medal was produced to commemorate Drake's circumnavigation voyage. One of the nine, formerly in the collection of the Earl of Caledon, has a cartouche identifying the maker as Michael Mercator, grandson of the Dutch cartographer, Gerard Mercator the elder. It indicates that the medallion was sold in London in 1589. There is some evidence that they were cast from an engraved original. Drake's route is indicated by a dotted line with tiny ships. The date of his landing on the Californian coast is given incorrectly as 1580 instead of 1579.
A triple portrait of three Elizabethan explorers. On the left is John Hawkins shown slightly to right in black, wearing a hat and gold chains. Hawkins commanded several expeditions to the Spanish colonies in the Americas and traded enslaved Africans. He was treasurer and controller of the navy in 1573 and did much to ensure that the new construction for the fleet was ships of the galleon type to carry heavy ordnance as their principal means of offence. He died at sea off Porto Rico when on an expedition against the Spanish.
Drake, Hawkins’s cousin, stands in the centre, and his right arm leans against a globe to denote the adventurers. He wears a sleeveless leather doublet. From relatively humble beginnings and early experiences at sea, Drake pursued an outstandingly successful career as a privateer Drake was the second man and first Englishman to circumnavigate the world, 1577-80. In 1587 he successfully attacked the Spanish fleet in Cadiz which was being prepared for the invasion of England. He was second in command during the Armada campaign after its defeat he commanded a number of expeditions against the Spanish both in Europe and America. It was during one of these that he died off Portobello.
Cavendish is shown standing on the right. He wears a red doublet and black cloak both sewn with pearls and a gold earring in his left ear. In 1585 Cavendish went with Grenville on a colonising expedition to Virginia. In the following year he set off on an expedition of his own with three ships to circumnavigate the word. After passing through the Straits of Magellan he successfully attacked the Spanish commerce on the west coast of South America, culminating in the taking of a large and very rich treasure ship. On his way home he discovered St Helena and arrived at Plymouth just after the defeat of the Armada in 1588. An attempt to repeat this achievement ended in failure and his death at sea in 1592.
Plate print of Drake