A naval myth scuppered

25th March 2005 at 00:00
Chris Woodhead's dismay that many children do not know that Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish Armada (TES, March 11) should be tempered by the reflection that Sir Francis Drake didn't.

Drake was a subordinate of Lord Howard of Effingham, who commanded the English fleet.

Drake neither claimed nor received credit for the Armada's failure. The victory medal struck during the period attributed the English success to God, and the queen was rather disappointed that more Spanish ships had not been captured.

This is not just another instance of Woodhead not knowing what he's talking about. The fallacy exemplifies a dangerous tendency to explain historical events in terms of the achievements of "the leader".

Twentieth-century history is full of the tragic consequences of such lazy thinking, and history teachers deserve congratulations for resisting it.

Andy Connell

11 Mill Hill



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