Sunday, June 20

Two cannons emerge from the fleet of Felipe II sunk in A Coruña: he was going to invade England in 1596

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Old and sick, Philip II He did not want to die without seeing one of the main companies of his reign triumph: the invasion england. After the taking and sacking of Cádiz at the end of June 1596 by a large Anglo-Dutch fleet, the Spanish monarch decided to go on the offensive and organize a new expedition with the aim of helping the Irish insurgents. The command of the 130 vessels fell to Martin de Padilla, ahead of Castile and decisive figure in the victory over the Contra Armada in 1589, which set sail in a hasty way, before Marcos de Aramburu arrived in A Coruña with eleven other galleons.

The quick march was due to fear that autumn and its worst weather conditions would ruin the mission. Paradoxically, that is what happened. On October 28, a strong storm he pushed to the bottom of the sea, between Corcubión and Finisterre, about thirty ships. According to written sources, about two thousand men died. “It was a naval catastrophe, more ships sank than in the Invincible Armada [de 1588]”, highlights the underwater archaeologist Miguel San Claudio, who has excavated some of these wrecks.

These days, the trail of Martín de Padilla’s expedition – the following year he would lead another one that was settled with a new failure – has re-emerged. Last Thursday, a team of divers from the Spanish Navy belonging to the Ferrol Diving Unit (UBUFER), in coordination with the Archaeological Heritage and Coast Guard Service of the Xunta de Galicia, recovered in the vicinity of Cape Corrubedo, in the south of the Coruña coast, two pieces of artillery from the end of the 16th century. As explained to this newspaper by San Claudio, who also participated in the immersion, it is about a half cannon cast in 1587 and a later half saker, both made of bronze. The main hypothesis of the researchers is that they belong to one of the ships of the fleet that sank in 1596.

“One of these pieces was probably cast in Seville or Lisbon and we have more doubts about the other, perhaps in Flanders; but they were made for the king of Spain“adds the underwater archaeologist. The identification of the cannons, in which some royal shields appear, has been possible thanks to the collaboration of Gianni Ridella and Javier López, specialists in 16th century artillery, although more exhaustive studies will be carried out to specify their origin. “They are unique pieces because none of this time had appeared in Galicia and because they are of Spanish origin; Until now all those documented were Italian “, highlights San Claudio.

The discovery was made fortuitously by a couple of shellfish men from the Aguiño brotherhood, who notified the competent authorities of the presence of three guns. The Navy divers, following the guidelines of the Xunta Heritage Service, proceeded to extract the artillery pieces, which were at a depth of about 16-18 meters. “Regarding the third cannon, the existence of the same was not located or certified,” Navy sources point out to this newspaper. The Galician Government has opened an investigation to determine if someone could move it or remove it from the fund illegally.

The fishermen pointed out that in the area they also identified an anchor and other objectsBut underwater archaeologists were not authorized to carry out a full survey and check whether there was a wreck or not. Navy sources express their commitment to the protection of underwater archaeological heritage and point out that future dives could be made on the site jointly and in coordination with the Xunta in the event of receiving the corresponding request for collaboration.

Two cannons from the end of the 16th century, found in A Coruña

“It is a finding that reaffirms the premise that we have always maintained that Galicia is very rich in underwater cultural heritage, especially from this period, when it became battle front against English and Protestants and on the scene of numerous war episodes “, San Claudio closes listing the main characters: Felipe II, Queen Elizabeth II, the pirate Francis Drake …” In the background an archaeological record has been concentrated in the form of ships, objects and materials that are among the richest of the time. “And what remains to emerge.

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