The middle years of the 1590s brought a sharp change in the emphasis of English policy in the war against Spain. The five or six years that followed the defeat of the 1588 Spanish Armada had seen English anxieties still focused predominantly upon the Spanish army in the Netherlands, as they had been ever since the Duke of Alba had brought that army into those countries in 1567. In 1588, English seamen had certainly been surprised, and impressed, by the strength of the ‘Invincible’ Armada. But the disasters that befell it meant that it was another six or seven years before Spain could again assemble a navy capable of threatening England. Moreover, even while the Armada had been in English waters the deepest English anxieties had still focused upon the Duke of Parma's army in Flanders. For it was that army that was to have been the invasion force. The Armada, although it brought some reinforcements, was only its escort, to secure it a safe crossing to England by defeating or at least holding off the English fleet.
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