Francis Drake sails against the ArmadaIn the 16th century, Spain was a powerful kingdom. It ruled over other parts of Europe as well as its vast new empire in the Americas. Its king, Philip II, was a Catholic. He was angry with England, which was ruled by its Protestant queen, Elizabeth. She had given her approval to English privateers attacking Spanish treasure ships. She had sent help to Dutch rebels fighting for independence from Spain. And she had executed her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. Philip decided to act. In 1588, he sent a huge Armada (navy) to invade England and overthrow Elizabeth.