July 20th Mounts Bay Sacked by the Spanish

On this day in 1595, Spanish marauders attacked Penzance and the nearby coastal villages of Newlyn, Mousehole and Paul.  This raid continued the conflicts between Catholic Spain and Protestant England, which were aggravated in Cornwall by the continuing resentment over the introduction of the Revised Book of Common Prayer which had led to the Cornish Prayer Book Rebellion (1549).

Sir Francis Godolphin, grandfather of Sidney Godolphin (January 15th) had written to Queen Elizabeth I expressing concerns about possible attacks by the Spanish and his fears materialised when, on this day in 1595, four Spanish ships carrying four hundred soldiers arrived off the coast. Two hundred men fired the village of Mousehole and the Church in Paul. 

The locals fled to Penzance where Sir Francis Godolphin attempted to organise resistance to defend the town.  Meanwhile all four hundred soldiers landed at Newlyn and destroyed the town whilst Godolphin was unable to raise anyone other than his own men to fight the Spanish. 

The Spaniards moved on to Penzance, set fire to the town,  destroying four hundred houses before holding a mass on the beach and returning to their vessels.  It has been suggested that the Cornish did not fight back because they still held on to their Catholic beliefs and that Godolphin did not fail to raise a defence but chose not to since, as a Catholic, he had allegedly favoured a Spanish invasion.

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