Francisco de Zurbarán: The Defense of Cadiz against the English (1634)

(Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain)

This historical painting shows the unsuccessful raid by an English/ Dutch force under George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, and Edward Cecil, 1st Viscount Wimbledon, against Cadiz on 1–7 November 1625. The main objective of the attack were the Spanish treasure ships but the voyage was plagued with difficulties that they entirely missed the treasure ships. Instead they decided to land their militia army up the coast and attack Cadiz. The English forces were ill-equipped, ill-disciplined and ill-trained and when they came to a warehouse filled with wine, they simply got drunk. The Spanish army counter-attacked and simply killed the English troops who were to drunk put up a fight. The English commanders called off the attack and returned to England, having lost about 7,000 men and lost 62 of the 105 ships. The failed expedition seriously damaged the status of Charles I, king of England, who dissolved parliament in order to protect his own dignity and his favorite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham. The painting shows Fernando Girón, marquis of Sofraga and Governor of Cadiz (seated because he was sick during the battle) giving order to his subordinates. In front of Fernando Girón stands Diego Ruiz, serving as Maestro de campo. In the background we can see the English ships and troops being defeated. This painting is from 1634.

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