Sometimes one person can change the course of history in huge and remarkable ways. Sir Francis Drake, our real-life hero from Under Drake’s Flag was such a man. Through his faith, courage, determination, and skill, Drake accomplished in his lifetime what many of us can only dream about.
We know Sir Francis Drake was a remarkable navigator and sea captain. Through his experience, he helped the English defeat the mighty and “invincible” Spanish armada. Not to mention he was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe and achieved knighthood for his accomplishments. On top of all those amazing feats, Drake’s real legacy centers around the fact he was a man of devout Christian faith.
What Happened To Drake?
Like with any good story, whether it be fact or fiction – we the reader want to know what ultimately happens to our most favorite heroes. Sir Francis Drake is no different. As this issue of the Live The Adventure Letter goes to press, we remember the day of Drake’s passing, some four hundred and nineteen years ago in January of 1596.
Because we don’t know his exact birth date (circa 1540), we think Drake was somewhere in his mid-50s when he died. In 1595, he accepted one last assignment from the Queen and took on the Spanish Main yet once more. Drake and his cousin, John Hawkins, were sent to capture Spain’s treasure supply located in and around Panama. The Queen thought that seizing the Spanish assets in this area would dry up their reserves and help end the war once and for all.
Unfortunately, this time Drake would not be successful. The expedition failed and Drake lost the Battle of San Juan. After a few skirmishes in the Caribbean, Drake moved his fleet farther west and anchored off the coast of Portobello, Panama. It was there that Drake succumbed to dysentery (then called the “bloody flux”) on or around January 27/28th, 1596.
Legend has it that shortly before his death, Drake himself asked to be buried in his full suit of armor. He was buried at sea in a lead coffin somewhere off the coast of Puerto Bello, Panama in waters thought to be around 129 feet deep.
Shortly after his death, the English fleet withdrew.
To this very day, divers continue to search for the famous lead coffin of Sir Francis Drake. Several sources, as recent as 2013, have reported being incredibly close to finding his watery resting place, however no official announcement has ever been made.
To add a little more intrigue to the story, there is somewhat of a controversy already brewing should Drake’s remains actually be found. Under the protection of the Military Remains Act of 1986, British naval vessels anywhere in the world are protected from exploitation.
But, in truth, the act only covers ships that have sunk since 1914 and only British citizens can be prosecuted under the act. However, it is to be noted that several sources within the British government have said (off the record, of course) that they have no interest in bringing Drake home and are reluctant to moving the lead coffin, should it ever be found. Meanwhile, several private explorers and Drake enthusiasts would like to see Drake’s lead coffin be brought up from the sea in order for the public to pay respects to such a hero.
As with many things in history, time will just have to tell.