Publication Date


Degree Granted


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Texas Christian University


This dissertation deals with the professional career of Spain’s most outstanding naval hero, Don Alvaro de Bazan, known to the English reader by his title Marques de Santa Cruz. An exceptional galley commander in his early years and one of the heroes of Lepanto, he also distinguished himself in Atlantic galleon warfare in 1582 by defeating a numerically superior French fleet in the Azores.

The life of Santa Cruz is superimposed over a background of the political machinations of Spain, Portugal, France, England, and the Ottoman Empire in the sixteenth century. Special attention is given to the sea and seamen in this drama. The Battle of Lepanto stands out as the great day of the war-galley and is analyzed in detail.

As the focus of attention in Europe shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, the galleon appeared as the prototype of the warship of succeeding centuries. The sixteenth century was a time of experimentation and transition in ship design, rigging, and armament, and these changes brought in their wake new naval tactics. Santa Cruz was one of the outstanding figures of this transitional period, and the only man to win victories as a commander of galleys (Lepanto, 1571) and galleons (Azores, 1582). He was one of Europe’s earliest advocates of sea power, and the guiding force behind Philip II’s Armada of 1588, though the Marques died before the Armada sailed. Santa Cruz embodied the characteristics that made Spain the most powerful nation in Europe in the sixteenth century.

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