'Continual, destruction in the foretop, the pox above board, the plague between decks, hell in the forecastle and the devil at the helm.' It is the summer of 1588, and the fate and future of England hangs in the balance. Obsessed by the dream of reclaiming England for the Catholic Church - and adding another country to his sprawling dominions - Philip II of Spain has assembled a fleet of huge, castle-crowned galleons that stretches for miles across the face of the ocean. In wait in the Netherlands lies a battle-hardened Spanish army, ferocious professionals with a taste for rape, looting and atrocity. Across the Channel the English are scraping together bands of barely trained men, many armed only with scythes, stakes or longbows. Great warning beacons stand all along the coast of England; torches and kindling lie to hand. Watchmen strain their eyes to see over the horizon. Their only hope lies in the English Navy. But Philip's Armada is doomed before it even leaves port. As soon as it engages with the English fleet, its shortcomings are clear in the face of superior tactics and firepower. Its hulls shot through with cannon fire, its men dying in thousands from wounds and disease, the mightiest fleet ever assembled is mercilessly harried into fleeing north, at the mercy of the elements. Over forty Spanish ships are wrecked on the Irish coast; survivors crawling ashore have their throats slit and their purses ransacked. The dream of subduing the Protestant English lies in tatters. A triumphant combination of historical detail and storytelling flair, THE CONFIDENT HOPE OF A MIRACLE draws on undiscovered and little known personal papers and records to tell the epic story of the Spanish Armada in all its scope. No book has ever conveyed in such vivid, living detail how kings, queens and courtiers, sea captains, deckhands and galley slaves, the highest and the lowest in the land, fared in those turbulent months as the fate of England teetered on the brink.