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Francis Drake

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"Sir Francis Drake" redirects here. For the musical composition, see Sir Francis Drake (composition).

"There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until to be thoroughly finished yields true glory."
— Sir Francis Drake, 1587

Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral (1540 – 28 January 1596), was an English privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Queen Elizabeth I awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He died of dysentery after unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1596.

In the Uncharted series, Nathan Drake believes himself to be the descendant of Francis Drake.

Birth and early yearsEdit

Francis Drake was born a mile south of Tavistock, Devon, in February or March 1540. He was the eldest of the twelve sons of Edmund Drake, a Protestant farmer who later became a preacher, and his wife Mary Mylwaye.

Before he turned thirteen, Drake started his sea career when he became an apprentice member of a crew trading between the Thames and the cross-Channel ports. He became owner-master of the ship at the age of twenty after the death of its previous captain, who bequeathed it to him. At age twenty-three, Drake made his first voyage to the New World, sailing, in company with his second cousin, Sir John Hawkins, on one of a fleet of ships owned by his relatives, the Hawkins family of Plymouth.

In 1569 he was again with the Hawkins fleet when it was trapped by the Spaniards in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua. He escaped along with Hawkins but the experience is said to have led him to his lifelong hatred of the Spanish.

Circumnavigating the worldEdit

In 1577 Queen had initiated a mission, Drake started an expedition against the Spanish along the Pacific coast of the Americas. He set out from Plymouth on 15 November 1577, but bad weather threatened him and his fleet so they returned to Plymouth for repair. After this major setback, he set sail once again on 13 December, aboard the Pelican, with four other ships and 164 men. He soon added a sixth ship, the Mary (formerly Santa Maria) which had been captured off the coast of Africa from the Spaniards.

Drake's fleet suffered greatly; he scuttled two ships due to loss of men on the crossing. At San Julian, Argentina, the Mary was found to be rotten and was burned. Drake decided to remain the winter in San Julian before attempting the Straits of Magellan.

The three remaining ships of his convoy departed for the Magellan Strait, at the southern tip of South America. A few weeks later (September 1578) Drake made it to the Pacific, but violent storms destroyed one of the three ships in the strait and caused another to return to England, leaving only the Pelican. After this passage the Pelican was pushed south.

He pushed onwards in his lone flagship, now renamed the Golden Hind . The Golden Hind sailed north along the Pacific coast of South America, attacking Spanish ports and rifling towns. Some Spanish ships were captured, and Drake used their more accurate charts.

Near Lima, Drake captured a Spanish ship laden with 25,000 pesos of Peruvian gold (about £7m by modern standards). Drake also discovered news of another ship, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, which was sailing west towards Manila. Drake gave chase and eventually captured the treasure ship which proved their most profitable capture. Aboard the Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, Drake found 80 lb (36 kg) of gold, a golden crucifix, jewels, 13 chests full of royals of plate and 26 tons of silver.

On 17 June 1579, Drake landed somewhere north of Spain's northern-most claim near Point Reyes, now in Central California. He found a good port, landed, and with help from the natives, repaired and restocked his vessels, then stayed for a time, keeping friendly relations with the natives. He claimed the land in the name of the Holy Trinity for the English Crown, and named the area Nova Albion, or New Britain.

The precise location of the port was carefully guarded to keep it secret from the Spaniards, and several of Drake's maps may even have been altered to this end. All first-hand records from the voyage, including logs, paintings and charts were burned in 1698.

It is known that Drake and his men sailed north from here in search of a western opening to the Northwest Passage, a potentially valuable asset to the English at the time. During this venture the sailors accurately mapped the area. They had a rough voyage among the islands of the Alaskan panhandle, and were forced to turn back due to freezing weather.

Drake then headed westward across the Pacific. He made multiple stops on his way toward the tip of Africa, eventually rounded the Cape of Good Hope. On 26 September the Golden Hinde sailed into Plymouth with Drake and 59 remaining crew aboard, along with a rich cargo of spices and captured Spanish treasures.


Hailed as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the Earth, Drake was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth aboard the Golden Hinde on 4 April 1581. Considering the friction with Spain, on the occasion of the knighting, Elizabeth I handed the sword to the Marquis de Marchaumont, ambassador from France, and asked him to dub Drake as the knight. However, the story was promoted that Elizabeth I had done the actual knighting.

The Queen ordered all written accounts of Drake's voyage to be considered classified information, and its participants sworn to silence on pain of death.

In 1580 Drake purchased Buckland Abbey, a large manor near Yelverton in Devon.

Drake's Final yearsEdit

Drake's seafaring career continued into his mid-fifties. In 1595, following a disastrous campaign against Spanish America, where he suffered several defeats in a row, he unsuccessfully attacked San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Spanish gunners from El Morro Castle shot a cannonball through the cabin of Drake's flagship, but he survived.

In 1596, he died of dysentery, at age 56 while anchored off the coast of Portobelo, Panama where some Spanish treasure ships had sought shelter. He was buried at sea in a lead coffin, near Portobelo. Divers continue the search for the coffin...

Cultural impactEdit

Drake's exploits as an explorer have become an enduring part of the world's consciousness, particularly in Europe. Numerous stories and fictional adaptations of his adventures exist to this day. He is considered a hero in England.

In the Uncharted seriesEdit

The following takes place during Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.


Nathan Drake believes himself to be a descendant of Francis Drake, defying the belief that Francis Drake never had any children. As a symbol of his belief, he wears Francis Drake's Ring on a leather strap around his neck. Elena Fisher points this out to Nate, but he claims that "history can be wrong".

After Faking his DeathEdit

Francis Drake faked his death on the 28th of January 1596, and the coffin that was buried at sea contained only his diary.

On the 29th of January, one day after, he had a ring made (later acquired by Nathan Drake). Engraved on this ring was his motto, Sic Parvis Magna, the date, 29th January 1596, and the co-ordinates of his empty coffin off the coast of Panama.

He then travelled to the Pacific island where the Spaniards hid El Dorado. Once there, he learned of the curse of El Dorado and destroyed the ships that had brought him there, in an attempt to stop the treasure from leaving the island. He then returned to the treasure vault where he wrote his final message to the world:

"My end is near. The devils hunt for me in the darkness. The gold of El Dorado bears a terrible curse. The Spaniards have unleashed hell, and become as demons. My men have all been mudered, leaving the task to me alone. No ship will depart this island. I destroyed them all. Drowned the cursed city. A thing of such great evil must never leave these shores. In my final hour, I commend my soul to God. May he have mercy on this unholy place."
— Francis Drake

His body was later found by Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher in a cutscene at the end of The Treasure Vault, bloody and clawed upon.

"It's Drake. He never found it. He just... died here. *sigh* So much for greatness. Wasted his life... for nothin."
— Nathan Drake


Chapter 17 - The Heart of the Vault (Body Found)

Drake's final diary entryEdit

The missing page of Drake's diary had, it seems, fallen into the hands of The Third Reich and it was rediscovered by Nathan Drake in the heart of the Island Bunker, along with the film evidence captured by the Nazis which authenticated the "The Curse of El Dorado". In Uncharted 2, Nate is shown to have taped the entry into his own journal.

"My end is near, the devils hunt for me in the darkness. The Gold of El Dorado bears a terrible curse.

The Spaniards have unleashed Hell and become as Demons. My men have all been murdered, leaving the task to me alone, no ship shall depart this island. I destroyed them all and drowned the cursed city.

A thing of such great evil must never leave these shores. In my final hour I commend my soul to God.

May he have mercy on this unholy place.

Francis Drake

Uncharted 2: Among ThievesEdit

Francis Drake is available as an unlockable singleplayer skin in Among Thieves, albeit in skeleton form. He is the only skeleton in Uncharted 2 that is only available in Single Player. He cost $30 000.

Uncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionEdit

Francis Drake belonged to a secret Hermetic society, headed by Queen Elizabeth. The society included many notable members, including but not limited to: the British Occult Secret Service, the School of Night, the Hellfire Club, the Order of the Golden Dawn, John Dee, Francis Walsingham & Walter Raleigh. This society acted as a spy network, whose reach extended all the way to Syria. The ultimate goal of the society was power; they earned it through espionage, deception, fear etc. In London, they had a massive hideout which connected with the rest of the underground tunnel system & the main tunnel line. The hideout featured Victorian ironwork & a secret library of Tudor/16th century material.

Sometime in 1580 or 1581, Drake was given a secret mission by Queen Elizabeth, John Dee & Francis Walsingham to find Iram of the Pillars, along with another mission to circumnavigate the globe. Drake reached the Arabian Peninsula after exiting the East Indies, and in trying to find Iram, discovered a chamber of sorts underneath Yemen (via a well with a pentagram-esque symbol). He sketched the controls to open the way to the cistern on the back of his map and wrote the message "The moon will show the way" in Enochian script on the walls should future explorers try to find Iram. He proceeded into the chamber; what he saw (presumably the effects of the tainted water from Ubar, though how it could be there in the first place is unknown) was enough for him to stop his secret mission altogether. Drake then realized that the water was what the Queen wanted. He wrote 6 messages (in English) on the walls of the chamber before leaving :

1) Let not the world deceive thee with its beauty

2) It is the dream of a dreamer, a mirage of the desert

3) The cup of death will be filled for thee

4) The devil adorneth it for man until death

5) Their wealth did not save them

6) What has become of the rulers of the Earth

After returning from his trip, he lied to the Queen and told her he didn't find anything on his voyage. By doing this, the society he, the Queen & many others were part of did not have the means to control through fear. Essentially, he rewrote history, as countless people in the future would believe his saying of how it took him 6 months to sail through the East Indies when a month was more likely, given his sailing skills. Regardless of Drake's "failure", he was knighted and given a ring by the Queen, inscribed with the motto "Sic Parvis Magna" (translated as 'greatness from small beginnings'). He hid all traces of his voyage, by hiding the map of his trip to Arabia (which was signed by John Dee in a 007 mark) in the deer figurehead of his ship, the Golden Hind. Dee created a decoder (which looked like an astrolabe) which when joined with Drake's ring, would reveal the message 'Long Hidden', an anagram for Golden Hind; the reasons for this are unknown. His ship was also broken down, as a chair in Buckland Abbey is made out of the wood of his ship.


  • Drake's map was outlined with Sabean script; this was unusual since Sabean symbols were used by the ancient Arabian peoples and nomads. The most probable reason for this would be that Dee outlined the map with the symbols, given as he traced the clues back to the Crusades.
  • The other possible reason is that the map was actually a map from Yemen, and since Sabean script is from Yemen, it explains why there is Sabean script on the map.
  • Francis Drake's skeleton in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is much different than the one from Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 3.
  • Francis Drake's leitmotif throughout the series is entitled "Sir Francis Drake" and was composed by Greg Edmonson. It features prominently throughout Drake's Fortune and Drake's Deception.
  • It is very strange that after over four hundred years after his death, Drake's facial hair stays on his face, and looks very prominent.


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