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The Spanish fleet despite its numerical advantage did not attack the English fleet based at Portsmouth and instead sailed to Calais. The Spanish army under the Duke of Parma was advancing to Calais to be transported to England. However, the English navy under Drake and Howard attacked the Armada with fireships, and this was the start of what became known as the Battle of Grave lines. The English tactic of using fire-ships, created panic among the Spaniards and the fleet was broken up into small groups of ships. The battle was to last over a week with both sides launching attacks. However, Medina-Sidonia decided to withdraw and this was decisive as it meant that the Spanish army was unable to rendezvous with the invasion army. Drake and the other English commanders were happy to let the Armada sail away from the invasion force. Then a strong wind from the southwest forced the fleet to sail to the north and into the North Sea.
Medina-Sidonia could regroup his ships and decided to withdraw to Spain and the attempt to invade England was over. Now the Armada sought only to survive and return to Spain. The inclement weather and a strong south-western meant that the Spanish could not return via the English Channel and this wind became known in England as a ‘Protestant Wind.’<ref>McDermott, James. England and the Spanish Armada: The Necessary Quarrel. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), P. 215</ref> The Spanish Command, which could not communicate with Madrid decided to round the British Isles. The Armada sailed around Scotland but all the while was harried by the English fleet. The weather was very unseasonable for that time of years and the fleet of Phillip II was battered by gales and storms. As the Armada made their way around Scotland the suffered many losses. Many more ships were wrecked on the west coast of Ireland and the survivors were hunted down and killed by natives loyal to the English crown.<ref>T. P. Kilfeather. <i>Ireland: Graveyard of the Spanish Armada</i> (Anvil Books, 1967), p. 167</ref> By the time that the remnants of the Spanish invasion fleet made it to Spain over two-thirds of the original Armada had been lost. The undeclared Anglo-Spanish War did not end with the defeat of the Armada but was to continue until 1604 and ended in a stalemate.