Sir Francis Drake was the most famous of the sea captains who roved theoceans during the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. The Queen encouraged the “SeaDogs” as the captains were called, to raid Spanish shipping. She gave themmoney and ships for such voyages, and she shared in the treasure they broughtback. Drake lived in the great age of piracy and became one of the most fearedpirates of his time. In 1580, he and his crew became the first Englishmen to sailaround the world.EARLY LIFEFrancis Drake was born around 1540, near Plymouth in Devonshire. In1549, his family moved to Rochester, a busy seaport, and it was here that hispassion for the sea was cultivated. As a youth, Drake sailed on short commercialvoyages along the French coast. From 1566 to 1569, he sailed on two slave-trading voyages organized by his cousin Sir John Hawkins. These voyages gaveDrake valuable sailing experience.In 1567, Drake commanded the Judithon Hawkins’ second expedition. On the return trip, the ships stopped at the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulua, near Veracruz, where they were attacked by a fleetof Spanish ships. Only the Judithand Hawkins’ ship, the Minion, escaped. Drake’s passionate hate for the Spanish had been sparked. From 1570-1572, Queen Elizabeth sent Drake on looting missions to the West Indies. In 1572, he seized several Spanish ships off the coast of Panama. He then captured the port of Nombre de Dios, near Colon, looted the town, and ambushed a mule train carrying Peruvian silver across the Isthmus of Panama. From then on, the Spaniards called him El Draque (the dragon). And, by the time he returned to England in 1577 he was both rich and famous.VOYAGES AROUND THE WORLDOn December 13, 1577, Drake and more than 160 men sailed from Plymouth aboard the Pelican, the Elizabeth, and the Marigold. Two smaller ships, the Swan and the Benedict, carried supplies.