Captain Francisco de Cuéllar

The Armada, Ireland, and the Wars of the Spanish Monarchy, 1578–1606

Francis Kelly

Hardback €31.50
Catalogue Price: €35.00
This title is currently only available for US deliveries
ISBN: 978-1-84682-875-1
November 2020. 312pp; ills

"Even after centuries of study, stories about the Spanish Armada of 1588 still capture the imagination. Among these we can count the fates of ships wrecked off the coast of Ireland on their way back to Spain and the men who were on them. Perhaps most famously, Francisco de Cuéllar, a sailor and soldier, has left a historical imprint, especially because he left for posterity an account of his perambulations through Ireland ... Kelly provides, as far as can be reconstructed an exhaustive narrative of Cuéllar's career ... Taken as a whole, there are very few quibbles to be had with such a formidable work ... Perhaps Kelly's most admirable trait as a writer is that he reminds us of the extraordinary lives lived by men of war, so many now forgotten. As Kelly shows, occasionally they can be revived through the patient excavation of sources and the application of a lively historical imagination." Freddy C. Domínguez, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Journal of British Studies 2024

"Francis Kelly’s book goes beyond this well-known ‘Irish tour’ of Cuéllar: its aim is to place the individual in his time, reviewing his life and professional experience in the age in which he has lived. And here lies, in our opinion, the great value of this book … Along with this book’s broad vision, the author also brilliantly presents some particular episodes in which Cuéllar took part, such as the naval battle between his squadron and a small English fleet off the coast of San Vicente, Brazil, in 1583 ... The book is brilliantly edited, in the high-quality tradition of Four Courts Press. It has high quality maps and illustrations, with a glossary of Spanish words and currencies, and some valuable appendices. The index at the end of the book is also complete and of great help to the reader. Finally, the narration is fast, vivid, and captures the reader at all times. In short, Cuéllar’s famous account as a survivor of the Armada has been re-evaluated, and now Francisco de Cuéllar has also a brilliant biography." Óscar Recio Morales, The English Historical Review

"Captain Francisco de Cuéllar: The Armada, Ireland, and the Wars of the Spanish monarchy, 1578-1606 is a brilliant read capturing the amazing life and career of one of the most enigmatic Captains to have ever served in the Spanish Military ... Prone to controversy, Captain Cuéllar had a tendency to clash with his superiors, which led to multiple arrests, tribunals of inquiry, and court-martial. His triumphs and travails are explored against the backdrop of the major conflicts of the late sixteenth century … Drawing on previously undiscovered documents from Spanish and Belgian archives, this book chronicles, for the first time, Cuéllar's entire military service - from the earliest evidence of him as a soldier in 1578, to our final glimpse of him in 1606 … Besides an in-depth reassessment of his Irish experiences, this study explores the rise and fall of the enigmatic captain in the military profession. The story of Captain Cuéllar's career encapsulates, in vivid detail, the life of a soldier of the late sixteenth century." The Sligo Champion, November 2020.

“In a thoroughly engaging work of academic research that at times reads as a modern version of the Hollywood film “The Fugitive,” Francis Kelly explores the rise and fall of this enigmatic captain (Francisco de Cuéllar) in the military profession and captures in vivid detail, the life of a soldier of the late sixteenth century … De Cuéllar’s memoirs of his time in Ireland gives a unique and fascinating historical insight into contemporary Gaelic culture and customs, much of which was to be swept away following the succeeding Nine Years War (1593-1603); in Ulster the last Gaelic bastion and resistance to English Tudor encroachment was sealed by the “Flight of the Earls” in 1607, when Hugh O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell took refuge in Spain, never to return. This work will remain the definitive account of the enigmatic and capricious de Cuéllar. It is fascinating, not only because of his Irish coda but also his career as a soldier in mainland Europe and in the Spanish Americas (one of the largest empires in history) which in conjunction with the Portuguese, were the first to usher the European Age of Discovery and achieve a global scale. His Irish experience begs a movie picture and Kelly has written the script.” Rory Finnegan, An Cosantóir (Jan/Feb 2023)