Everybody has heard of Sir Francis Drake. Even if you haven’t heard of him, you know of him. So quick synopsis of his career: Born in 1540 in the town of Tavistock, Devon and left for Kent with his family due to religious persecution. He was a sailor from a young age, mostly due to close family ties with a shipbuilder, and gained command of his own vessel at the age of 22 or 23 (accounts vary). He made the trip the Americas around that time, and after the defeat of San Juan de Ulúa made a couple of trips to the West Indies. At this point he began his career as a gentleman of fortune, participating in raids, primarily against the Spanish. He circumnavigated the planet from 1577 to 1580 (only the second man to do so and the first to retain his captaincy through the entire trip) and on his return to England was knighted by Elizabeth I herself. He was second in command of the British Navy against the Spanish Armada. He died of dysentery in 1596 after failing an attack on San Juan, Puerto Rico.
All very high school Social Studies. Now, here is why he was a badass.
Francis Drake came from money but he never shied away from work. He had no problem working alongside the grunts aboard his vessels and also put in a shift or two a week doing latrine duty. When it came to combat, he was in the thick of it as much as he could be while still maintaining control of his ship and crew. The man was fearless and a brilliant tactician. His men respected him and would follow him into Hell and back. One of the major reasons why Elizabeth knighted him in the first place was due to the fact that the Spanish absolutely hated the man. At one point the King of Spain offered a reward of 20,000 ducats for Drake’s life… roughly $6.5 million American today. The Spanish even had a name for him – El Draque! Which is kinda like saying “The Drake” which to us would possibly mean a male duck which only incrementally diminishes his badassitude, but still. Having “The” applied to the beginning of your name automatically inducts you into the annals of badassdom. Francis Drake is the kind of guy who would blow up his enemy’s home and not look back as he was walking away….