Blake, Robert

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Blake, Robert

Robert Blake, 1599–1657, English admiral. A merchant, he sat in the Short Parliament (1640) and joined the parliamentary side in the civil war. He defended Bristol, Lyme, and Taunton against royalist attacks (1643–45). Appointed a "general at sea" (1649), he embarked on a brilliant naval career in his middle age. In 1650 he pursued the royalist fleet under Prince Rupert to Portugal, where he intercepted a large Portuguese treasure fleet at the mouth of the Tagus River. He caught up with Rupert in the Mediterranean and virtually destroyed his fleet. In 1651 he captured the Scilly Islands from royalist privateers and helped to reduce Jersey. In the first of the Dutch Wars he won several major victories against the Dutch and suffered one serious defeat. In 1655 he attacked and destroyed a Barbary pirate fleet at Porto Farino. In the winter of 1656–57 he blockaded the Spanish coast and sank the Spanish fleet at Santa Cruz. Made a member of the council of state in 1651, he helped to develop the effective Commonwealth navy.

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