The Armada was the pride of Spanish military prowess in the war against England. The war had been triggered off by the support England was offering to the [rebellious Flemish provinces#LUGARES#14]. The Armada left Lisbon in 1588 under the orders of the Duke of Medina Sidonia and after a first confrontation in July of that year they had to take refuge in Calais. Other battles followed, but the English always had the upper hand. The Armada was forced to return to Spain in a very sorry state after having suffered the Spanish Empire's biggest defeat at the hands of the English.