Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591) was a British naval commander who is celebrated for fighting heroically against overwhelming odds.

During his lengthy career in the service of the crown, he fought with the army against Turkish forces in Hungary, against Irish insurgents in Munster, and commanded the fleet that brought colonists to Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina.

In 1591, Grenville was second in command to Lord Thomas Howard, who commanded a fleet of 15 vessels. On September 9, the squadron was pursuing Spanish ships laden with gold and treasure off the Azores when 53 Spanish vessels showed up, out for blood – the Spanish Armada had been defeated only three years before. Fifteen ships cut of Grenville’s ship, the Revenge, from the rest of the English vessels. For fifteen hours, Grenville and his men fought off 5,000 men in hand-to-hand combat until he and the survivors of his 190-man crew were captured. Grenville died of his wounds a few days later imprisoned on the Spanish flagship.

He is celebrated in the poem "The Revenge" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and, more recently, in the song "Lord Grenville" by Al Stewart.

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