I'm sure glad I didn't live back in the days of the Spanish Armada. In the book "The Confident Hope of a Miracle" by Neil Hanson, the events leading up to and surrounding this famous historical event are described in every kind of detail. This is really interesting reading and every chapter leaves me amazed at what went on back in those days.
In those days you had a number of ruthless heroes. For example, Sir Francis Drake was a notorious pirate who attacked many ships. His specialty was harassing Spanish shipping and ports and capturing gold treasures for Queen Elizabeth.
Sir Francis Drake, El Draque "the Dragon"
Protocol back then meant that when your ship was attacked, you had two choices. Either you surrendered immediately and you and your men were taken prisoner, or you fought back. If you fought back and lost, then every person captured would be killed, sometimes in excruciatingly gruesome ways. This was accepted practice, so you can imagine how worried you might be when the battle started.
One common practice was to flay the prisoners alive, and then hang the bodies upside down from the masts. It was better to be killed outright, rather than being merely wounded and later skinned alive. This was a warning to other ships, making them reconsider entering a fight with this person the Spanish referred to as El Draque "the Dragon" who was sent by the devil.
Another interesting fact about the defeat of the Spanish Armada was that the tactics of sea battle were changed drastically. Since ancient days, fighting at sea was done just like on land. The only difference was that the two ships would approach each loaded with soldiers, the goal being to get close enough and grapple together, allowing the attackers to jump on the defending ship and initiate battle there.
What led to the defeat of the Spanish was that the English had faster ships which could maneuver to a safe distance from the enemy and open fire with cannons and other artillery, sinking or immobilizing the enemy.
Borrowed from Wikipedia, Spanish Armada
This was very frustrating to the Spanish and caught them completely off guard. It was completely against all accepted rules of war. The poor Spanish would be cursing and yelling at this unfair way of waging war, as the poor souls sank to the bottom of the English Channel.