Portugal under Philip of Spain
French Catholic League
Order of Saint John
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of Ireland
Kingdom of France
Portuguese loyal to Prior of Crato
Commanders and leaders
King Philip II
King Philip III
Marquis of Santa Cruz
Duke of Parma
Martín de Padilla
Count of Fuentes
Duke of Medina Sidonia
Duke of Mayenne
Duke of Braganza
Aodh Mór Ó Néill
Earl of Leicester
Earl of Nottingham
Maurice of Nassau
Henry IV of France
Prior of Crato
Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)
San Juan de Ulúa
Spanish West Indies
1st Puerto Caballos
Trinidad • Orinoco
La Guaira •
Caracas • Coro
1st San Juan
2nd San Juan
2nd Puerto Caballos
Santiago de Cuba
Calais • Gravelines
Corunna • Lisbon
1st Gibraltar Strait
2nd Gibraltar Strait
Gulf of Almería
Bay of Biscay
Cornwall • West Wales
Gulf of Cádiz
Low Countries and Germany
Bergen op Zoom
Rheinberg • 2nd Meurs
Ardenburg • Oostberg • 2nd Sluis
Irish West Coast
Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)
Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) was an intermittent conflict
between the kingdoms of
England that was never formally
declared. The war was punctuated by widely separated battles, and
began with England's military expedition in 1585 to the Netherlands
under the command of the Earl of Leicester in support of the
resistance of the States General to Spanish Habsburg rule.
The English enjoyed some victories at
Cádiz in 1587, and saw the
Spanish Armada retreat in 1588, but then suffered severe defeats of
English Armada in 1589 and the Drake–Hawkins and Essex–Raleigh
expeditions in 1595 and 1597 respectively. Two further Spanish armadas
were sent in 1596 and 1597 but were frustrated in their objectives
mainly because of adverse weather and poor planning.
The war became deadlocked around the turn of the 17th century during
campaigns in the Netherlands,
France and Ireland. It was brought to an
end with the Treaty of London, negotiated in 1604 between
representatives of the new King of Spain, Philip III, and the new King
of England, James I.
Spain agreed to cease their military
interventions in the
Spanish Netherlands and Ireland, respectively,
and the English ended high seas privateering.
Dutch Revolt (1585–1587)
2.2 Spanish Armada
2.3 English Armada
Dutch Revolt (1588–1595)
2.5 Naval War and Privateering
Dutch Revolt (1597–1604)
2.9 End of the war
3 Treaty and aftermath
4 See also
6 Further reading
In the 1560s, Philip II of
Spain was faced with increasing religious
Protestantism gained adherents in his domains in the
Low Countries. As a defender of the Catholic Church, he sought to
suppress the rising Protestant heresy in his territories, which
eventually exploded into open rebellion in 1566. Meanwhile, relations
with the regime of Elizabeth I of
England continued to deteriorate,
following her restoration of royal supremacy over the Church of
England through the
Act of Supremacy in 1559; this had been first
instituted by her father Henry VIII and rescinded by her sister Mary
I. The Act was considered by Catholics as a usurpation of papal
authority. Calls by leading English Protestants to support the
Protestant Dutch rebels against Philip increased tensions further as
did the Catholic-Protestant disturbances in France, which saw both
sides supporting the opposing French factions.
Philip II of Spain
Elizabeth I of England
Complicating matters were commercial disputes. The activities of
English sailors, begun by Sir John Hawkins in 1562, gained the tacit
support of Elizabeth, even though the Spanish government complained
that Hawkins's trade with their colonies in the West Indies
constituted smuggling. In September 1568, a slaving expedition led by
Hawkins and Sir
Francis Drake was surprised by the Spanish, and
several ships were captured or sunk at the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa
near Veracruz in New Spain. This engagement soured Anglo-Spanish
relations and in the following year the English detained several
treasure ships sent by the Spanish to supply their army in the
Netherlands. Drake and Hawkins intensified their privateering as a way
to break the Spanish monopoly on Atlantic trade.
Francis Drake went on
a privateering voyage where he eventually circumnavigated the globe
between 1577 and 1580. Spanish colonial ports were plundered and a
number of ships were captured including the treasure galleon Nuestra
Señora de la Concepción. When news of his exploits reached Europe,
Elizabeth's relations with Philip continued to deteriorate.
Soon after the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580, English support
was provided to Prior of Crato who then fought in his struggle with
Philip II for the Portuguese throne. Philip in return began to support
the Catholic rebellion in
Ireland against Elizabeth's religious
reforms. Both Philip's and Elizabeth's attempts to support opposing
factions were defeated.
In 1584, Philip signed the
Treaty of Joinville with the Catholic
France to stop the rise of
Protestantism there. In the
England had secretly supported the side of the
Dutch Protestant United Provinces, who were fighting for independence
from Spain. In 1584, the Prince of Orange had been assassinated,
leaving a sense of alarm as well as a political vacuum. The following
year was a further blow to the Dutch with the capture of
Spanish forces led by Alexander Farnese, the Duke of Parma. The Dutch
rebels sought help from England, which Elizabeth agreed to as she
feared that a Spanish reconquest there would threaten England. The
Treaty of Nonsuch was signed as a result – Elizabeth agreed to
provide the Dutch with men, horses, and subsidies but she declined
overall sovereignty. In return the Dutch handed over four Cautionary
Towns which were garrisoned by English troops. Philip took this to be
an open declaration of war against his rule in the Netherlands.
The Anglo-Spanish War broke out in 1585, following the seizure of
English merchant ships in Spanish harbors. In response the English
privy council immediately authorised a campaign against the Spanish
fishing industry in
Newfoundland and off the Grand Banks. The
campaign was a huge success, and subsequently led to England's first
sustained activity in the Americas. In August,
England joined the
Eighty Years' War on the side of the Dutch Protestant United
Provinces, who had declared their independence from Spain.
The Queen through
Francis Walsingham ordered Sir
Francis Drake to lead
an expedition to attack the Spanish
New World in a kind of preemptive
strike. Drake sailed in October to the West Indies, and in January
1586 captured and sacked Santo Domingo. The following month they did
the same at Cartagena de Indias and in May sailed North to raid St.
Augustine in Florida. When Drake arrived in
England in July he became
a national hero. In
Spain however, the news was a disaster and this
now further buoyed a Spanish invasion of
England by King Philip.
Dutch Revolt (1585–1587)
Siege of Grave in 1586
Robert Dudley, The Earl of Leicester was sent to the United Provinces
in 1585 with a dignitary party and took the offer of Governor of the
United Provinces. This however was met with fury from Elizabeth who
had expressed no desire for any sovereignty over the Dutch. An English
mercenary army had been present since the beginning of the war and was
then under the command of veteran Sir John Norreys. They combined
forces but were undermanned and under financed, and faced one of the
most powerful armies in Europe led by the famed Alexander Farnese, the
Duke of Parma.
During the siege of Grave the following year Dudley attempted its
relief but the Dutch garrison commander Hadewij van Hemert surrendered
the town to the Spanish. Dudley was furious on hearing of Grave's
sudden loss and had van Hemert executed, which shocked the Dutch.
The English force then had some successes - taking Axel in July and
Doesburg the following month. Dudley’s poor diplomacy with the Dutch
however made matters worse. His political base weakened and so too did
the military situation. Outside
Zutphen an English force was
defeated in which notable poet
Philip Sidney was mortally wounded,
which was a huge blow to English morale.
Zutphen itself and Deventer
were betrayed by catholic turncoats William Stanley and Rowland York
which further damaged Leicester's reputation. Finally
Sluis with a
largely English garrison was besieged and taken by the Duke of Parma
in June 1587 after the Dutch refused to help in the relief. This
resulted in mutual recriminations between Leicester and the
Leicester soon realised how dire his situation was and then asked to
be recalled. He resigned his post as Governor - his tenure was a
military and political failure, and as a result he was financially
ruined. After Leicester's departure, the Dutch elected the Prince
of Orange's son Count
Maurice of Nassau as the
Governor. At the same time Peregrine Bertie took over English forces
in the Netherlands.
Spanish Armada and
Spanish Armada in Ireland
The Invincible Armada, National Maritime Museum, London
On 8 February 1587, the execution of
Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots outraged
Catholics in Europe, and her claim on the English throne passed (by
her own deed of will) to Philip. In retaliation for the execution of
Mary, Philip vowed to invade
England to place a Catholic monarch on
its throne. In April 1587 Philip's preparations suffered a setback
Francis Drake burned 37 Spanish ships in the harbour of Cádiz,
and as a result the invasion of
England had to be postponed for over a
On 29 July, Philip obtained Papal authority to overthrow Elizabeth,
who had been excommunicated by Pope Pius V, and place whomever he
chose on the throne of England. He assembled a fleet of about 130
ships, containing 8,000 soldiers and 18,000 sailors. To finance this
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V had permitted Philip to collect crusade
taxes. Sixtus had promised a further subsidy to the Spanish should
they reach English soil.
On 28 May 1588, the Armada under the command of Duke of Medina Sidonia
set sail for the Netherlands, where it was to pick up additional
troops for the invasion of England. As the armada sailed through the
English channel, the English navy led by Charles Howard, 1st Earl of
Francis Drake fought a battle of attrition with the
Plymouth to Portland and then to the Solent, preventing
them from securing any English harbours. The Spanish were forced
to withdraw to Calais. While the Spanish were at anchor there in a
crescent-shaped defensive formation, the English used fireships to
break the formation and scatter the Spanish ships. In the subsequent
Battle of Gravelines the English navy inflicted a defeat on the Armada
and forced it to sail northward in more dangerous stormy waters on the
long way home. As they sailed around Scotland, the Armada suffered
severe damage and loss of life from stormy weather. As they approached
the West coast of
Ireland more damaging stormy conditions forced ships
ashore while others were wrecked. Disease took a heavy toll as the
fleet finally limped back to port.
Philip's invasion plans had miscarried partly because of unfortunate
weather and his own mismanagement, and partly because of the
opportunistic defensive naval efforts of the English and their Dutch
allies prevailed. The defeat of the Armada provided valuable seafaring
experience for English oceanic mariners. While the English were able
to persist in their privateering against the Spanish and continue
sending troops to assist Philip II's enemies in the Netherlands and
France, these efforts brought few tangible rewards. One of the
most important effects of the event was that the Armada's failure was
seen as a sign that God supported the Protestant Reformation in
England. One of the medals struck to celebrate the English victory
bore the Latin/
Hebrew inscription Flavit יהוה et Dissipati Sunt
Yahweh blew and they were scattered"; traditionally
translated more freely as: "He blew with His winds, and they were
Main article: English Armada
Maria Pita at Coruna
An English counter armada under the command of Sir
Francis Drake and
John Norreys was prepared in 1589 to torch the Spanish Atlantic
navy, which was refitting in Santander, Corunna and
San Sebastián in
northern Spain. It was also intended to capture the incoming Spanish
treasure fleet and expel the Spanish from
Portugal (ruled by Philip
since 1580) in favour of the Prior of Crato. The English fleet
departed from Plymouth on April 13 but was then delayed
for nearly two weeks by bad weather. Drake as a result had to bypass
Santander where the majority of the Spanish fleet were being refitted.
On May 4, the English force eventually arrived at Corunna where the
lower town was captured and plundered, and a number of merchant ships
were seized. Norreys then won a modest victory over a Spanish relief
militia force at Puente del Burgo. When the English pressed the attack
on the citadel, however, they were repulsed. In addition a number of
English ships were captured by Spanish naval forces. With the failure
to capture Corunna the English departed and headed towards Lisbon, but
owing to poor organisation and lack of co-ordination (they had very
few siege guns) the invading force also failed to take Lisbon. The
expected uprising by the Portuguese loyal to Crato never materialised.
With Portuguese and Spanish reinforcements arriving the English
retreated and headed North where Drake sacked and burned Vigo.
Sickness then struck the expedition, and finally a portion of the
fleet led by Drake headed towards the Azores, which was then scattered
in a storm. Drake then took the best part of the fleet and plundered
Porto Santo in
Madeira before they limped back to Plymouth.
English Armada was arguably misconceived and ended in failure
overall. In the end, Elizabeth sustained a severe loss to her
Dutch Revolt (1588–1595)
Soon after the defeat of the Armada, the Duke of Parma's force stood
down from the invasion. In the autumn Parma moved his force North
Bergen op Zoom
Bergen op Zoom and then attempted to besiege the English-held
town with a substantial force. The English in a ruse however managed
to repel the Spanish and forced Parma's retreat with heavy losses
which boosted both Dutch and English morale. The following year
Bertie under orders from the Queen left for
France with a force to
help the Protestants in their fight against the Catholic League. Sir
Francis Vere assumed command of English forces thereafter - a position
he retained during fifteen campaigns, with almost unbroken
Sir Francis Vere, commander of Elizabeth's forces in the Low Countries
In 1590 an Anglo-Dutch force under Maurice and Vere respectively
launched a campaign with the aim of taking Breda. In a remarkable feat
a small assault force hid in a peat barge before a successful surprise
assault that captured the city. With Spanish forces in France
supporting the Catholic League as well as in the Low Countries,
Maurice was able to take advantage, and thus started the gradual
recapture of the Netherlands. This was known by the Dutch as the 'Ten
glory years'. Soon after
Breda the Anglo-Dutch retook
Deventer which restored English prestige after their earlier
betrayals. After defeating the Spanish under the Duke of Parma at
Knodsenberg in 1591 a new confidence in the army took shape. English
troops by this time composed nearly half of the Dutch army. The
reconquest continued with Hulst, Nijmegen, Geertruidenberg, Steenwijk
and Coevorden all being taken within the next two years. In 1593 a
Spanish attempt led by
Francisco Verdugo to recapture Coevorden ended
in failure when the Anglo-Dutch under Maurice and Vere relieved the
place during the Spring of 1594. Finally the capture of Groningen in
the summer of 1594 resulted in the Spanish army being forced out of
the Northern provinces which led to the complete restoration of the
After these successes Elizabeth could view the high confidence in the
army and renewed the treaty with the States in 1595. English troops
having been given high praise by the Dutch were kept at around 4,000
men. They were to be paid for by the States and the Queen would also
be repaid on the Crowns expenses in instalments until a conclusion of
peace was made.
In 1595, Maurice's campaign was resumed to retake the cities of the
Twente region from the Spanish. This was delayed after
besieged in March but Maurice was unable to prevent its fall. When
Maurice did go on the offensive an attempt to take Grol in July ended
in failure when a Spanish force under a 90 year old veteran Cristóbal
de Mondragón relieved the city. Maurice then tried to make an attempt
on the city of
Rheinberg in September but Mondragon defeated this move
at the Battle of the Lippe. Maurice was then forced to cancel further
planned offensives as the bulk of his English and Scots troops were
withdrawn to take part in the attack on Cadiz. The Spanish under the
new commander Archduke of Austria took advantage of this lull and
recaptured Hulst the following year which led to a prolonged stalemate
in the campaign and delayed the reconquest.
Naval War and Privateering
The Last fight of the Revenge off Flores in the
In this period of respite, the Spanish were able to refit and retool
their navy, partly along English lines. The pride of the fleet were
named The Twelve Apostles – twelve massive new galleons – and the
navy proved itself to be far more effective than it had been before
1588. A sophisticated convoy system and improved intelligence networks
frustrated English naval attempts on the
Spanish treasure fleet
Spanish treasure fleet during
the 1590s. This was best demonstrated by the repulse of the squadron
that was led by Effingham in 1591 near the Azores, who had intended to
ambush the treasure fleet. It was in this battle that the Spanish
captured the English flagship, the Revenge, after a stubborn
resistance by its captain, Sir Richard Grenville. Throughout the
1590s, enormous convoy escorts enabled the Spanish to ship three times
as much silver as in the previous decade.
English merchant privateers or corsairs known as Elizabeth's Sea dogs
however enjoyed more qualified success. In the three years after
the Spanish armada more than 300 prizes were taken from the Spanish
with a declared total value of well over £400,000. English
courtiers provided money for their own expeditions as well as others,
and even Elizabeth herself would make investments. The Earl of
Cumberland made a number of expeditions and a few did yield profit -
his first being the
Azores Voyage in 1589. Others failed however due
to bad weather and his 1591 voyage ended in defeat with Spanish
galleys off Berlengas. Cumberland with Sir Walter Raleigh and Martin
Frobisher combined financial strength and force that led to the most
successful English naval expedition of the war. Off Flores island in
1592 in a naval battle the English fleet captured a large rich
Portuguese carrack, the
Madre de Deus
Madre de Deus as well as having outwitted a
Spanish fleet led by Alonso de Bazán. The expedition's reward
equalled nearly half the size of the Kingdom of England's royal annual
revenue and yielded Elizabeth a 20-fold return on her investment.
These riches gave the English an excited enthusiasm to engage in this
opulent commerce. Raleigh himself in 1595 went on an expedition to
Orinoco river in an attempt to find the mythical city of
El Dorado in the process the English plundered the Spanish settlement
of Trinidad. Raleigh however exaggerated the wealth there on his
return to England. Supporting Raleigh with his expedition was another
led by Amyas Preston and
George Somers known as the Preston Somers
expedition to South America notable for a daring overland assault that
saw the capture of Caracas.
Many of the expeditions were financed by famed London merchants, the
most notable of these being John Watts. An expedition Watts financed
Portuguese Brazil led by
James Lancaster saw the capture and
Olinda - which was highly profitable for
both. In response to English privateering against their
merchantmen, the Spanish monarchy struck back with the Dunkirkers
devastating English shipping and fishing in the largely undefended
seas around England.
By far the most successful English privateer was Christopher Newport
who was backed financially by Watts. Newport set out in 1590 to
raid the Spanish
West Indies and in the ensuing fight saw the defeat
of an armed Spanish convoy but Newport lost his right arm in the
process. Despite this Newport continued the ventures - the blockade of
Western Cuba in 1591 was the most successful English privateering
venture made during the war. Both Drake and Hawkins died of
disease on the later 1595–96 expedition against Puerto Rico, Panama,
and other targets in the Spanish Main, a severe setback in which the
English suffered heavy losses in soldiers and ships despite a number
of minor military victories.
In August 1595, a Spanish force on patrol from Brittany, led by Carlos
de Amésquita, landed at and raided Cornwall, burning
several nearby villages.
The battle of Cadiz Bay in 1596
During the summer of 1596, an Anglo-Dutch expedition under Elizabeth's
young favourite, the Earl of Essex, sacked Cádiz, causing significant
loss to the Spanish fleet, leaving the city in ruins and delaying a
projected descent on England. The allies were unable to capture the
treasure, as the Spanish commander had time to torch the treasure
ships in port, sending the treasure to the bottom of the harbour, from
where it was later recovered. Despite its failure to capture the
treasure fleet, the sack of
Cádiz was celebrated as a national
triumph comparable to the victory over the Spanish Armada, and for a
time Essex's prestige rivalled Elizabeth's own.
The Crown instead of controlling and taxing its subjects, competed
with them for private profit, a race it failed to win, as the great
naval expeditions were on the whole unprofitable. The last of the
great English naval expeditions took place in 1597, led by the Earl of
Essex known as the Islands Voyage. The objective was to destroy the
Spanish fleet and intercept a treasure fleet in the Azores. Neither
was achieved and the expedition ended in failure, and Essex on his
return was scolded by the Queen for not protecting the English coast.
In the final years of the war, English privateering continued despite
the strengthening of Spanish navy convoys – Cumberland's last
expedition in 1598 to the Caribbean led to the capture of San Juan,
and had succeeded where Drake had failed. Newport struck at Tobasco in
1599 while William Parker successfully raided Portobello in 1601.
Finally in 1603 Christopher Cleeve struck at Santiago de Cuba and in
the last raid of the war Newport plundered Puerto Caballos.
By the end of the war English privateering had devastated the Spanish
private merchant marine. The most famous pirates lauded by English
literature and propaganda tended to attack fishing vessels or boats
with small value for the Spanish crown. Spanish prizes though were
taken at an attritional rate; nearly 1,000 were captured by the wars
end, and there was on average a declared value of approximately
£100,000-£200,000 for every year of the war. In addition for
every Spanish prize brought back, another was either burned or
scuttled, and the presence of so many English corsairs even deterred
Spanish merchantman from putting to sea. This all later resulted
in Spanish and Portuguese commerce being carried on Dutch and English
ships which in itself created competition. Nevertheless throughout
the war Spain’s important treasure fleets had been kept safe by
their convoy system.
Dutch Revolt (1597–1604)
By 1597, Spanish bankruptcy and the war in
France gave the Anglo-Dutch
an advantage. At the Battle of Turnout a Spanish force was surprised
and routed - Vere and Sir
Robert Sydney distinguished themselves
particularly. With the Spanish distracted by the siege of Amiens in
France Maurice launched an offensive in the summer. This time both
Rhienberg and Greonlo were finally taken. This was followed by the
capture of Bredevoort, Enschede, Ootsmarsum, Oldenzaal and finally
Lingen by the end of the year. The offensive success meant that most
of the Republic had been recaptured and a significant barrier had been
created along the Rhine river.
Battle of Nieuwpoort
Battle of Nieuwpoort in 1600
In 1598, the Spanish under Francisco Mendoza retook
Meurs in a campaign known as the Spanish winter of 1598-99. Mendoza
then attempted to take
Bommelerwaard island but the Dutch and English
under Maurice thwarted the attempt and defeated him at Zaltbommel.
Mendoza retreated from the area and the defeat resulted in chaos in
the Spanish army - mutinies took place and many deserted. The
following year the Dutch senate led by
Johan van Oldenbarneveldt
Johan van Oldenbarneveldt saw
the chaos in the Spanish army and decided the time was ripe for a
focal point of the war to be concentrated in Catholic Flanders.
Despite a bitter dispute between Maurice and van Oldenbarneveldt, the
Dutch and a sizeable contingent of the English Army under Francis Vere
reluctantly agreed. They used
Ostend (still in Dutch hands) as a base
to invade Flanders. Their aim was to conquer the privateer stronghold
city of Dunkirk. In 1600 they advanced toward
Dunkirk and in a pitched
battle the Anglo-Dutch inflicted a rare defeat on the
Spanish army at the
Battle of Nieuwpoort
Battle of Nieuwpoort in which the English played a
Dunkirk was never attempted however as disputes in the
Dutch command meant that taking Spanish occupied cities in the rest of
the Republic took priority. Maurice's force thus withdrew leaving Vere
Ostend in the face of an imminent Spanish siege.
With the siege of
Ostend under way, Maurice then went on the offensive
on the Rhine frontier in the summer of 1600.
Rheinberg and Meurs were
thus retaken from the Spanish yet again, although an attempt on
s'Hertogenbosch failed during the winter months. At
Ostend in January
1602 after being reinforced, Vere faced a huge Spanish assault
organised by the Archduke and in bitter fighting this was repelled
with heavy losses. Vere left the city soon after and joined Maurice in
the field, while Albert was replaced Ambrogio Spinola. The siege there
dragged on for another two years as the Spanish attempted to take
Ostend's strongpoints in a costly war of attrition. Around the same
time Maurice continued – his campaign Grave was retaken but Vere was
severely wounded during the siege. An attempt by the Dutch and English
Ostend took place in mid 1604 but the inland of port of
Sluis was besieged and captured instead. Soon after the Ostend
garrison finally surrendered, after a siege of nearly four years and
costing thousands of lives – for the Spanish it was a pyrrhic
Siege of Amiens in 1597
Normandy added a new front in the war and the threat of another
invasion attempt across the channel. In 1590, the Spanish landed a
considerable force in
Brittany to assist the French Catholic League,
expelling the English and
Huguenot forces from much of the area. Henry
IV's conversion to Catholicism in 1593 won him widespread French
support for his claim to the throne, particularly in Paris (where he
was crowned the following year), a city that he had unsuccessfully
besieged in 1590. However, in 1594 Anglo-French forces were able to
end Spanish hopes of using the large port of Brest as a launching
point for an invasion of
England by capturing Fort Crozon.
The French civil war turned increasingly against the hardliners of the
French Catholic League. With the signing of the Triple Alliance in
1596 between France,
England and the Dutch, Elizabeth sent a further
2,000 troops to
France after the Spanish took Calais. In September
1597 Anglo-French forces under Henry retook Amiens, just six months
after the Spanish took the city, bringing to a halt a string of
Spanish victories. The first tentative talks on peace had already
begun before the battle. The League hardliners started to lose ground
and popular support throughout
France to a resurgent Henry. In
addition Spanish finances were at breaking point because of fighting
wars in France, the Netherlands and against England. Therefore, a
deeply ill Philip decided to end his support for the League and to
finally recognize the legitimacy of Henry's accession to the French
throne. Without Spanish support the last League hardliners were
quickly defeated. In May 1598, the two kings signed the Peace of
Vervins ending the last of the religious civil wars and the Spanish
intervention with it.
In 1594, the Nine Years' War in
Ireland had begun, when
Hugh O'Neill and
Red Hugh O'Donnell
Red Hugh O'Donnell rose up against English rule with
fitful Spanish support, mirroring the English support of the Dutch
rebellion. While English forces were containing the rebels in Ireland
at great cost in men, general suffering and finance, the Spanish
attempted two further armadas, in 1596 and 1597: the first was
shattered in a storm off northern Spain, and the second was frustrated
by adverse weather as it approached the English coast. King Philip II
died in 1598, and his successor Philip III continued the war but was
At the end of 1601, a final armada was sent north, this time a limited
expedition intended to land troops in southern
Ireland to assist the
rebels. The Spanish entered the town of Kinsale with 3,000 troops and
were immediately besieged by the English. In time, their Irish allies
arrived to surround the besieging force but the lack of communication
with the rebels led to an English victory at the Battle of Kinsale.
Rather than attempt to hold Kinsale as a base to harry English
shipping, the Spanish accepted terms of surrender and returned home,
while the Irish rebels hung on, surrendering in 1603, just after
The new king of England, James I, was the Protestant son and successor
to the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, whose execution had been a
proximate cause of the war. James regarded himself as the peacemaker
of Europe, and the ultimate aim of his idealistic foreign policy was
the reunion of Christendom. Therefore, when James came to the
English throne, his first order of business was to negotiate a peace
with Philip III of Spain.
End of the war
With the end of the war in
France the new King of
Spain Philip III
sought peace with England. By 1598 the war had become long and costly
England and Dutch republic too were war weary and both
sides felt the need for peace. At the peace of Boulogne in 1600
however Spanish demands were adamantly rejected by the English and
Dutch. Nevertheless, diplomatic routes were open between the Archduke
of Austria and his wife Infanta Isabella (Philip's sister) who
differed in their policies to Philip's. Philip wanted to preserve the
hegemony of the Spanish empire, whilst the Archduke and Isabella
sought peace and friendly relations.
Soon after victory in
Ireland the following year the English navy
Richard Leveson conducted a blockade of Spain; the first of its
Portugal they sailed into
Sesimbra bay where a fleet of
eight Spanish galleys under
Federico Spinola (brother of Ambrogio) and
Álvaro de Bazán were present. Spinola had already established
his base at
Sluis in Flanders, and was gathering more with an intent
on a potential strike against England. In June 1602 Leveson defeated
the Spanish which resulted in two galleys sunk and the capture of a
rich Portuguese carrack. Months later in the English channel Spinola's
galley fleet gathered more galleys and sailed through the English
channel once more but was defeated again by an Anglo-Dutch naval
squadron off the Dover straits. The result of this action forced the
Spanish to cease further naval operations against
England for the
remainder of the war.
Treaty and aftermath
Further information: Treaty of London (1604)
Somerset House Conference
Somerset House Conference between diplomats of
England (right) and
Spain (left) (painting)
The treaty restored the status quo ante bellum, and the terms of the
treaty were favourable both to
Spain and England. For
treaty secured her position as a leading power in the world.
Spain's upgrading of the convoy system had allowed it to defend its
treasure fleets and retain its
New World colonies. English support for
the Dutch rebellion against the Spanish king, the original cause of
the war, had ended. The Spanish would then concentrate their efforts
on the Dutch in order to bring them to their knees with a knockout
blow. A complete abandonment of the Dutch cause however was
not promised in the treaty. The English held cautionary towns in
Holland on the other hand were not surrendered despite Spanish
demands. The sieges of
Sluis were allowed to continue
until the end of those respective campaigns. The Dutch by 1607 had
in fact prevailed - the Spanish did not deliver their knock out blow
they had hoped for; the
Twelve Year Truce
Twelve Year Truce formally recognized the
independence of the Republic.
England the treaty made sure the Protestant reformation there had
been protected, and James and his ministers refused the Spanish demand
for Catholic toleration in England. After the defeat at Kinsale in
Treaty of Mellifont was concluded the following year between
James I and the Irish rebels. In the subsequent London treaty Spain
pledged not to support the rebels. English public opinion however
showed that the peace treaty was highly unpopular and many considered
it a "humiliating peace". Many felt that the King had
abandoned the Netherlands, their old ally, in order to appease the
Spanish Crown and relations with James's subjects were strained in the
The agreement was well received in Spain. Big public
celebrations were held at Valladolid, the Spanish capital,
where the treaty was ratified in June 1605, in the presence of a large
English ambassadorial delegation led by Lord Admiral Charles
Howard. Some members of the Catholic clergy however questioned
Philip III's arrangements with a "heretical power".
The provisions of the treaty authorised merchants and warships of both
nations to operate from each other's respective ports. English trade
Spanish Netherlands (notably the city of Antwerp) and the
Iberian peninsula was resumed. Spanish warships and privateers
were able to use English ports as naval bases to attack Dutch
shipping or to ferry troops to Flanders.
The war had also diverted Tudor colonial efforts, but the English
who had invested in privateering expeditions during the war garnered
enormous windfall profits leaving them well placed to finance new
ventures. As a result the
London Company were able to establish a
Virginia in 1607. The establishment of the East
India Company in 1600, was significant for the growth of
later Great Britain) as a colonial power. A factory was
established at Banten, Java, in 1603 while the Company had
successfully and profitably breached the Spanish and Portuguese
monopoly. While the incipient illegal trade with the Spanish
colonies was brought to an end, there was deadlock over English
demands for the right to trade in the East and West Indies, which
Spain adamantly opposed. Eventually the complications resulted in the
treaty avoiding any mention of the matter.
Spain there was hope that
England would eventually secure
tolerance for Catholics but the
Gunpowder Plot in 1605 however
destroyed any possibility of this. As a result it put to rest
Protestant fears that a peace with
Spain would ultimately mean an
invasion by Jesuits and Catholic sympathisers as the Elizabethan
Recusancy laws were rigidly enforced by parliament.
Spain remained at peace until 1625.
French Wars of Religion
European wars of religion
Anglo-Spanish War (1625–30)
^ a b c Hiram Morgan, ‘Teaching the Armada: An Introduction to the
Anglo-Spanish War, 1585-1604’, History Ireland, Vol. 14, No. 5
(Sep.–Oct., 2006), p. 43.
^ Rowse, A. L (1955). The Expansion of Elizabethan England. palgrave
macmillan. p. 241. ISBN 1403908133.
^ Tracey pp.157-58
^ Bicheno p 180
^ Karen Ordahl Kupperman, The Jamestown Project
^ Konstam p.76-77
^ Hammer 2003 pp. 125–127
^ Wilson 1981 pp. 282–284
^ t' Hart p.21-22
^ Wilson 1981 pp. 291–294
^ Wilson 1981 pp. 294–295
^ Pollen, John Hungerford (1907). "Spanish Armada". In
Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 1. New York: Robert
Appleton Company. "
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V agreed to renew the
excommunication of the Queen, and to grant a large subsidy to the
Armada, but, knowing the slowness of Spain, would give nothing till
the expedition should actually land in England. In this way he was
saved his million crowns, and spared the reproach of having taken
futile proceedings against the heretic queen."
^ Hanson p. 379
^ Parker & Martin p. 215
^ Richard Holmes 2001, p. 858: "The 1588 campaign was a major English
propaganda victory, but in strategic terms it was essentially
^ R. B. Wernham, 'Queen Elizabeth and the
Portugal Expedition of 1589:
Part II', English Historical Review, 66/259 (April 1951), pp. 204 - 14
^ a b
Charles Maurice Davies (1851). The History of Holland and the
Dutch nation: from the beginning of the tenth century to the end of
the eighteenth. G. Willis. pp. 225–28.
^ a b Knight, Charles Raleigh: Historical records of The Buffs, East
Kent Regiment (3rd Foot) formerly designated the Holland Regiment and
Prince George of Denmark's Regiment. Vol I. London, Gale & Polden,
1905, pp. 36-40
^ Hadfield & Hammond p.49
^ Andrews p. 124-25
^ a b Bicheno p. 320
^ Andrews p 73
^ McCulloch, John Ramsay (1833). A Treatise on the Principles,
Practice, & History of Commerce. Baldwin and Cradock.
^ Andrews p.77
^ Bicheno pp. 316-18
^ Andrews pp 167
^ David Starkey, Elizabeth (Channel 4, 1999), Episode 4, 'Gloriana'.
^ Andrews p 30
^ Andrews pp. 177
^ Bradley p 131
^ Andrews p. 226
^ Chamorro, Germán Vázquez (2004). Mujeres piratas. Madrid: Algaba.
^ a b Hornsby & Hermann p. 17
^ Bradley pp.109-10
^ Motley, John Lothrop. History of the United Netherlands: from the
William the Silent
William the Silent to the Twelve Years' Truce--1609. 3.
^ Borman pp 224–25
^ Knight p 49
^ Edmundson p 102-03
^ Watson & Thomson, Robert & William (1792). The History of
the Reign of Philip III. King of
Spain Authors. p. 154.
^ Ireland, William Henry (1824). Memoirs of Henry the Great, and of
the Court of
France During His Reign: Vol 2. Harding, Triphook &
Lepard. p. 266.
^ W. B. Patterson, King James VI and I and the Reunion of Christendom
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
^ MacCaffrey pp. 226-30
^ McCoog pp. 222-23
^ Duerloo pp. 137-38
^ Wernham pg 400-01
^ a b Allen pp. 142-43
^ The Pirates' Pact: The Secret Alliances Between History's Most
Notorious Buccaneers and Colonial America. McGraw-Hill Professional,
2008, p29. ISBN 0-07-147476-5
^ Channing, Edward: A history of the United States. Octagon Books,
1977, v. 1, p158. ISBN 0-374-91414-1
^ a b c d e Hammer, Paul E. J (2003). Elizabeth's Wars: War,
Government and Society in Tudor England, 1544-1604. Palgrave
Macmillan. pp. 234–35. ISBN 9781137173386.
^ a b Fritze, Ronald H; Robison, William B (1996). Historical
Dictionary of Stuart England, 1603-1689. Greenwood Publishing Group.
p. 310. ISBN 9780313283918.
^ Rowse, A. L (1973). The Expansion of Elizabethan England. Cardinal
Books. p. 413. ISBN 978-0351180644.
^ Israel (1995), pp. 399–405
^ Phelan, John Leddy (1967). The Kingdom of Quito in the Seventeenth
Century: Bureaucratic Politics in the Spanish Empire. University of
Wisconsin Press. p. 88.
^ Smout, T. C. (2005). Anglo-Scottish Relations from 1603 to 1900.
p. 17. ISBN 0197263305.
^ Lothrop Motley, John (1867). History of the United Netherlands: From
the Death of
William the Silent
William the Silent to the Twelve Year's Truce--1609,
Volume 4. p. 223.
^ Moseley, C. W. R. D. (2007). English Renaissance Drama: A Very Brief
Introduction to Theatre and Theatres in Shakespeare's Time.
Humanities. p. 90. ISBN 1847601839.
^ Smout, T. C. (2005). Anglo-Scottish Relations from 1603 to 1900.
pp. 17–18. ISBN 0197263305.
^ a b Pericot Garcia, Luis (1970). La Casa de Austria (siglos XVI y
XVII) por La Ullon Cisneros y E. Camps Cazeria (in Spanish). Instituto
Gallach de Librería y Ediciones. p. 179.
^ Feros, Antonio (2002). El Duque de Lerma: realeza y privanza en la
España de Felipe III (in Spanish). Marcial Pons Historia.
p. 305. ISBN 8495379392.
^ Otero Novas, José Manuel (2001). Fundamentalismos enmascarados (in
Spanish). Editorial Ariel. p. 153. ISBN 8434412241.
^ Herrero García, Miguel (1966). Biblioteca románica hispánica:
Estudios y ensayos (in Spanish). Gredos. p. 474.
^ Ortiz, Antonio Domínguez (1971). The Golden Age of Spain, 1516-1659
Volume 1 of The History of Spain. Basic Books. p. 87.
^ Sanz Camañes, Porfirio (2002). Diplomacia hispano-inglesa en el
siglo XVII: razón de estado y relaciones de poder durante la Guerra
de los Treinta Años, 1618-1648 (in Spanish). Universidad de
Castilla-La Mancha. p. 108. ISBN 8484271552.
^ Rodríguez Hernández, Antonio José (2015). Breve historia de los
Tercios de Flandes (in Spanish). Ediciones Nowtilus. p. 144.
^ Billings p. 3
^ Encyclopedia Britannica. I. Encyclopedia Britannica Company. 1973.
^ Hart, Jonathan (2008). Empires and Colonies Empires and Colonies.
Polity. pp. 68–69. ISBN 9780745626130.
^ Chaudhuri, K. N (1965). The English East India Company: The Study of
an Early Joint-stock Company 1600-1640. Taylor & Francis.
p. 3. ISBN 9780415190763.
^ Wernham pp. 333-34
^ Allen p 155
^ Reed, Richard Burton (1970). Sir Robert Cecil and the Diplomacy of
the Anglo-Spanish Peace, 1603-1604. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Allen, Paul C (2000). Philip III and the Pax Hispanica, 1598-1621: The
Failure of Grand Strategy. Yale University Press.
Andrews, Kenneth R (1964). Elizabethan Privateering: English
Privateering During the Spanish War, 1585-1603. Cambridge University
Press, First Edition. ISBN 978-0521040327.
Bradley, Peter T (2010). British Maritime Enterprise in the New World:
From the Late Fifteenth to the Mid-eighteenth Century. Edwin Mellen
Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0773478664.
Bormen, Tracey (1997). Sir
Francis Vere in the Netherlands, 1589-1603:
A Re-evaluation of His Career as Sergeant Major General of Elizabeth
I's Troops. University of Hull.
Charles Beem, The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I (2011) excerpt and
Bicheno, Hugh (2012). Elizabeth's Sea Dogs: How England's Mariners
Became the Scourge of the Seas. Conway.
Billings, Warren M, ed. (1975). The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth
Century: A Documentary History of Virginia, 1606-1689. UNC Press
Books. ISBN 9780807812372.
Duerloo, Luc (2012). Dynasty and Piety: Archduke Albert (1598-1621)
and Habsburg Political Culture in an Age of Religious Wars. Ashgate
Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409443759.
Peter Earle The Last Fight of the Revenge (London, 2004)
Edmundson, George (2013). History of Holland. Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 9781107660892.
Winston Graham The Spanish Armadas (reprint 2001)
Hadfield, Andrew; Hammond, Paul, eds. (2014). Shakespeare And
Renaissance Europe Arden Critical Companions. A&C Black.
Hammer, Paul E. J (2003). Elizabeth's Wars: War, Government and
Society in Tudor England, 1544-1604. Palgrave Macmillan.
Hanson, Neil (2011). The Confident Hope Of A Miracle: The True History
Of The Spanish Armada. Random House. ISBN 9781446423226.
Hornsby, Stephen; Hermann, Michael (2005). British Atlantic, American
Frontier: Spaces of Power in Early Modern British America. UPNE.
Jonathan I. Israel. Conflicts of Empires: Spain, the Low Countries,
and the Struggle for World Supremacy, 1585-1713 (1997) 420pp
Israel, Jonathan (1995). The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and
Fall 1477–1806. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Konstam, Angus (2000). Elizabethan
Sea Dogs 1560–1605 (Elite).
Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84176-015-5.
MacCaffrey, Wallace T (1994). Elizabeth I: War and Politics,
1588-1603. Princeton Paperbacks Princeton University Press.
McCoog, Thomas M (2012). The Society of Jesus in Ireland, Scotland,
and England, 1589-1597: Building the Faith of Saint Peter Upon the
King of Spain's Monarchy. Ashgate & Institutum Historicum
Societatis Iesu. ISBN 978-1-4094-3772-7.
Parker, Geoffrey; Martin, Colin (1999). The Spanish Armada: Revised
Edition. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781901341140.
't Hart, Marjolein (2014). The Dutch Wars of Independence: Warfare and
Commerce in the Netherlands 1570-1680. Abingdon: Routledge.
Tracy, James D (2006). Europe's Reformations, 1450–1650: Doctrine,
Politics, and Community Critical Issues in World and International
History. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Wernham, R.B. (1994). The Return of the Armadas: The Last Years of the
Elizabethan Wars Against
Spain 1595–1603. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Wilson, Derek (1981). Sweet Robin: A Biography of Robert Dudley Earl
of Leicester 1533–1588. Hamish Hamilton.