Conflicting Words

Conflicting Words: The Peace Treaty of Münster (1648) and the Political Culture of the Dutch Republic and the Spanish Monarchy

Laura Manzano Baena
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 284
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    Conflicting Words
    Book Description:

    The Peace of Münster, signed between the Catholic Monarchy and the United Provinces in 1648, went against the political culture of both polities. The fact that the Spanish Monarchy definitively accepted the independence of its former subjects clearly negated the policy put forward by the Monarchy during the ‘eighty' years that the war lasted and to the Monarchy's declared main goals. For the United Provinces, signing a peace with the archenemy without having brought liberty and religious freedom to ten of the seventeen provinces that formed part of the ancient Burgundian circle was also considered by important groups in the ‘rebel' provinces as a defection. Portraying the political culture of both the Catholic Monarchy and the United Provinces, this work analyses the views held in both territories concerning the points which were discussed in pamphlets and treatises published during the peace negotiations. It also traces the origin of the arguments presented, showing how they were transformed during the period under study, and discusses their influence, or presence, in the diplomatic negotiations among the ambassadors of the United Provinces and the Catholic Monarchy in the German town of Münster. These discussions are inserted in the wider framework of a Christian realm that had to reassess its own values as a consequence of the confessionalisation process and the Thirty Years' War, which affected not only the Empire but, in one way or another, all Central and Western Europe.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-092-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 11-32)

    On 30 January 1648 the representatives of the United Provinces of the Low Countries and of Philip iv, the Spanish king, signed a peace treaty, called the Peace of Münster, in the Krameramthaus in Münster. It was later ratified in the same city on 15 May; a moment immortalized by the Dutch painter Gerard ter Borch in hisThe swearing of the Oath of Ratification of the Treaty of Münster, 15 May 1648(National Gallery, London).

    The United Provinces thus obtained the acknowledgement of their sovereignty and the independence from the Catholic Monarchy of seven of the seventeen provinces which...

  5. Chapter 1 Rebels
    (pp. 33-66)

    Rebellion and resistance were important dimensions of medieval and early modern political life. Open opposition to lawful authority was generally considered to be the last resort, even during the first moments of the Reformation. Most authors of political works aligned themselves with Luther’s respect for political authority, rejecting the interpretations that nourished the most radical strands of the Reformation. The words of St. Paul in Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to higher powers: for there is no power but from God: and those that are, are ordained of God” were often quoted to emphasize the duty of the...

  6. Chapter 2 Tyrants
    (pp. 67-102)

    Rebellion is a reactive notion, because it implies the existence of something against which the rebels are acting. Early modern rebels resorted to the figure of the tyrant in order to vindicate their deeds, a consequence of Aquinas’ distinction between sedition and rebellion against a tyrannical lord who would just pursue his own advantage to the detriment of the community.¹ Well-established rulers also depicted their foes as tyrants when justifying the war effort against them. Describing someone as a tyrant allowed for a clearer definition by opposition of the characteristics of a good ruler, and since classical antiquity the image...

  7. Chapter 3 Authority
    (pp. 103-162)

    Analysis of the concepts of rebellion and tyranny indicates some of the clashes between ‘Dutch’ and ‘Spanish’ political cultures. These clashes became more obvious during the negotiations at Münster, especially when they reached the more contentious issues: the extent of the sovereignty to be granted to the United Provinces and the situation of the Catholics and Catholic Church properties in the Generality Lands, the territories which Dutch armies had conquered during the 1630s and 1640s in Brabant and Limburg. These clashes were partly preconditions for and partly consequences of one of the more comprehensive differences between the two political systems...

  8. Chapter 4 Negotiating sovereignty
    (pp. 163-196)

    The Oranges were eager to accept an agreement under which they acknowledged both the Spanish king’s overlordship and a greater degree of freedom of worship for Catholics in the territories under their direct control. The provincial assemblies, and consequently the States General, had categorically rejected any demands made by the Spanish Monarchy and its representatives in that respect since 1609. The ensuing clash was one of the main causes preventing the making of an agreement before 1648. By the start of the Münster negotiations the Catholic king and his ministers were — albeit reluctantly — ready to recognize the freedom of the...

  9. Chapter 5 Negotiating religious coexistence and toleration
    (pp. 197-234)

    The inextricable link connecting the exercise of politics and religion during the Early Modern period was constantly in evidence in the previous chapters, as were the tensions between an all-encompassing idea of Christendom — opposed to heathens and infidels — and the allegiances and conflicts resulting from the confessionalization process. Hence the emphasis laid on the divisions caused by ‘heretics’ in the desired Christian unity. In the Spanish Monarchy, as in France during the Wars of Religion, those of a different confession publicly abhorred any contact with the ‘other,’ considered sub-human, idolaters or blasphemers who deserved the severest punishment. In the Holy...

  10. Chapter 6 An invalid conclusion or a peace not meant to last (but which did)
    (pp. 235-248)

    Finally, the peace was signed. The baleful prophesy of a French writer ten years earlier which opens this book had come true. The road to this final settlement was long and difficult, but by 1648 the journey seemed to have been accomplished. After surmounting the problems posed by the Spanish Monarchy’s political culture, Dutch rebels were admitted to the negotiating table and placed under the European spotlight. And this in spite of their rejection of the authority of their two natural lords, the heavenly and the temporal, as the Spanish government saw it. With their inclusion in the preliminaries for...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-278)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 279-282)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-284)