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Philip III and the Pax Hispanica, 1598-1621

Philip III and the Pax Hispanica, 1598-1621: The Failure of Grand Strategy

Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Philip III and the Pax Hispanica, 1598-1621
    Book Description:

    Impoverished and exhausted after fifty years of incessant warfare, the great Spanish Empire at the turn of the sixteenth century negotiated treaties with its three most powerful enemies: England, France, and the Netherlands. This intriguing book examines the strategies that led King Philip III to extend the laurel branch to his foes. Paul Allen argues that, contrary to widespread belief, the king's gestures of peace were in fact part of a grand strategy to enable Spain to regain military and economic strength while its opponents were falsely lulled away from their military pursuits. From the outset, Allen contends, Philip and his advisers intended the Pax Hispanica to continue only until Spain was able to resume its battles-and defeat its enemies.Drawing on primary sources from the four countries involved, the book begins with a discussion of how Spanish foreign policy was formulated and implemented to achieve political and religious aims. The author investigates the development of Philip's "peace" strategy, the Twelve Years' Truce, and the decision to end the truce and engage in war with the Dutch, and then with the English and French. Renewed warfare was no failure of peace policy, Allen shows, but a conscious decision to pursue a consistent strategy. Nevertheless the negotiation for peace did represent a new diplomatic method with significant implications for both the future of the Spanish Empire and the practices of European diplomacy.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14293-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Notes on Terminology, Dates, and Currency
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction: The Making of Strategy at the Court of Philip III
    (pp. 1-11)

    To begin to understand the adjustments to Spanish strategy begun by Philip III and his advisers, we must know a little about how his policies related to those of his predecessors and how the changes the new monarch introduced affected decisions made by the new regime.

    As Geoffrey Parker has recently shown, the Spanish Habsburgs, and in particular Philip II, did indeed have the elements of a grand strategy. Initially these consisted of an unwillingness to surrender any territory previously acquired, the priority of the Iberian peninsula’s security over any other problem, a determination to regain control of the Mediterranean...

  7. CHAPTER 1 The Failure of the Habsburgs’ “Bid for Mastery”
    (pp. 12-29)

    The death of Philip II in September 1598, coming so soon after the signing of the Treaty of Vervins with France in May of the same year, jeopardized much of the political work of the Spanish king’s last years. His aim during those years had been to salvage what he could from the wars against France, England, and the Netherlands and leave affairs so that his son “could give attention to the many necessities within the broken and spent kingdoms which he was leaving to him.”¹ The burdens produced by this three-front conflict had caused the final “bankruptcy” of his...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Setbacks
    (pp. 30-54)

    Why, if the Spanish ministers had such reason for optimism about securing peace, were the troops of the Army of Flanders in open mutiny as the new century opened? For the four-year period 1596–1600, the paymaster-general of the army received in excess of sixty million florins from the Spanish treasury, more than for the four-year period of Spain’s preparations for the 1588 campaign against England. And although Castilian remittances to Flanders had dropped somewhat during 1599, the more than three million ducats provided that year were certainly not dramatically lower than in other years (fig. 2).¹ Where, then, had...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Strategic Overstretch: Saluzzo, Ostend, and Kinsale
    (pp. 55-76)

    By the beginning of September 1600 the focus of Spanish attention had moved to the war that had broken out between Henry IV and Charles Emmanuel, duke of Savoy, over the question of Saluzzo.¹ The integrity of the Spanish monarchy depended upon the successful resolution of this issue. According to the Spanish ambassadors stationed in Italy, the semiautonomous states there showed signs of a desire for independence because of the probable resurgence of French power. They even had thoughts of a defensive league against Spain, which could easily have evolved into an offensive league led by either Florence or Venice,...

  10. CHAPTER 4 “Driblets like Sips of Broth”: In Search of the Elusive Cure-All
    (pp. 77-98)

    The year 1602 was a critical juncture in Philip’s conduct of the northern wars. The failures in Algiers, Flanders, and Ireland demonstrated that it was time to reassess Spanish strategy. Already in late December 1601, though still unaware of Aguila’s surrender, the Council of State had begun such an analysis. The occasion was the discussion of MartÍn de Padilla’s letter to Philip written earlier that month. In a blistering criticism of Spanish policy to date, the Adelantado told Philip: “The reinforcement needed [for Kinsale] is one that will end the business for once and for all, and not driblets like...

  11. CHAPTER 5 The English Succession and the Hope for a Settlement
    (pp. 99-114)

    It was one thing to propose a cure-all and quite another to carry out its provisions. Almost immediately Philip and the council learned of some of the problems involved in reforming the Army of Flanders by increasing the number of Spanish troops: they could not get Spanish troops to Flanders. The French still threatened Savoy and were keeping the Spanish Road closed. Until the Spaniards could find another route north, no troops would be able to pass on to Flanders. Nevertheless, Philip ordered Spanish troops to Milan to be near Savoy in case an opening occurred through which they might...

  12. CHAPTER 6 The Policy of Rapprochement
    (pp. 115-140)

    Although the rulers of Spain and England perhaps needed the peace, opposition to it still existed on both sides. In Spain, Philip himself was not completely won over to the idea, nor, if the chronicler Jerónimo de Sepúlveda is correct, were many of the intellectuals, who instead saw it as a betrayal of Catholicism to the dictates ofraison d’état:“The councillors of our king advised him that he should make peace with the English, with such infamy to ourselves, even going to the extreme of begging for it in their house. Thus all men who have understanding and knowledge...

  13. CHAPTER 7 “Blood and Fire”: Spínola’s Invasion of the Dutch Provinces
    (pp. 141-155)

    Even before the ink was dry on the Anglo-Spanish treaty, the constable made clear the central motive behind the Spanish agreement to the peace. In an audience with James before his departure from England he asked for permission to raise three thousand English soldiers for use in Flanders against the Dutch: the Habsburgs were going on the offensive.¹ Neither the English nor the Dutch were pleased to hear that James would now allow such levies. According to Noel Caron, the agent of the States-General in London, “No promulgation was ever received in London with more coolness, yes—with more sadness....

  14. CHAPTER 8 Exhaustion
    (pp. 156-171)

    Spínola’s 1605 campaign had put a severe strain on the financial resources of both Spain and the United Provinces, and during the winter interruption in fighting both sides scrambled frantically to find more funds for the following year. Since the Peace of Vervins in 1598, a number of circumstances had combined to raise the cost of the war for the Dutch. The five admiralties—responsible for administering the navy, building warships, and recruiting seamen—had seen their convoy taxes and licensing fees reduced at the same time that they were increasing the number of vessels engaged, and they now required...

  15. CHAPTER 9 Warrior Diplomacy
    (pp. 172-202)

    Wittenhorst’s mission at the end of 1606 was a clear sign that a significant transformation had taken place in the attitudes of the Habsburg and Dutch leaders; for the first time it was clear tobothsides that the war was a stalemate.¹ Neither side, however, was completely sure that the other had come to the same conclusion. To the participants in the decision-making process, diplomatic maneuvers during wartime seemed merely another means by which opponents sought to gain advantage over one another. For these countries, used to settling disputes by armed struggle, diplomacy was war by other means, the...

  16. CHAPTER 10 The Search for the Advantage: Negotiation of the Twelve Years’ Truce
    (pp. 203-233)

    Everything looked hopeful as the new year opened. On the same day that the States-General received Albert’s agreement to open negotiations (7 January), the Council of State in Spain looked over a draft of the powers requested by Spínola and added only minor changes before sending it out on 10 January. On 11 January the Dutch sent word that they agreed to Spínola’s appointment as one of the delegates and were dispatching the appropriate passports. By the third week of the month the Habsburg delegates—Spínola, Verreyken, Neyen, Richardot, and Juan de Mancicidor, the secretary of state and war originally...

  17. Conclusion: The Pax Hispanica in Northwestern Europe
    (pp. 234-244)

    With the ratification of the Twelve Years’ Truce, northwestern Europe entered a long period relatively free of major conflict. The significance of this truce depends upon which point of view one adopts. Lerma struggled hard to convince people that Philip III had ushered in a Pax Hispanica comparable to the Pax Romana of Augustus. One of his propagandists, Mattias de Novoa, would write: “Oh happy century, marveled at and sighed over incessantly by the men of the most high and illustrious king, Don Philip III,the Great, in which everyone, with a prosperity scarcely ever achieved, settled down and rested...

  18. Abbreviations
    (pp. 245-246)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 247-310)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-324)
  21. Index
    (pp. 325-335)