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"elizabeth Clearly Sought to Avoid Conflict with Spain in the Years 1559 to 1585" - How Far Do You Agree with the Statement?

Autor:   •  March 11, 2016  •  Exam  •  775 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,327 Views

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"Elizabeth clearly sought to avoid conflict with spain in the years 1559 to 1585" - how far do you agree with the statement?

On November 17th 1558, when Mary I died and her younger sister Elizabeth I came to the throne England and Spain were strong allies. This was clear as Philip II of Spain strongly considered marrying Elizabeth, and visa versa. However, 30 years later the two countries were bitter enemies. In the years before the Spanish Armada (1588) there was a clear decline in diplomatic relations between the two countries due to a variety of factors. Many historians view 1572 as a key turning point in relations between the two countries though others would argue that by this point they were already enemies and that war was inevitable. The overriding issue between the two was that Phillip was a devout catholic and Elizabeth was seen as the leading protestant monarch in europe, therefore becoming a natural enemy to spain and threat to catholicism.

Elizabeth was extremely indecisive and war would always be a last resort for her. She generally seemed to avoid conflict with powers such as Spain. Elizabeth did not have clear aims in her foreign policy but she reacted to events in order to fulfil her main aims as a monarch; to protect and enrich england. Unlike her predecessors Elizabeth thought that taking a moderate stance on religion would be the best way to avoid conflict. It was clear that she was reversing mary's catholic changes but she also kept certain aspects of the catholic religion and we can see that she did not intend to make huge changes in the "Elizabethan settlement". However she was nevertheless regarded as a figurehead for the protestant movement caross Europe and this would have impacts on her chances of keeping up good relations with spain.

After the spanish bullion affair, Phillip clearly did not see England as a friend. However the economic benefits of England and the possibility of marriage to Elizabeth would prevent any sort of confrontation. England's safety largely relied on Spain and France remaining occupied in other spheres , this often was them fighting each other or separate issues such as Spain being preoccupied Morisco revolt. This allowed Elizabeth to go unnoticed for the first part of her reign. However when the french and Spanish signed the treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, and the catholic league was formed this would change. From this point onwards Elizabeth constantly feared a catholic invasion and looked to therefore support her protestant allies more. After the massacre of St Bartholemew's day there was a lot of pressure on her by english protestants and advisors such as Cecil to  send aid to the french Hugenouts. Elizabeth was reluctant because she was fundamentally against any rebels but eventually gave in to the advice of Cecil. After the "spanish fury" of 1576 Elizabeth increased her aid i to the rebels in the netherlands by sponsoring john casamir and sending the states 20,000 as well as trying to prevent french contraol by pretending to be interested in marrying the Duke of Alencon. She also sponsored Francis Drakes 1557-80 expedition to the pacific, hoping that he would seize enough spanish gold to disrupt Phillips plans in the low countries. Regnans in Excelsis ("reigning on high") was a papal bull issued on 27 April 1570 by Pope Pius V declaring "Elizabeth, the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime". This allowed catholic englishmen to rebel and even assassinate the queen of England without committing any sin.  


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