Cromwell's Foreign Policy

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  • Cromwell's Foreign Policy
    • Aims
      • Religion: He wanted to weaken Spain as it was seen to be the "anti-christ" of Europe
      • Commercial considerations: Viewed that he failed to recognise the growing importance of commerce
      • National interest: Formed an alliance with France until 1659. It was a pragmatic alliance against Spain
      • Imperialist ambitions: The taking over of Jamaica instead of Hispaniola
    • Background
      • Religion was very important in foreign policy as the reformation made England Protestant, however France and Spain were Catholic
      • The Habsburgs dominated Europe and had religious power, leading a crusade
      • Puritans criticised foreign policy as it was seen to sympathise with the Catholic religion
      • The nature of the Thirty Years War changed - national considerations were becoming more important than religious considerations
      • There was growing commercial and trade rivalry
        • The English and the Dutch had trade rivalry in Eastern Europe and in the East Indies
    • Anglo-Dutch Relations
      • The Rump felt they had a lot in common with the United Provinces
        • They sent a special mission to the Hague to discuss terms of an alliance
      • There appeared to be good reasons for an alliance
        • They were both Protestant countries
        • Both had anti-Spanish tradition
        • Both recently became republics
      • The Dutch were outraged by the execution of Charles I
        • Some provinces, although republics, had sympathy for the House of Orange
      • The Navigation Act, 1651
        • Oliver St John condemned the Dutch for abandoning the Protestant cause
          • The Rump introduced the Act as a way of punishing the Dutch for their refusal to enter into alliance
            • The merchant dominated Rump wanted to strike a blow to England's major commercial rival
        • It laid down that all goods imported into Britain from Africa, Asia or the Americas were to be carried only in British vessels
      • The Rump encouraged the publication of cheap newspapers that were anti-Dutch
    • The Dutch War, 1652-4
      • Dutch and English fleets encountered each other off the coast of Kent
        • The Dutch opened fire instead of lowering their flags in respect of the English republican flag
      • The war involved a series of naval engagements fought mainly in the Channel and North Sea
      • Initially, the Dutch had the better of affairs but the death of Admiral Van Tromp in 1653, turned the war against them
        • The emergence of Robert Blake as a naval commander gave the English an advantage
      • A series of English victories led to a blockade off the Dutch coast
      • In Holland, republicans had gained the upper hand over the Orangists. There was unwillingness to continue war that was being fought on behalf of the Stuarts
        • There was political change in England in 1653
          • Both had good reason to end the fighting
      • The dissolution of the Rump was significant to hostilities as within days of establishing the Protectorate, peace talks began
    • The End of the Dutch War - The Treaty of Westminster, April 1654
      • Cromwell was a reluctant supporter of war with the Dutch; he thought it was a scandal that England was fighting fellow Protestants
        • He saw Spain as a great threat
      • Under the Treaty of Westminster, it was agreed that the Dutch would abide by the Navigation Act, to honour the English flag at sea and to cease offer haven to English royalists
        • Cromwell didn't want to enforce harsh economic terms on the Dutch, he wanted to promote an anti-Spanish alliance
          • He was prepared to offer the Dutch a monopoly of the East India trade if they would make war on Spain, however the Dutch were not ready to make war
    • The Western Design, 1654 -1655
      • The defeat of the United Provinces enhanced the military reputation of the Protectorate and encouraged other European nations to consider the advantages of an alliance with England
      • By the end of 1654 Cromwell had made trade agreements with Sweden, Denmark and Portugal
        • He aimed to capture the Caribbean islands from Spain and then turn them into permanent bases from which the English could destroy Spanish shipping and thus break her empire
      • A torrent of pamphlets awoke memories of the Armada and Inquisition. This prepared the public for war with Spain
      • Military strategy involved Penn and Venables capturing Hispaniola
        • The attack failed as the wrong area of the island was chosen for landing. Distances were miscalculated and the troops were affected by extreme heat and disease
          • Instead, England gained Jamaica. It proved valuable in the long term (sugar, coffee, bananas, rum)
      • The campaign was a failure as many troops were lost and Spain retaliated by closing her European ports to English vessels
        • Initially Cromwell was depressed by the failure of the Western design. He interpreted the affair as the Almighty's way of rebuking the English for their slowness in adopting true godliness
      • There were commercial objections to the war with Spain as it disrupted trade
    • War with Spain, 1654-1560
      • Initially it broke out because of the Western Design in which it had been provoked
      • War was popular in England as they were fighting the Catholic enemy
      • There were some major successes for England
        • In September 1656 a fleet was defeated off Cadiz after a blockade on the port
        • In April 1657 they captured more Spanish treasure off Tenerife
    • Colonial Policy
      • Cromwell gave support to English Puritan colonists in North America, with whom he had religious sympathy, to expand into neighbouring regions belonging to Holland and France
      • There are doubts as to whether Cromwell thought in terms of establishing an empire
    • Relations with France
      • There were three factors that meant Cromwell was prepared to consider an agreement with France
        • 1. He was impressed by the willingness of the Bourbon monarchy to tolerate Huguenots
        • 2. Personal relations between Cromwell and Mazarin during 1654 to 1661
        • 3. Limited success of the Spanish war
      • It was agreed under the Anglo-French Treaty (1655) that France would no  longer give shelter to the Stuarts
        • England was in alliance with a Catholic power against another Catholic power
      • In the Anglo-French military agreement in 1657, contingents of Protectorate groups joined with the France to assist in an attack upon the Spanish Flanders
      • Military operations and victories included the capture of Mardyke (1657), Battle of the Dunes (1658) and the acquiring of the port of Dunkirk
      • The war with Spain ended after Cromwell's death in May 1659 by the Treaty of the Pyrenees
    • The Baltic Question
      • The benefits of an alliance with Sweden would include...
        • A Protestant union
        • England would have an entry directly into Baltic diplomacy
        • In 1654 there was a treaty between England and Sweden
          • It intended to weaken the Dutch grip upon trade and to counterbalance the existing treaty between Holland and Denmark
            • The main aim of English policy was to prevent any one power controlling the Baltic
          • In 1655 and 1657 Cromwell supported Charles X of Sweden by providing him with ships and money
      • It was feared that Sweden was becoming too powerful and so there was an outbreak of Swedeish-Danish war in 1657
        • War was won by Sweden the following year
          • The Treaty of Roskilde in 1658 was significant as the English ambassador in Sweden took a central role in bringing peace
            • This protected the interests of English trade in the Baltic

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