Charles II's Foreign Policy 1667-85

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  • The Foreign Policy of Charles II, 1667-85
    • The Dutch Alliance (Part of the Triple Alliance, 1668)
      • The signing of the Triple Alliance with the Dutch and Sweden appeared to confirm that a Protestant direction would now be taken in foreign affairs
        • It seemed to indicate a U-turn as England allied with her recent enemy
          • This change had occurred because Louis XIV had taken advantage of the war to capture forts and overrun large parts of the Spanish Netherlands
            • France was a danger - England feared the commercial and political dangers of allowing the Flanders coastline to be in French hands
              • The Dutch were concerned about their security with an aggressive France on their borders
      • England and the Dutch agreed detailed terms to help each other if they were invaded
        • They stipulated what concessions Spain should be required to make France in the Netherlands to ensure peace - the aim was to dissuade French aggression
          • England and the Dutch would make war against France and continue war until peace was restored
      • The importance of the alliance can be exaggerated
        • France had already discussed the question of frontier with the United Provinces and Louis had already made an agreement with the Emperor Leopold I which laid down the future position of the Spanish empire
      • Miller argues that for many at the French court, particularly the military who wanted to continue the war, the peace was humiliating
        • Louis was forced to abandon claims to lands to which he had just title - they kept territories such as Lille and Charleroi but Louis wanted Flanders
      • The prospect of an Anglo-French agreement became more likely
        • Louis was aware the Dutch were still a formidable power, particularly at sea, so help from England would be welcome
    • The Treaty of Dover, 1670
      • Secret Treaty
        • It was known to a few of Charles' closest advisors
          • Negotiations took place between Henrietta Anne on behalf of Louis XIV and James and Clifford
        • There would be a naval attack on the Dutch by England and France
          • France would provide 6,000 men and £150,000
        • Parts of the Dutch Republic would be taken by the English and French with the rest ruled by Charles II's nephew, William of Orange
        • France would pay Charles £225,000 a year
        • Charles would declare himself Catholic when he could and eventually Catholicism would be re-established in England
      • Official Treaty
        • The Cabal and the Privy Council knew of the treaty before it was made public by the courtiers
        • There would be a naval and military attack on the Dutch by England and France
        • Parts of the Dutch Republic would be taken by the English and French with the rest ruled by William of Orange
      • Reasons for the treaty
        • The Anglo-Dutch rivalry still remained despite the Triple Alliance
        • The Dutch navy was still the greatest threat to English security
        • The Dutch were still the commercial rival to England
        • Military victory would give England maritime supremacy
        • Personal prestige: Charles was keen to recover dignity after the humiliation of the Medway
        • Imperialism: Defeat of the Dutch offered Charles absolutism
      • The Secret Clause
        • The king was sympathetic to Catholicism
        • When the treaty was first discussed Charles was sincere in his intentions
        • He wanted to secure French relations and would need to publicly commit
      • Charles' mistakes
        • With his promise to conversion, Louis now had a blackmail weapon
        • Charles lacked financial resources because his calculations had depended upon a comprehensive victory
      • Other secret agreements with Louis XIV
        • In both August 1675 and February 1676 Charles was promised £112,000 if he kept parliament suspended as most MPs were anti-French
          • Charles kept to the agreements - parliament was suspended until February 1677
      • Charles was considering finance, religion, revenge against the Dutch and all possible means to put pressure on Louis in relation to the Treaty of Dover
    • The Third Dutch War, 1672-4
      • The Dutch war began two days after the Declaration of Indulgence. Charles II declared war
      • The main attack was by Louis XIV leading 120,000 troops into the republic
        • Charles' naval support of the French was a failure
          • The English failed to capture a Dutch fleet. The battle off Southwold was inconclusive
      • Charles was forced to end the war because the continued failure against the Dutch made war even more unpopular
        • In August, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire entered the war against England
          • Parliament refused to vote money and so Charles was forced to end the war in February under the terms of the Treaty of Westminster
      • The English admiral was drowned and over 200 men were lost
        • The English had also been defeated off the Dutch coast near Texel
          • The war had been a failure for England
      • At home Charles faced bitter criticism as he had gone to war without parliament's approval and the Stop of the Exchequer was causing serious financial problems
        • When James' conversion to Catholicism became public, many were convinced that the purpose of the war and alliance was to crush the Dutch and then impose popery and absolutism at home
      • There were possible concerns for Charles when negotiating peace
        • There was threat of civil war if parliament discovered the secret clause. However Charles had united the greatest military power
      • Relations with Louis deteriorated. VCharles destroyed any trust that might have existed between the two monarchs
        • Although Charles suspended parliament, he still felt politic to try to placate them by sacrificing members of the Cabal who were associated with the pro-French policy
    • Dual Policy in relation to the Dutch and the French, 1674-81
      • Charles' pro-French leanings had created mistrust in England and the appointment of pro-Dutch Danby as Lord Treasurer in July 1673 did not mean an end to the king's difficulties
        • The king often followed his own inclinations and as a result England often conducted two strategies
          • There was the official Protestant and pro-Dutch policy of Danby and the secret, unofficiak pro-French policy of Charles
      • Danby's Policy
        • It could help improve the king's relations with parliament and thereby increase the chances of obtaining additional taxation
        • France was growing both militarily and economically so the Dutch alliance had commercial and political advantages
        • There was a possibility of a marriage between Mary (James' daughter) and William of Orange
          • This would improve Charles' popularity at home as there would be a protestant succession
        • Danby found it difficult to convince Charles that his policy was the right one
          • The king still wanted a French alliance, seeing in it the chance of money
            • Charles was in secret negotiations with France since 1675
        • Danby's position was undermined as the offers from Louis were not substantial but tempting
          • Danby's position was weakened with the king and parliament and forced him to connive with the king over another secret agreement made with France in 1676
      • In December 1677 by an Anglo-Dutch treaty, England agreed to impose peace terms on Louis, by force if needed
        • It was agreed that if proposals were rejected, England would join the Dutch in the anti-French alliance
          • By this Charles hoped to stifle criticism of a pro-French forein gpolicy
            • Louis rejected the terms and Charles found himself committed to war
      • Parliament supported the Anglo-Dutch Treaty and voted £1million and provided an army of 30,000 men
      • The Dutch and the French didn't trust Charles and ended their war with the Treaty of Nijmegen
      • Further Secret Agreements
        • Ralph Montagu, the English Ambassador in Paris, carried out secret negotiations with the French that led them to granting 2 million livres if parliament remained suspended and England refrained from going to war with France
        • In May 1678 Charles conducted another secret treaty with the French
          • In return for more money he would suspend parliament and would disband the army parliament had voted to raise at the start of the year
            • Charles suspended parliament but didn't disband the army
      • Charles did nothing to heal the mistrust that existed between him and parliament
        • Parliament was convinced that the army raised for use against the French would be used to crush them instead
        • Charles annoyed Louis and threatened to pubslush the secret treaty
    • The Exclusion Crisis, 1679-81
      • The Exclusion Crisis and then Chares' determination not to summon another parliament resulted in England becoming a spectator in European affairs
        • The king did not have the money to pursue an active overseas policy
          • With England no longer able to take an active role it was much easier for Louis to undermine the power that existed after the Treaty of Nijmegen
      • Louis' position was strengthened by increasing military success
        • France's expansion into Flanders threatened English security
          • Charles would not weaken Louis as he lacked resources to act and allowed the navy to decline by neglecting its maintenance
      • Charles was still confident that Louis would back him if he was threatened as the passivity of the last years weakened England's position
        • In 1681 Louis provided further subsidies
      • The accidental benefit to England's neutrality was that peace allowed trade and economic development to flourish

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