Foreign policy of Charles II

Foreign policy of Charles II

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Charles II and Foreign Policy
Charles involvement
Charles was heavily involved with foreign affairs. He spoke many foreign languages and
so talked directly to foreign ambassadors but this meant that even some of Charles
closest advisors didn't know what Charles had done or agreed to.
Charles had no long term foreign policy aim due to the ever changing European power,
although Charles never showed much concern for trade.
Motives of parliament
There are many conflicting theories to parliament's motives. On the 2nd Dutch war, some
historians believe it was due to pressure form merchants while others think it was
about honour and prestige.
Charles foreign policy
In public Charles agreed to a hostile policy towards France, but in private he tried to
secure an alliance with France.
1) Charles had to take into account the changing balance of power in Europe
The Treaty of the Pyrenees signalled the decline of Spain as a power
Sweden's power of the Baltic was also in decline
The Austrian Hapsburgs were under threat from the Ottoman Empire
2) In order to have a successful foreign policy it needed funding, which required
higher taxes
3) Dutch were a dominant commercial rival, but taking trade off them meant
fighting a fellow protestant power.
The Marriage question 16601662
Everyone expected and Anglo French marriage for Charles, but the negotiations failed.
No Spanish marriage could be agreed on because Spain wouldn't offer concessions to
England. When Charles considered a Dutch wife he demanded money and the renewal
of the navigation act so the Dutch said no. "She can't marry him... why not? ... She's met
So a marriage treaty with the Portuguese was arranged in 1661 to Catherine of
Braganza, the Portuguese had given Charles support during the civil war so they seemed
a good option (plus no other woman would have him). Dowry of £500,000 and England

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Portuguese colonies and were given gifts in the form of the
territories o Bombay and Tangier. Marriage in 1662.
Ramifications meant England had to help defend Portuguese interests which meant
helping them with their struggle to become independent from Spain. In 1668 England
helped Portugal to gain independence, but England never gained much from the
alliance. Parliament refused to fund the continued support of Tangier.
Wholehearted support for Charles and Catherine's marriage
The Second Dutch war
The Dutch were seen as a major commercial rival.…read more

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C) England gained (New York New Jersey) these were beneficial to England
1667 85
The Dutch Alliance (part of the triple alliance 1668)
This alliance appeared to indicate a protestant direction in foreign affairs (which
parliament liked), the alliance was caused by Louis XIV's aggressive foreign policy
where he captured forts and territories in the Spanish Netherlands (began the war of
devolution). France was now a danger to all three countries (England, Sweden and
Holland).…read more

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The Dutch were a commercial rival
5) A military victory would give England maritime supremacy
Charles made two mistakes in trying to achieve his aims.
Charles promised to convert which meant that Louis now had a devastating
blackmail weapon which he could use as he chose.
Charles started the war without consulting parliament first or asking for money,
as a result he lacked financial resources for a long war.…read more

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England was seen as conducting two foreign strategies
The official, protestant and proDutch one from Danby
The secret, unofficial proFrench one from Charles
Danby's approach
Pros Cons
Would help improve relations with Danby failed to secure an alliance with the
parliament and therefore increase the Dutch which he promised in his proDutch
chance of getting more money policy
Possibility of marriage for Mary (James' Because he couldn't secure an alliance
Protestant daughter) to Will MP's thought he was proFrench and
Protestant succession (V.…read more


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