Elizabeth 1 - Foreign Policy

Elizabeth's foreign policy - all of it

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France, Threat 1558-67, Intervention 1563,

Foreign Policy: - security and defence = aims, Elizabeth does not have money for serious war of expansion. 

Threat 1558-67

- England vulnerable to attack - lone Protestant state.- alienated. 

- provoke invasion for Counter Reformation. 

* England techincally still at war with France. 

* France now controlled Scotland - MQS, Mary of Guise.

* 1558 Henry II declared MQS legit heir. 

1559 death of Henry II, 1560 death of Francis II - Mary Queen of France & Scotland. 

- had every excuse to move against England, restore old faith. 

Liz relied on Hapbsurg - valois rivalry. - but Treaty of Cateau - Cambresis brought their war to an end. 

English Security relied on Spanish alliance.

- Spanish fears of france conquest of england - Spain prop up liz govt. 

- did not encourage papal bull 

- prospective marriage as a tool - 1560 marriage to Archduke Charles

1559 - faced menacing position of the French in Scotland. Mary of Guise - regency in Scotland.

England feared invasion.

Spain feared Hapsburg circle disruption.

Intervention in 1563

- Liz wanted Channel port - make up for loss of Calais. - wanted invasion gate into France. 

* so went to help Huguenots - reacted badly to foreign presence - joined with caths, pushed english back.

National defence now priority not dynastic gains. 

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Scotland 1559 -60, 60-67, 68-86

Intervention 1559-60

- rebellion by scottish nobles, - wanted to rid scotland of french influenve

- replace cath church with presbyterian church.

Privy Council- wanted to give help.

- cecil wanted to help. 

- Liz more careful. - but did give financial support. - risk war with france

England would be more secure with scottish presbyterian govt. - would weaken mqs's claim to throne.

Liz did not believe in supporting rebellion against legitimate rulers. 

1560 intervened in interests of english security:

* two pronged attack, sent navy to Firth of Forth to prevent french reinforcement, blockade to Leith.

- siege failed, but french position weakened. 

* french fleet sank in storm

* Hugueont rising in France

* Mary of Guise died in June 1560

Treaty of Edinburgh July 1560

french and english troops withdrawn from scotland. 

scottish presbyterian lords became provisional government

Success: closed gate of invasion from the North 

achieved without invasion from Spain. 

Threat from MQS 

-1560 - Francis II died , December MQS returned to Scotland as Queen.

- she did not try to interfere with protestantism in Scotland or remove scottish lords. 

1567 - scottish lords rebelled against mqs. 

Scottish crisis resolved itself - without interference from Liz. 

MQS deposed - threat gotten rid of , heir. 

Prot faction wanted friendship with England  - not france


situation took dangerous turn 1570

- regent in Scotland - prot, earl of Moray assassinated. 

- civil war broke out , catholic supporters MQS & Prots James VI.

elizabeth intervened three times. 


* counter threat of Guise with Marian. 

- Guise wanted to use Mary , invade england. - french & scot. 

- Catherine de Medici - in charge of France - unsympathetic to Mary. - protecting her own sons in france.  - only when her support wavered ddi liz feel under threat. 

By 1570 - liz had achieved destruction of the power of the border lords. 

- came to agreement with fr - no intervention in scotland. 

- her intervetion increased english security. 

Liz helped establish Protestant pro english Earl of Morton - regent in Scot. 

1572-79 - stable, 

Esme Stuart. 

Presbyterians lords forced him out of scotland.

1586 - pension for James Vi - relations become more secure. 

MQS threat

- only a threat if French backing her. 

1568 - comes to england.

- strong claims to throne 

needed to deal with her with force

- keeping her alive - marian plots.

1571 - relations summary.

intervention in scotland - success. 

invasion gate shut.

No spanish involvement.

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Time line for foreign policy 1559- 1571.

1558 -french threat

1559 - cateau cambresis, menacing position of french in scotland.

- rebelling of scottish lords.

- send £2000 to rebels

- death of henry II

1560 - death of francis II, Mary returns to scotland as queen

- navy to firth of Forth

- Leith blockade

- Treaty of Edinburgh

1563 - french intervention

1567 - scottish lords rebelled against mqs

1568 - MQS arrives in england

1570 - intervene in scotland 3 times. - counter Guise, destruction of power of border lords, agreement with france, Earl of Moray

1572-79 stable

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Spanish Threat - 1567 - 74


- realignment . 

Spanish troops in the netherland. 

- just across the Channel - threatening.   - france involved n civil war. 

relations deteriorated 1567-68

army in Nlands - threat to security. 

she learned from french intervention - didnt do anything. 

tried to harrass Spain to withdraw  - TRADE.

* encouraged piracy. - breaking trade - monopoly - new world.

* Spain attacked Drake and Hawkins - slave trading. 

Liz worried he could moved easily against Prot england - heresy stamped out.

1568 - bullion seized.  - disrupt spain putting down rebellion. 

Liz and cecil had not thought itd result in war. 

TRADE WAR 1569-74

- Spain cut off trade between england and nlands - seized english goods.

england increased duty on spanish goods and seized spanish property. 

* tensions heightened, cath threat & marian plots. 

- result. england moved closed to france - de Medici. 

both felt threatened : - Spanish army in nlands, Guise in Scotland

Treaty of Blois 1572 - mutual defence alliance, marriage. - strength position against Guise in scotland. 

St Bartholomew's mssacre - upset english prots. 

Cecil feared indicated move towards Spain by carherine - joint catholic heresy move.

Treaty of bristol 1574 - Spain & England. - not a lasting settlement, neither wanted war. 

- friendship treaties with fr and sct. 

Liz had achieved security - standing up to spain

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War causes - 1574-1585

aim = consistent.

policy = changed.


* security threatened when aggressive foreign power took control of Nlands.

- William of Orange - took Flushing 1572 - Nlands in open revolt. 

- dutch rebels looking for help.

problem for liz - ask france - then france are involved. 




- allowed volunteers to go.

cecil urged caution - england can't afford. 


- spain restore control or french get invovled - neither good for liz.

committed herself = offered Spain reconciliation:

* wanted maintenance of spainish rule in nlands.

* measure of religious tolerance.

* spanish armies recalled. 


Rebels - Pacification of the Ghent. 1577 - spanish army withdrew, back within a year. 

did not act immediately to help rebels - french intervention caution

- england not ready for intervention - no money.


- differences of opinion; Walsingham - wanted prot crusade to Nlands. 

Liz I - did not want to upset catholics at home and did not want to support rebellion. 

* Concerns - purely for english security. - wanted Spain not France in Nlands , POWER BALANCE. 


ENd of 1579 - foreign policy had achieved nothing, Anjou was leading the french into the Nlands. - territorial gain.

1579 - marriage negotiations open, desperate attempt to control french ambitions. 

- council never accept french marriage. 

- policy changed ; used Anjou in Nlands to check Spain's power. 

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Events leading to war 1580-85

1580's - Sp. threat growing rapidly . 

Phillip annexed Portugal. - controlled Portugal's colonial empire. and wealth and navy. 

1583 - Throckmorton plot. 

Spain sent Jesuits to Sotland. 

1584 - Duke of Anjou died. - given French support and leadership to Dutch rebels.

1584 - William of Orange was shot. - Dutch left leaderless and English thrown into panic - worried liz would be shot. 

Bond of Association 1585 

1583-85- Parma had successfully reconquered Nlands.  

1585 - Antwerp fell to Spain

December 1585 - Treaty of Joinville. 

- between Spain, Guise, French Catholic League - SPain interfering in French affair, manipulate the succession. 

ENgland's security - Liz could not allow Nlands to be crushed or Huguenots to be crushed. or Henry III. 

- Spain threatening domination of Europe, + building enterprise. 

Spanish navy v v v strong - BIG THREAT.

Liz had wide support for war against Spain. - May 1585, Phillip had seized alll English ships. - merchants supported war. 

August 1585 Treaty of Nonsuch

- england + dutch. 

December - Leicester took army of 6'000 to Nlands, - GOVERNOR GENERAL. - wrong man for the job. 

- Spain saw this an an act of law. 

Primary causes of war - Spanish success in Nlands + Assassination of William of Orange.

- Spain threatening to tip power balance. 

- Spanish armies threatening to overrun Northern France with Guise help.

-heresy stamp out. 

- Liz saw her help to the Nlands not an act of aggression - defensive gesture. 

- to stem territorial aims of Spain

- preserve english independence and protestantism.  

* Phillip felt obliged to launch a crusade - heretical english 

England's reason - preserve power balance. & english security. 

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War against Spain - 1585-1604

AIms: - did not have resources to fight full scale land war. 

- war strategy based on being an island. 

- small military expeditions to netherlands & france - some naval expeditions against Spain and her colonies.

* policy - primarily defensive. 

- concentrated on naval defence at home

- defensive arrangements on the south and east coastal counties.

- no full scale attack on Spain or Nlands.

- never her aim to crush Spain or her empire

* defend england's independence, control Channel coastline, Spain - favourable Nlands term, BALANCE POWER IN EUROPE.

Netherlands - defensive war

Parma = able commander. - Liz did nothave the troops to fight him in the field. 

* more soldiers died of disease than in battle

* - sept 1589, Willoughby army of 4'000 to North fr. - down to 1'000

* problem of recuritment

- finances, 6.000 troops with Leicester - half her ordinary revenue. 

- 1593 parliamentary debate over tax.  - parl always gave her what she needed though.

- could not afford a tax rebellion, careful not to ask for excessive amounts in forced loans. 

- sold crown lands

* conquest of Nlands wasn't her aim , - would not finance conquest to Nlands to give it back to Spain. - not in her interest to commit her men and money to land war in the Nlands or France.

- needed to hold deep water ports, such a Flushing. 

1589 - Henry III assassinated, 

- Philip's attention turned to Spain. 

- Spanish army sent from Netherlands into northern france to support Catholic League. 

- relieved pressure in Nlands and put Spain on the defensive against the Dutch. 

1589-95 Maurice of Nassau was able to expel the Spanish  from the north-east provinces and make the Rhine and Meuse the southern defence line. 

2/3 of troops at Bergen, Ostend, Flushing Brielle - guarding coastline - stopping armada. 

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France - Fighting in France, why and with what suc

- security of England rested on survival of northern France. 

* French Channel ports and Brest could not be allowed to fall to Spain or the League to be used by the armada as a base. 

* Liz did not commit England to France until after the assassination of Henry III 1589. 

- before she gambled: -  Huguenots be able to defend themselves, Henry III split the Guise and the League - HAPPENED. 

Channel ports had remained in the king's hands and not taken by Guise.

Guise + Spain = alliance. 

July 1589 - had to support herself to help Huguenot Henry IV- Spanish armies moved to Northern France. - to help League. 

Northern France - sympathetic to the League. - direct threat to Channel ports. 

1590 - Phillip became the Protector of the League. - meant to secure northern France , to invade England. 

NF - only useful to Henry IV - to receive English aid. - 1589-94 Henry received lots of aid. - financial and military aid.  

1593- Henry IV converted to Catholicism. - accepted by warring French parties. 

- English troops withdrawn from France. 

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War at Sea

Aims and strategy:

* critical to english security - Channel Ports of France and Nlands. 

- defence of England, was always going to rest in the last resort on her navy. 

- the war against Spain - DEFENSIVE WAR.

- determined her naval strategy.

Navy had to keep in home waters to defend England against an armada.

* cost of the war was enormous- shaped character. 

- Liz made the war at sea pay for itself. - financing expeditions through joint stock companies. 

- private individuals invested in the expedition and took profits in relation to their investments. 

-profit was clearly the ulterior motive in the war at sea and this determined the nature of the expeditions and why often they did not achieve their military target. - e.g. Portugal expedition 1589.



- disrupt Spain's war finanace

-restrict activities in the Nlands. 

- provide war finance for Liz and profit for joint stock investors

- good idea - anticipated future for english war strategy to fight European wars.

Hawkins - believed silver blockade could win with relay of 6 ships - but Liz did not have the resources to do that and protect england. 

Sea dogs were successful so that 1590 - Phillip II had to start a convoy system to protect the treasure fleet on its Atlantic crossing. 

- 20 spanish war ships were sent against the five English in the Azores. - too strong for English. 

1585 & 1595 - Drake sent out to damage Spanish bases in America - minor set back though. 

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Why did the Armada fail 1588?

Real danger - Spanish fleet at Lisbon - attack England as defend the Azores. 

* vital English ships kept in the Channel to defend England from attack. 

error: - Phillip II's orders were stuck to rigidly until reached Parma's troop in Nlands. 

* BUT Parma did not hold deep water ports such as Flushing. 

English held the CHannel ports that mattered. 

Spanish leadership was weak. 

- great admiral Santa Cruz died 1587 - inexperienced Duke of Medina Sidonia had taken over. 

1588 - armada sailed past the weakest English defences - Torbay, Isle of Wight. - could have used them as bases.

continued up the Channel although Parma did not hold deep water ports. 

- although crescent formation meant there was little damage. 

but - Sidonia trapped off Calais when English fleet met up. Sidonia expected Parma to attempt Channel crossing but Dutch flyboats prevented Spanish troops putting to sea. 

Crescent formation was broken by English fire ships off Calais. 

- cut anchors, proved difficult in storms later.

Battle off Gravelines 29th July

- disorganised spanish fleet. 

Hawkin redesigned fleet - long range canons and light manouverable ships. 

- spanish couldnt get close enough 

only one galleon was sunk and 2 others run aground on sand banks - not much of an english victory.

- wind change - allowed Sidonia to sale home up north sea round ireland and scotland. 

- good cus england had run out of ammunition. 

England had been luck - wind change and poor Spanish leadership. 

Defeat of armada showed Liz that england could not send naval forces to the Azores or anywhere else if spain had a larger fighting navy. 

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Portugal 1589

1589 - defeat of Armada and death of Henry III - Liz had the money to launch the attack on Spain. 

* good opportunity. 

- half armada perished on the way home, about 50/60 struggled home, they lay in Santander and San Sebastian unrigged, ungunned and unmanned - Liz ordered destruction. - Spanish fleet would have not recovered from this. 

* failure of the expedition calls into question Liz's authority as a war leader. 

- Portugal financed by joint stock companies. 

- their desire for profit that ruined the expedition. 

- Drake and Norris sailed in April with 137 ships and 19'000 soldiers but they disobeyed orders and made for Portugal.

- they failed to take Corunna to hold as a base - Spanish waiting for them in Lisbon.  - failed to take that too.

- disease reduced forces

- made for Azores, - bad weather. 

-Sacked Vigo - to make a profit and struggled home. 

So - privateers who financed a fleet expected profit and navy had to make sure they got it.

- 'sea dogs' motivated by greed not altruism.

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Ireland 1597 +

1597 + - concentration here. 

* rebellion there since 1593

- Spanish help in September 1601 - minimal and a disappointment to the Irish. 

- 3'000 troops under Augilla sent to secure Ireland as a base to invade England.

- 1602 - Spanish surrendered having failed to hold the port of Kinsale against Mountjoy. 

- Ireland always been a threat to england's security.

- diverted resources away from other activities. - Mountjoy was strong enough to expel Spanish.


Liz died March 1603.

- James I made peace with Phillip III 1604. 

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Importance of Spanish war:

- not just a war at sea - whole of western Europe fought to keep balance of power and stop further Spanish expansion. 

- england's part had been vital. - successfully controlled the Channel coast. 

- helped preserve the independence of France & Nlands and her own. 

- Defensive war - SUCCESS.

- not an offensive war. 

- not a war for an empire. 

Liz had seized areas vital to England's security. - southern coast of the Channel.

But not all aims had been achieved:

- only half the Netherlands remained under Spain 1648 - enough to check france expansion.

spanish colonies remained closed by international law to england.

English merchants had made loads of £££ through joint stock companies - raiding spanish ships etc.

- helped finance war. 

- east india company set up 1600

Length of war:

- acquisition of wealth had undermined military success e.g. portugal.

- england did not have the resources to finish the war which is why her strategy had always been defensive

- spain could not subdue the Nlands. 

- failure of armada - then liz agreed expeditions to France, portugal when she had money. 

Spain had been unable to defeat England. 

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