Tudor England and the Netherlands

A detailed description of the events that took place in the Netherlands 1485-1603 and their interaction with other countries.

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Burgundy / The Netherlands / The Low Countries / The United Provinces

  • traditional allies of England due to good trading relations and their shared hostility to France

After Charles V became King of Spain, they became Hapsburg Provinces.

With the accession of Philip II, they demanded their independance.

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Antwerp became the centre of English cloth sales:

"I may call the peace with France one of discretion, and that wth Flanders and Brabant one of necessity" - Sir Thomas Smith, in Elizabeth's reign

On average, 75% of exports consisted of cloth sold in Antwerp

1550 Market collapsed! Danger of relying on a single commodity became apparent:

"it is inconvenient that the utterance of... cloth should depend upon the Low Countries and Spain" - charter to set up the Russian Company, 1555

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Trade as a Political Weapon

Where necessary, both England and Spain used trade embargos as a form of attack:

1493-6 Henry VII imposed an embargo on the cloth trade in protest of Burgundian support of the pretender to the thone Perkin Warbeck. This caused a depression and the problem was not resolved until the Treaty of Magnus Intercursus in 1496

1528 Henry VIII and Wolsey imposed a trade embargo on Charles V to try and put pressure on him to consent to a divorce. This was a failure and caused economic problems in England

1563 On the pretext of an outbreak of plague in England, Parma embargoed cloth imports from England

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Dynastic Threat

Henry Tudor's weak connection to the crown of England meant that the Netherlands could be used to stir up rebellion with Yorkists as their figurehead. Their proximity to England meant that they could become a threat:

1487 Margaret of Burgundy supported Lambert Simnel

1490s She backed Perkin Warbeck

1493-6 Trade embargo with Burgundy

1496 Treaty of Magnus Intercursus
general threat solved, however, de la Pole was still harboured until... 

1506 Treaty of Windsor
de la Pole handed over to England, ending of any dynastic threat

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Fear of Invasion

  • important ports
  • not far frm England
  • source of threat to England, particularly if hostile forces of France and Spain were there:

"it will be hard with the Queen and with England if ever the French possess or the Spanish tyrranise in the Low Countries" - Earl of Sussex

  • not threat in Charles V's reign as Netherlands were well handled, but under Philip...

1560s French Wars of Religion

1566 Revolt of the Netherlands

armies brought to control the situation were "lodged in the very counter-scarp of England" (Cecil) and constituted a serious threat

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Direct Intervention

1566 Revolt against Spanish rule began in the Netherlands

not really Elizabeth's problem, but:

    • threat of Spanish forces very close to England
    • Elizabeth supported the rebel cause
    • assassination of William of Orange (1584) left the revolt with no obvious figurehead
    • 1578 => Parma's victories
    • secret Treaty of Joinville 1584

all encouraged Elizabeth to intervene:

1585 Treaty of Nonsuch - Elizabeth offered rebels support, money and troops under Leicester

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