History 351: Seventeenth Century Europe 2011



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Olivares’ plans for reform

  • As a first step towards unification, he planned a Union of Arms (1625) which would create a single Spanish army financed by all the regions in proportion to their wealth.

  • Many of his plans failed (though the ruff fell out of fashion).

  • Aragon resisted the Union of Arms.

  • It was hard to reduce the size of the Castilian local bureaucracy as many offices had been bought by the office-holders, and the government could not afford to buy them back.

Olivares’ plans for reform

  • Despite Olivares’ efforts, people continued to think of clergy and students as having high status, and equated trade with low status.

  • To finance government, Olivares resorted to debasing the coinage by issuing vellón (base; billon) coins; this annoyed the Cortes and harmed the economy.

  • But the main reason why Olivares shelved his plans was that Spain went to war again.



Olivares and foreign policy

  • In 1621 the Twelve Years Truce between the Dutch Republic and Spain expired.

  • Some Spaniards thought the Truce should be renewed; but Olivares believed (rightly) that Dutch wealth had expanded greatly during the Truce, and he hoped that Spain could extract better terms from the Dutch, even if it could not reconquer them.

  • The Austrian Habsburgs were successful in the early years of the Thirty Years War; it seemed like a good idea for Spain to ally with them.

Olivares: Spain at War.

  • Spain had successes early in the war; in 1625 Breda was captured, and Bahia (in Brazil) was recaptured; the Dutch were also defeated at Puerto Rico.

  • Olivares’ motives: self-defense or world domination?

  • Turning points: death of the Duke of Mantua (1627) and Mantuan succession crisis (1628-31); Duke of Nevers.

  • Piet Hein captures the treasure fleet 1628.





1625: Admiral Fadrique Alvárez de Toledo leads a Spanish and Portuguese force which recaptures Bahia from the Dutch.

Olivares: Spain at War

  • 1630s: Olivares tries to get more financial and military resources from outlying parts of Spain and from Portugal.

  • Unrest in Catalonia, Vizcaya 1632; Portugal 1637; Olivares backs down.

  • 1638 fall of Breisach; 1639 Battle of the Downs – destruction of a Spanish fleet in the English Channel.

  • 1639-40: billeting of troops in Catalonia.

Olivares 1640-3: Crisis and Fall

  • May 1640: Catalan Revolt begins; later some Catalan nobles invite in the French; the Revolt divides; 1648 peace with the Dutch strengthens Spain, and the Fronde weakens France; plague strikes Catalonia ealry 1650s; Philip IV promises easy terms and Barcelona surrenders 1652.

  • Portugal: 1630 Dutch capture Pernambuco in Brazil; Spain fails to recapture it 1640.

  • Portuguese resent exclusion from Spanish America, and high taxation and use of Inquisition against those merchants who do trade there.

Coin of Louis XIII as Count of Barcelona, 1642

Olivares: 1640-3: Crisis and Fall

  • Portuguese hope that if they split from Spain, Dutch will stop attacking Brazil.

  • Portuguese resent efforts of Olivares’ to use their resources in Dutch War.

  • December 1640: Portugal revolts; allies with France.

  • 1643: Fall of Olivares; d. 1645.





Portugal becomes independent

  • 1640: John Duke of Braganza becomes King John (João) IV of Portugal.

  • Dutch continue attacking Portuguese possessions and capture Luanda (Angola) 1641; but Portugal recaptures it 1648, and drives Dutch from Brazil 1654.

  • Portugal deserted by French 1659, but allies with England 1661; they decisively defeat Spain 1665 (Villaviciosa), and Spain recognizes Portugal’s independence 1668.

France 1589-1643: Outline

  • (1) Henry IV (1553/89-1610) and the end of the Religious Wars: Nantes and Vervins.

  • (2) The reforms of Sully.

  • (3) The minority of Louis XIII (1601/10-43) 1610-17: Marie de’ Medici and Concini.

  • (4) Charles d’Albert, Duke of Luynes (1617-21).

  • (5) Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal and Duke of Richelieu: (A) rise to power 1614-24; (B) domestic policy; (C) foreign policy and reason of state.

Henry IV and the End of the Wars of Religion

  • 1559: death of Henry II (Valois) of France; he was succeeded in turn by his three young and ineffective sons.

  • Religious civil wars in France from 1560s, between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots.

  • 1572: St. Bartholomew’s Day massacres.

  • 1584: Henry III’s brother and heir died; the King was childless, so his distant relative Henry Bourbon, King of Navarre, became heir.

Henry IV of France (and III of Navarre); b. 1553; King 1589(/72)-1610

Pope Gregory XIII celebrates the killing of Huguenots in the St Bartholomew’s Day massacres of 1572

Henry IV and the End of the Wars of Religion

  • Henry of Navarre was a Huguenot.

  • Zealous Catholics claimed that a heretic could not become King of France; under Henry, Duke of Guise, they formed the Holy League (La Sainte Ligue) in 1585.

  • The War of the Three Henries resulted (1585-9): Henry III and Henry of Navarre fought against Henry of Guise and the League

  • Paris revolted and drove Henry III out, 1588.

Henry IV and the End of the Wars of Religion

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