To what extent was England dominated by Spain and the serving of Spanish interests during the reign of Mary When Mary decided upon making Spain a close ally in 1554 through the marriage of herself and Philip II of Spain, she took special precaution to not give the superpower too much authority over England. Despite that Lord Chancellor Gardiner and the House of Commons petitioned Mary to consider marrying an Englishman, after they feared that England would be relegated to a dependency of Spain, this fear in many cases came true.
Philip viewed the marriage as entirely political and his second visit to England was clearly only due to wanting involvement in England, Spanish interests in England were helpfully reinforced through the marriage and Mary’s foreign policy, subsequently making England a Spanish pawn. However arguments to indicate that England was not dominated by Spain are also clearly noticeable, as Mary received her own advantages out of the marriage with Philip and assured Spain of the little authority Philip would receive through the terms of agreement.
The marriage between Mary and Philip which he viewed to be entirely political and leaving Mary to defer heavily on Philip allowed him to also enjoy titles and honours for as long as their marriage should last. All official documents, including acts of parliament were to be dated with both their names, parliament was to be called under the joint authority of the couple and coins were to show the heads of both Mary and Philip.
As well as Philip as a figure receiving authority in England, other advantages also lead to Spain being able to use England for Spanish interests. Involving England in the Hapsburg-Valois conflict, they made England into a ‘submissive satellite around the Hapsburg power’; this finally led to the loss of precious Calais for England after there was limited assistance in defence of Calais. Philips coincidental investment in the English navy led to huge advantages as he could consequently use this for his own benefit, and his communication with the Netherlands.
This could perhaps be seen as pre-planned by Philip and therefore strongly suggesting Spain was using England for its benefit wherever its interests lay. Other examples are obvious of Philip taking advantage of English involvement, and this can be seen at the Siege of St Quentin, where 5,000 Englishmen joined 70,000 Spanish. Philips forces broke through French defence and the English support was made to seem more important than it was, in fact English troops were not actually needed at all.
Overall England can be seen as doing exactly as Spain wished and Spain doing as they thought themselves necessary, the English cleared the channel for Phillip as he wished and Philip only visited England when he required England’s involvement, the marriage appeared completely one sided as Mary showed reliance on Phillip and heavily on Spanish advisors. Alternative views can also be noticed, as England received huge advantages through the alliance with Spain and perhaps gained just as much if not more than Spain had.
The marriage with Phillip increased Mary’s Spanish inheritance, Philip was heir to vast territories in continental Europe and the New World and upon marriage Mary became Queen of Naples and titular Queen of Jerusalem. It was obviously clear to Mary that she was in need of a husband and an heir, in this case Philip was providing both, he had already one son from his first marriage and this proved him a good breeder so subsequently benefited Mary hugely and her security in England.
Alternative support and security was also established upon the alliance as Henry II had strong Scottish support he was always a threat to England as he wanted Calais, however Mary alone would seem an easy target, but aligned with Spain she appeared stronger. We must also notice that Mary’s tactical approach to the terms of the marriage agreement left her in a very safe position. If no heir was secured or Mary died, neither he or his heirs would have any claim to the throne of England, Philip was to receive the title of King and rule as joint sovereign but he had no sovereign authority.
He could not promote foreigners to hold office in England but he must uphold the laws of England. Those in Spain felt that Philips honour had been disparaged and it’s probable that Philip felt the same, however Mary was left safe and secure with the ability to use Spain as she wished. Mary was able to secure England’s main commercial outlet with the Netherlands and could use Spanish help if necessary against political instability, overall English security increased hugely and the benefits were clearly noticeable, proving in fact England was not dominated by Spain and Spanish interests and Mary’s own interests were not left abandoned.
In conclusion, both arguments provide fair points and an equal understanding of advantages and disadvantages for each monarch due to the Spanish alliance; however the view that England was a Spanish pawn is a weak one. It is obvious England played along with the serving of Spanish interests but Mary still upheld authority and power, she only behaved to Spanish wishes to keep the alliance strong and secure. This did not necessarily mean that England was dominated and under Spanish dependency.
Mary had a necessity to marry and produce an heir, this was an expectation she was forced to follow, and subsequently Phillip filled this position and secured many other insecurities which needed to be attended. Consequently England possessed access to numerous things; Spanish inheritance, Charles V as an ally, England’s main commercial outlet with the Netherlands, access to Spanish Atlantic treasure and political stability. Overall England received increasing security and benefits from the alliance with Spain, proving England not to be dominated by Spain but using Spain to it’s advantage equally as much.
Courtney from Study Moose
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