Sunday, July 19, 2009

John Dee & Edward Kelley & the Spirit World: Pt 5-Background

Acting against what he considered to be Protestant subversion, King Philip II of Spain (1536-1598) put his support behind the Catholic cause, which had been strengthened by the Council of Trent. Philip put at the Church's disposal the immense resources of the Spanish Empire, which from 1558 onwards were increased by the annexation of Portugal and its territories overseas. With the abdication of his father Charles V, the old rivalry between Spain and France led Philip to declare war once again on the King of France, Henry II; Pope Paul IV, who opposed any Spanish presence on Italian soil, supported the French King. Under the terms of the Treaty of Cambresis (1559), France retained Metz, Toul and Verdun, and recovered Calais, but had to give up its claims to Savoy, Italy and the Low Countries. Spain achieved supremacy this way on the western part of the European mainland. In 1565 it liberated Malta from the siege of the Turks. From this point forward there could be no doubt of Philip's dominant position. However, in 1568, fortunes changed for him. In the north Calvinism took root in the Low Countries. In sounthern Spain, the Moors, rebelled, while the Turks began a new offensive and captured Cyprus which had previously been held by Venice.

Philip II's first action was in the Meditteranean. In 1571 the Holy League formed by Spain, Venice and Rome destroyed the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. With the Turkish threat eliminated, Philip tried to subdue the Low Countries, which were supported strongly by England and France. With Queen Elizabeth 1 giving assistance to Dutch rebels, the attacks by English ships on Spanish possessions in America and also the execution of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, Philip II tried to invade England. The Spanish Armada, thought to be invincible, was to escort Spanish troops. The Armada's "invincibility' in the tradition of the ocean liner Titanic, centuries later was attacked by the English and destroyed by a storm in the English Channel in 1588. This catastrophe weakened Philip in his struggle against France, where he was supporting the Catholics against the Protestants. At the end of his reign, Philip signed a peace treaty with France and recognized its King Henry IV, despite his Protestant past. Philip II intended to rule the Low Countries as an absolute monarch and he fiercely suppressed Calvinism, which was spreading in the larger cities. In 1566 the Spanish repression sparked a revolution. A number of things gave rise to the revolt. The nobles were afraid of losing their power; the bourgeoisie thought taxes too high; and of course Calvinism exacerbated religious tensions.

The rebellion had its first success when Philip II had to dismiss the Cardinal Granvelle, Bishop of Arras. The nobles then demanded autonomy for the country and freedom to worship. Their doings stoked the religious fanaticism of ordinary people who had suffered a great deal from the economic crisis and they destroyed a number of Catholic churches. Philip then took measures that led to a general revolt in the Netherlands. Dutch Catholics and Protestants united under the leadership of William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, Stadholder or Governor of Holland and Zeeland. The rebels who called themselves Geuzen (beggars) seized Brielle and Flushing in 1572. The Duke of Alva, who had been appointed governor general of Holland by Philip was replaced by Don Luis de Requesens, who pursued a policy of religious tolerance. Then the Spanish soldiers, who had not been paid, sacked Antwerp and a general revolt began. The 17 provinces, Catholic and Protestant, united by the Pacification of Ghent in 1576, resumed their fight for freedom and autonomy once more. This time they fought the viceroy Don John of Austria, victor of Lepanto, who was unable to defeat the insurgents. Philip II's new envoy, Alessandro Farneses was a gifted negotiator. He managed to rally the ten Catholic provinces in the south by promising them political autonomy (the Union of Arras, 1579).

The seven northern provinces retaliated a few days later by forming the Union of Utrecht. The Low Countries were split in two. In 1588 the seven northern provinces established the United Provinces, loyal to Calvinism with the support of France and England, they won their independence in 1609 and were recognized by Spain when the Treaties of Westphalia were signed in 1648. The image is a painting of King Philip II of Spain of the House of Habsburg. Peace and best to anyone stopping by and I hope you are having or have had a great weekend! More on Philip II Here


Autumnforest said...

Yeah, and we thought America had a monopoly on revolting and protesting to get equality and rights, but it's apparently as old as time for humans to do so, we just lucked out to find a big enough chunk of land to spread out and be free instead of making piecemeal of a small country and its ethnic and cultural isolation.

Devin said...

You got that right Autumn!! Now in the early years of this century I just hope we can work together in time to work against the people who would endanger (and have endangered) our beautiful consititution and the freedoms we still have. Thanks again for your always insightful comments and your interest in this series!!