European Treaties Bearing on the History of the United States and Its Dependencies to 1648

By Frances Gardiner Davenport | Go to book overview

25.
Treaty between England and the United Netherlands concluded at Westminster, August 6/16, 1598. Ratification by the States General, September 20, 1598.

INTRODUCTION.

For some months before and after the conclusion of the treaty of Vervins,1 it appeared doubtful whether Elizabeth would make peace with Spain or would continue the war and the Dutch alliance. She urged the Dutch to conclude peace with Spain, pressed them to reimburse her for the sums she had spent in their behalf, failed to come to an agreement with the Dutch envoys who were in England from March to May, 1598, but in June despatched Sir Francis Vere to the Hague to propose negotiations for a treaty. Thereupon another embassy, which included the Advocate Oldenbarnevelt and Admiral Duyvenvoord, was sent to London. Elizabeth's councillors were divided. A Burgundian party, led by the Cecils, did not lack arguments for peace.2 The English could not endure to see the Dutch growing rich and powerful through the employment of their ships in the West India trade, and through their traffic with Spain and Portugal, from which the English were debarred.3 Peace with Spain would diminish the danger from rebellious Ireland. It was said that the war had become less profitable since Spain had learned to defend her American possessions.4

On the other hand, the war party, which included Essex and other supporters of the Dutch alliance, argued that Spain's peace proposals were deceitful, as in 1588; that the States could not make peace since this would re-establish Spanish sovereignty and Catholicism in the United Provinces; that England could not honorably or safely make a separate peace, since Spain would demand the cautionary towns held by English garrisons in the

____________________
1
May 2, 1598. See Doc. 23, last paragraph of introduction.
2
J. S. Corbett, Successors of Drake ( 1900), p. 233, remarks that after the treaty of Vervins, which secured the retirement of Spain from the Channel and the re-establishment of England's naval position in the Narrow Seas, "It cannot be wondered at if in the eyes of Burghley, who could never rise to an appreciation that the real struggle with Spain was for the new world, there was very little left to fight about ", and, p. 316, "That the struggle with Spain was really a vital contest for the commercial and colonial supremacy of the world [Sir Robert Cecil] never seems to have grasped".
3
Deventer, Gedenkstukken, II. 262; Letters written by John Chamberlain during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, ed. by S. Williams for the Camden Society, LXXIX. ( 1861) 11-13; cf. Motley, United Netherlands, III. 524, 525.
4
Camden, History of England, II. 606.

-239-

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