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

By Frances Gardiner Davenport | Go to book overview

37.
Treaty of alliance between Portugal and France concluded at Paris, June 1, 1641.

INTRODUCTION.

In December, 1640, the Portuguese people, encouraged by a rebellion then proceeding in Catalonia, revolted against the government of Philip IV. of Spain and acclaimed the Duke of Braganza as king of Portugal, under the name of John IV. The unequal political union of the two kingdoms in the person of the Spanish monarch had been well-nigh ruinous to the Portuguese. While they complained of such wrongs as illegal taxation and the appointment of unfit officials, they seem to have resented even more bitterly the destruction of their naval power, commerce, and world-wide colonial empire.1 Their vast commerce, formerly protected by their traditional policy of peace and by their strong navy, had been ruined by their union with a warlike country whose enemies, Holland, England, and France, had usurped Portugal's trade and stripped her of her mostly undefended colonies in the Orient, on the coast of Africa, and in Brazil. Spain's indifference to the welfare of Portugal appeared, as the Portuguese thought, in the terms of the truce of Antwerp of 1609. The truce was limited to regions north of the Line, and left the southern latitudes, the seat of the principal Portuguese colonies, open to attack.2 The Spanish government also showed its indifference by forbidding the Portuguese access to the Spanish Indies, while it permitted Castilians to enjoy the colonies of Portugal.3

In spite of the fact that Holland, England, and France had robbed Portugal of colonies, it was to these countries, as enemies of Spain, that the new king John IV. naturally turned for aid. Early in 1641 he despatched ambassadors to Paris, London, and the Hague, as well as to Copenhagen and Stockholm. Support from France, at war with Spain since 1635, was already pledged. Richelieu, indeed, had fomented the rebellion and worked for its success.4 He warmly welcomed the Portuguese ambassadors, Francisco de Mello and

____________________
1
The "manifesto" of Feb., 1641, which sets forth the Portuguese grievances, is in Abreu y Bertodano, Coleccion de los Tratados de España: Reynado de Phelipe IV., III. 422-477. For the commercial grievances, see pp. 440-449, or Fernández Duro, Armada Española ( 1895- 1903), IV. 273-277.
2
The "manifesto" mentioned in the foregoing note refers to this grievance. For the truce, see above, Doc. 28.
3
G. Scelle, La Traite Négrière aux Indes de Castille ( 1906). I. 413, 474.
4
Commission des Archives Diplomatiques, Recueil des Instructions: Portugal, pp. xviii ff.

-324-

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