Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Anglo-Spanish War (1655–1659)

Anglo-Spanish War (1655–1659)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: England (with French allies)
vs. Spain

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): West Indies, Canary Islands,
Cádiz (Spain), and northern France

DECLARATION: Spain declared war on England in
May 1655.

achieve dominance over Spain in matters of trade.

OUTCOME: Spain ceded much of the Netherlands and
suffered other losses to its empire.
England, approximately 21,000 troops, sometimes
augmented by French forces; Spain, widely varying

CASUALTIES: No overall figures available; Spanish losses at
the Battle of the Dunes were 1,000 killed, 5,000 taken as
prisoner; English losses in this battle were 400.

TREATIES: Peace of the Pyrenees, November 7, 1659

When the Puritans, led by Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658),
took control of England following the civil wars, they
beheaded Charles I on January 30, 1649, thereby alienating
the crowned heads of Europe. Knowing that the Commonwealth
the Puritans established would have to fight
for its survival, the Lord Protector of England ultimately
made his nation into a potent military power. From the
start he understood he would have to deal with France,
which sheltered the Stuart pretender to the throne. And he
knew as well he would have to deal with the Dutch, who
were trade rivals in England’s increasingly important
North American colonies. But he hoped, at least in the
beginning, to strengthen his fledgling government by forging
an alliance with Spain, the enemy of his enemies. The
problem was that Cromwell remained a Puritan as well as
a lord protector. He took an unyieldingly hard line in
negotiations with the world’s premier Catholic power,
demanding extravagant trade concessions from the Spanish.
When Spain refused, negotiations quickly broke
down, and Cromwell dispatched an expedition to attack
the Spanish holdings in the West Indies. Admiral Sir
William Penn (1621–70) and General Robert Venables
(c. 1612–87) led 2,500 British troops in the seizure of
Jamaica in May 1655, thereby provoking a Spanish declaration
of war.
At this point Cromwell struck an alliance with France
for joint attacks on Spanish holdings in the Netherlands
and at Dunkirk. The Spanish-held Dutch town of Maardyck
was captured in the fall of 1657, and Dunkirk fell after a
siege during May–June 1658. This was the work of a joint
attack by the French under Marshal Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne,
vicomte de Turenne (1611–75) and the British
commanded by General Sir William Lockhart (1621–75).
The Spanish defenders of Dunkirk, a garrison of 3,000,
were soon reinforced by a 15,000-man army, which
included 2,000 English Jacobites—partisans of Charles II
(1630–85), pretender to the English throne and bitter
opponent of Cromwell. (The Jacobites were led by James
[1633–1701], duke of York, who was destined to be
crowned King James II of England in 1685.)
The culmination of the Dunkirk siege came with the
great Battle of the Dunes on June 14, 1658. The army sent
to relieve the Spanish garrison at Dunkirk established its
camp on the dunes between the beach and pasturelands
northeast of the town. Marshal Turenne attacked the
encampment on the morning of June 14 with 9,000 cavalry
and 6,000 infantry, including French and English
troops. Turenne managed the battle brilliantly, coordinating
his advance with the offshore tide and timed to allow
Turenne to carry out a flanking maneuver with his cavalry
in order to trap the Spanish land flank.
Starting at 8 A.M., the battle was over by noon. While
Turenne lost 400 men, the Spanish lost 1,000 killed and
5,000 as prisoners of war. Turenne then pursued retreating
Spanish forces. By the terms of the Anglo-French alliance,
Dunkirk was ceded to England. (Charles II sold it to
France’s Louis XIV [1638–1715] in 1662).
In the meantime, on September 9, 1656, British Royal
Navy captain Richard Stayner (d. 1662) seized the Spanish
Treasure Fleet off Cádiz, and during 1656–57 British
admiral Robert Blake (1599–1657) imposed a crippling
blockade on the Spanish coast. Then, on April 20, 1657,
he sailed his fleet into Santa Cruz harbor in Tenerife,
Canary Islands, where he sunk six treasure transports and
10 escort vessels and destroyed six forts. (Blake died on
the return voyage to England.)
Reeling from its losses in the Netherlands, the West
Indies, and along its own coast, Spain sued for peace in 1659,
concluding the Peace of the Pyrenees on November 7. Spain
had lost much of Flanders and relinquished some of its West
Indian holdings. Oliver Cromwell did not live to see this triumph.
He died on September 3, 1658, and was succeeded as
Lord Protector by his son Richard (1626–1712).


Further reading: John Lynch, Spain 1515–1598: From
Nation State to World Empire (Oxford: Basil Blackwell,
1991); A. R. Pagden, Lords of All the World: The Ideologies
of Empire in Spain, Britain, and France, c. 1500–c. 1800
(New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995).

No comments:

Post a Comment