The Habsburg Alliance

Relations with the Habsburgs were unsurprisingly strained after the atrocities of Mary's reign. The burning of the Protestant martyrs had been blamed on the foreign influence of Philip II of Spain (who at that time was married to Mary). Many, during the very early years of the reign, suspected that he might lead a Catholic force to reclaim England for the Catholic Church. The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (1559) had stirred up these fears even more. By its terms, which both France and Spain had signed, those countries were committed to destroy Protestantism abroad. Although England was a part of this treaty many still saw it as the beginning of an international conspiracy to destroy Elizabeth's regime. Philip II's marriage to the daughter of Henry II of France was thought to be a further step towards a Spanish- French alliance against England. It seemed that the traditional Tudor-Habsburg alliance, which bore such fruit under Mary, would have to come to an end. However, the fear caused by the possibility of a Spanish crusade against England led some people to conclude that an alliance was the only way to protect themselves from this possibility. Similarly, an alliance with the Habsberg Emperor - Ferdinand - would secure England from the possibility of a French crusade, the later not powerful enough to take on England with an Imperial protector.

To that end Elizabeth welcomed Spanish Ambassadors to her court, and kept on friendly terms with Philip II. In 1559 Philip proposed marriage to the English Queen. Public opinion, which was against having a foreign influence so close to the crown, meant that this could never happen but Elizabeth was careful to make the refusal as good-natured as possible. She did this by considering marriage to the son of the Hapsburg Emperor, Archduke Charles. These negotiations continued in different forms until 1567 when it was made clear that the religious differences of the two states ruled marriage out. This by no means disrupted the relations of the two countries, however. Despite fears in England Philip was more than happy to see Elizabeth's reign through so long as she didn't try to further the cause of Protestantism abroad. The fact that war broke out in the 1580's was that Elizabeth's military aid to the Protestants in the Netherlands and France was seen as doing just that.

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