Talk:Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604)

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I was under the impression that Sir Francis Drake was executed by James I, and therefore could not have been killed in an expedition.

No, Francis Drake died of dysentery in the Caribbean in 1596. You may be thinking of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Are there books written about this entire war, not just the armada battle?

I don't think so. J.H. Eliot Europe Divided 1559-1598 (1968), although old-style and not covering the entire period, is still an excellent read and covers European aspects that most English language histories gloss over.

  • I believe Grenville's Revenge went down in a storm during the Azores battle, along with many Spanish vessels. And Drake and Hawkins weren't killed, but died of disease. I'll add a bit more about Ireland.--shtove 13:48, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Land campaigns[edit]

There should be more about the Netherlands, Calais and Brittany.--shtove 22:01, 30 January 2006 (UTC)


Considering that the outcome of the war was more favorable to Spain if not a Spanish victory, the picture of the Armada defeat atop the infobox will give a wrong impression to anyone who doesn't read the whole article. It might be better to use a pic of a Spanish victory or at least of a neutral battle. SamEV 02:00, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

By all means, providing such a picture can be found. Albrecht 02:38, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Best luck to you. :) SamEV 11:46, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Certainly the war was indecisive, but the spin put on the period after Gravelines to create the impression that England suffered the worst defeats is stupid. Comparing the Spanish Armada to the English Armada a year later and coming to the conclusion that they yielded similar results is similarly riduculous, seeing as how the Dutch and English actually managed to land a large invasion force on Portugese soil. The success of the privateering was much the same as it was before 1588 as well. The only item that marks it out as any different is the fact that two of England's leading captains died. Privateering was always risky, especially when the conducted in a region almost solely dominated by one power like the Spanish Main. Anyway, I see little point on relying on books with titles as unimaginative and narrow as this one: "The Defeat of the English Armada and the 16th-Century Spanish Naval Resurgence"

I didn't think anybody could come up with anything to argue back with. Do you know why that is? It's because the majority of people who edit the history pages of this website do not have the slightest education in the study of history. To you, the most important thing is national pride and so, as is completely self-evident, any logic or rationality is lost. I suggest you give it up because the more you persist, the more it will provoke similarly-minded people to do the same.

I'd not read your comments till now. I respectfully decline to give you any more of a reply than this. Good day. SamEV 07:06, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

The author of the above statements engages in name calling by referring to the points of this history article as "stupid". All too often, some people get upset if history is not portrayed in a strictly anglocentic point of view. Too much of our English language history is presented in a seletcive, spun, and even lied about manner such that the British are almost allways the victors and the good guys. But with the internet, those days are over. --Scipio-62 (talk) 14:45, 24 January 2008 (UTC)--Scipio-62 (talk) 14:44, 24 January 2008 (UTC)Scipio-62 07:06, 24 January 2008--

His tone was uncalled for. And yes, English history could be more objective, though I suppose this can be said about every country, perhaps. SamEV (talk) 02:19, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't agree. You can read many texts in which Spanish and French historians readily admit defeats such as Trafalgar or the Armada of 1588. Its very rare where I read of English language texts about British defeats such as Cartagena or the great exploits of French admiral Suffren. --Charles A 06:37, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Most wars of the time were actually like this one - weighing up the advantages and disadvantages gained is not easy and requires a very broad perspective. Originally the box showed the "result" as just the "Treaty of London". Then somebody put "English victory" - and so retaliation came by replacing it with "Spanish victory" - given that the Spanish won more battles and reinforced their position vis-a-vis the broader picture which included a determined attack on their colonial trade and colonies - the war with England actually favoured Spain but could hardly be said to be overwhelming and the article actually makes this quite clear. That said - it is not a straightforward thing to access and usually reality is like that - messy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:07, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Edits since 17/04/07[edit]

Not happy with all of these - will revert and edit them over the weekend. Any objections?--Shtove 20:42, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

I removed stuff from the intro - some of it was tendentiously in favour of Spain, and the rest is treated in the article in a balanced manner.
Improvements needed: the background section stretches back too far, there should be brief accounts of the 1588 Armada, of the campaigns in the Netherlands, Normandy and Brittany, and of the terms of the 1604 treaty.--Shtove 21:51, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

Portugal on Spanish Side[edit]

I think Portugal should be included as ally of Spain in the war box, as it happened.Câmara 14:21, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 05:27, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

== Who won this war?S Did England win? --?.  The great Darren shan fan  20:02, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

No. England did not win and did not rule the waves as many Anglocentic history books so wrongfully asserted. When king James I ascended to the English throne in 1603, he quickly realized that the war was a fruitless enterprise and thereafter signed the peace treaty of 1604 with the Spanish with terms favorable to Spain. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Scipio-62 (talkcontribs) 14:41, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Somebody had the temerity to insert that the Spanish navy "some success" in defending the treasure fleets (after 1588) in the introductory section. One of the primary reasons for this war was English desire for that treasure. Now people will point to the burning of the treasure fleet at Cadiz by the Spanish themselves in 1596 as a "failure" but it was in fact a premeditated succesful defensive move - the ship were relatively slow moving galleons bullt that way for long oceanic voyages of cargoes - and not just treasure. In the ocean they were tough to take on, but in harbour they were vulnerable to faster moving vessels designed exclusively for war. The commander of the treasure fleet was no fool so he sank them where their precious cargoes could be recovered easily later. The vessels themselves were just that, expendable vessels. The Anglo-Dutch fleets goal was to sieze the treasure - it failed and the expedition ended up sapping the English war effort instead of helping it.

Another thing worth mentioning is that England could ill afford to continue the war with Spain. Up until that time, England had not developed colonies in the new world to nearly the same extent as Spain. In order to for England to develop it's new world colonies and expand her empire, she had to make peace with Spain. Which is why King James I wisely decided to make peace with Spain in 1604 rather than continue the crazed bankrupting policies of that foolish Queen Elizabeth that got England nowhere.--Charles A 23:04, 13 March 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Scipio-62 (talkcontribs)

Got England nowhere? You mean aside from securing Independence from The Pope and Catholic Spain? — Preceding unsigned comment added by PlentifulOnions (talkcontribs) 16:07, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Did Spain "win"?[edit]

No. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PlentifulOnions (talkcontribs) 16:05, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Surely a Spanish victory would have been to conquer England. I think it would make more sense to have the result in the infobox to just refer to the Treaty and let readers decide who "won". Or maybe say the result was inconclusive and refer to the treaty. John Smith's (talk) 20:52, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Not necessarily- this was a complex and evolving matter. It was not only about religion, but trade and colonies as well as balance of power politics. For an interesting discussion on the matter follow the external link to Wes Ulm's article. Its worth the read. I preferred it when the info box merely showed the result as "Treaty of London", this was the status quo for a long time, then somebody put English Victory (!) and of course that was replaced soon after with Spanish victory, which seems more deserved but with strong qualifications. But I think it is best returned to as it was originally. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:26, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

I think we should put as result : Treaty of London (terms favorable to Spain)

because many anglo-saxons believe this was a english victory (NOT!!)--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 18:55, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

I would leave it as indecisive. It's true that the terms of the treaty were generally favorable to Spain, but on the other hand, the mere fact that Spain was making peace with a Protestant king of England represented a serious concession on its part, given its foreign-policy aims at the time. Funnyhat (talk) 02:29, 24 December 2008 (UTC)
First let me make clear that England (not Spain) sued for peace. Since the Treaty of London article says the terms were favorable to Spain i think its deserved to portray it as such in this article, in fact the war was a Spanish victory if you count the battles and outcomes. Let's take a look at the Spanish Armada of 1588, it failed and two more armadas were ready the next year. Now lets look at the English Armada of 1589, it failed and until the next century (year 1625) no english fleets dare to venture into spanish soil (its important to note that in English Armada of 1625 received huge help from the dutch and again failed miserable, even with superior numbers lol--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 21:53, 6 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, using 'lol' in an argument really shows a non biased and educated viewpoint... even more so when you're using an example from 1625, twenty years after the war ended. Spain and England both failed in their aims - though England retained Protestantism, counter to the central Spanish aim. Clearly, the Spanish lost in the short term AND in the long term - Spanish decline took it from being one of (maybe even the) most powerful countries in the world to... well, an also ran, all over by 1700! But hey, keep this as a Spanish win if you like, cheer a win from over 4 hundred years ago where the central aim wasn't even achieved! We all know Spanish history is desperately short of wins so you should take any chance you get - now THAT is worth a 'lol'
Well, taken into account that Spain was, for several centuries, and with "desperate shortage of wins", one of the (or the) most important power in the world THAT is an unbeatable achievement! No wins but rule for centuries! Wow! When so many are so desperate to convince the world that they beat the Spanish, or that they were not beaten by them, is a clear evidence that shows how great and important has been Spain in history.

State what you may, but it is a historical fact that Sir Walter Raleigh was executed at the request of the Spanish Ambassador to England. Raleigh was executed because he attacked a Spanish colony in Venesuela in violation of the 1604 peace treaty. I ask this, why would those "almighty powerful" English execute one of their great heroes for fear of risking another war with the Spanish? I've read accounts that King James had some "love of the Spanish", but that is just anglocentric rubbish. King James was a practical man and he knew that starting another war against the Spanish would be foolish and thats why Raleigh lost his head.--Charles A 20:40, 9 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Scipio-62 (talkcontribs)

It is true that it wasnt until Oliver Cromwell that the English navy was made into a very effective fighting force, capable of beating many fleets. ALthough after he died it went down hill again.... Oh by the way EuroHistoryTeacher that "no english fleets dare to venture into spanish soil" was probably wise.... I always thought ships were suppossed to be on the sea!Willski72 (talk) 10:46, 28 May 2009 (UTC)


Whether the English Armada was Smaller or Bigger ? Please verify it and change it in the Article accordingly. Abdul raja (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 14:12, 9 November 2011 (UTC).

Citation needed[edit]

There are only four citations in this entire, rather long, article. Entire paragraphs of opinion are presented with no citation or justification, in particular the 'effects' section but also others. I have also removed the uncited claim for the war being a Spanish victory. I do not think this is an opinion widely held by historians, so I have left just the specific effects of the Treaty of London. (talk) 18:58, 27 February 2012 (UTC)


"Philip and the Catholic Church considered Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic cousin of Elizabeth's, to be the rightful Queen of England. In 1567, Mary was imprisoned and forced to abdicate the Scottish throne in favour of her infant son, James. Thereafter she fled to England, where Elizabeth had her imprisoned. Over the next two decades, opponents of Elizabeth and James continually plotted to have Mary placed on the throne of one or both kingdoms."

Removed this for a few reasons. Firstly it isn't true that Mary was forced to abdicate. Elizabeth never named a succession and Mary therefore remained heir presumptive until the moment she was executed. Secondly there is no evidence Philip would consider Mary a preferable ruler to Elizabeth. Indeed Philip protected Elizabeth from excommunication until 1568 (Spanish loan seizure) and even attempted to marry her. It is also of note that Mary was essentially French and a close tie between England and France could prove disastrous for Spain as it would produce a power block capable of directly confronting the Spanish Empire. Lack of Spanish support can be seen through the 1571 Ridolfi Plot in which Spanish support for regime change was non existent. — Preceding unsigned comment added by THKH (talkcontribs) 15:51, 7 June 2012 (UTC)

Moderating concluding statements on the conflict[edit]

Both sides seem to be overstating the financial devastation of the war for England and Spain alike and likewise overstating the level to which it contributed to the decline (or ascendancy) of either. On the financial side, yes James I in England inherited a debt of roughly £400,000, and as John Guy in particular has discussed in his treatments, there were further less obvious financial obligations left-over from Elizabeth I's reign to fund the war effort, such as the sale of offices to wealthy nobles and the sales of the royal lands themselves. Although this burden was hardly helpful at the start of the Stuart period, it was hardly devastating either. Henry VII had inherited crippling debts and a war-torn England at the start of the Tudor period, devastated by the Wars of the Roses, but was able to bring the country back to solvency in good order, so there is no reason that the early Stuarts should have been handicapped by comparison. Also much of England's hardship and financial pressure in the early 1600's came about due to poor harvests and epidemics, which cannot be blamed on the war.

Likewise for Spain. Yes, Spain during the war had taxation and revenue problems with increasing dependence on the bankers from Genoa and other centres. But as Geoffrey Parker and other period historians have made clear, Spain's issues with solvency had already been severe decades before the war with England, with a failure to collect and manage revenues from regions outside Castile. Also the problem was especially exacerbated, ironically, by Spain's imperial gains, through uncontrolled inflation and currency fluctuations due to increasing imports of New World silver. And like England, Spain's position was further aggravated by poor harvests and a plague at the turn of the century, likewise factors that cannot be causally connected to the war. Yet as with England, Spain's financial position, whilst imperiled, was hardly crippling- Parker himself, in Europe in Crisis 1598–1648, makes it clear that 17th c. Spain ironically had less in the way of tax and other financial revolts compared to European peers. New World silver and other trading goods, despite the distortions to Spain's economy, continued to flow in and fund Spanish expeditions through the 17th c., even as the Dutch began to wrest away sea supremacy by mid-century. And despite the failure of reforms and general poor management by Philip III, Spain continued to find the resources to administer overseas colonies and militarily defeat enemies (for example Cadiz in 1625) in major engagements through the 1620's and after.

Same issue with overstating the balance-of-power impact on either side. England's ambitions were certainly hindered, but in no way devastated by the costs and burdens of the war when the treaty was signed in 1604. England's maritime trade, both in the North Sea and the trans-Atlantic trade, increased at a regular pace. And although the Stuarts obviously encountered financial and constitutional crises in the subsequent decades, it is contentious to lay these principally at the feet of the Anglo-Spanish War in 1604. By most even-handed measures of national performance, England continued to gain economic and geopolitical importance in the Stuart period that followed the war.

Likewise, again, for Spain. It is far too contentious to assign a causal importance to the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585-1604 in Spain's perceived decline many decades into the 17th century. It is indeed fair and accurate to state that Spain's colonial monopoly (or Spanish claims to it) could not be asserted in the 1600's, and that ships from rival countries- France as well as England and the Netherlands- would carry on an increasing share of the trans-Atlantic trade. However, claims of a decline are too easily countered by indicators of ongoing and even increasing strength that lasted well into mid-century. Whilst Spain's overall share of the trans-Atlantic trade declined, the country's overall trade and shipping still very much grew esp. under Philip IV and remained by far the most dominant of the European powers. Spain under Philip IV was also unequivocally successful in defeating England's attempt to invade Cadiz in 1625, and to capture Breda the same year despite fierce resistance by English and Dutch soldiers, then to launch a successful naval offensive to capture St. Kitts from the English and French a few years later. Spain's military and tactical management thus brought about crushing victories over all major rivals less than three decades after the Treaty of London in 1604. Note this achievement came about despite the continuing failure of Spanish financial and political reforms by both Philip III and Philip IV in the intervening decades, as well as further damage to Spain's position from corruption, general fiscal mismanagement, commercial competition and inflation. Even after defeat by France at Rocroi and Netherlands at the Downs- which occurred many decades after 1604- Spain continued to be a powerful rival to both, and as shown by Spanish victories in for example War of Jenkins Ear, also remained a constant thorn in the side of the English navy well into the following century. So even making such a strong claim as that of Spanish decline decades into the 1600's is highly debatable at best, leave alone identifying the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585-1604 as a proximate cause of such a questionable conclusion. (Notably, England's reversals in the 1620's battles were in fact a proximate cause of the English Civil War, something that did not happen in Spain.)

I therefore think it most advisable to refrain from making strongly-worded conclusions about financial impact or geopolitical balance-of-power in the aftermath of the war and the Treaty of London, as there is too little in the way of evidence or consensus for that in the case of either country. Both encountered financial hardships which nonetheless were not new, not crippling and did not precipitate severe crises which clearly had more easily identifiable proximate and underlying causes. Likewise, the geopolitical balance of power remained very much in flux for both countries after 1604, and given Spain's military and economic dominance well into the 17th c., by some measures even increasing, it is too contentious to assert importance of the 1585-1604 war in causing Spanish decline or even to assert such decline at all. Best to simply focus on the specifics and finish with a balanced statement of the challenges and the conflicts that followed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by NDelhier (talkcontribs) 06:08, 10 July 2012 (UTC)

Many of your claims are plausible. The problem with changing the text while keeping the original references is that it creates a false impression that your changes are supported by the cited source. If you have an alternative perspective, support it with another reliable source. Otherwise, you run a risk of misrepresentation. Lachrie (talk) 08:05, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
This article starts off with Philip worried about what was going on in England in the 1560s, just as he was undoubtedly worried about what was happening in France and the Holy Roman Empire with these new fangled heresies, and then there were the expansive Ottomans to worry about. But his main concern was always the troubles in his own territories, the Netherlands and this war was an annex to that. I think the only way to get this article into some order is to strip it down to the basics, just tell the events of this war, and drop the aftermath, otherwise somebody is soon going to explain how this war caused D-Day. Provocateur (talk) 09:43, 1 June 2013 (UTC)