History : Jul-Aug 2018
62 JULY/AUGUST 2018 pastimes—hunting, hawking, and riding. But when Philip asked to marry Elizabeth, claiming he would take no less care of the affairs of “the sister whom I love so much, than I take of my own,” his reasons were strategic. After a long en- gagement, the heir to the French throne, Francis, had married Elizabeth’s Catholic cousin Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, cementing an alliance that threatened Spain as much as England. An Anglo- Spanish alliance seemed prudent. Philip insisted, however, that Elizabeth first abandon her faith—a step too far for the young English queen. Perhaps that is why she stalled and ultimately turned him down, making the Spaniard the first of many failed candidates to attempt to marry the new monarch. They nev- ertheless remained on good terms, but their re- lationship would deteriorate in years to come. Both Philip and Elizabeth believed that mon- archs were chosen by God. That God, however, was worshipped differently. As Protestants and Catholics fought all across Europe, the conflict L.RICCIARINI/PRISMA T HE REVOLT OF THE NETHERLANDS dragged Philip into a long war that would sap his resources, and leave Elizabeth strengthened. The picture above, a 1590 Flemish allegory, shows Philip riding a cow—representing the wealthy Dutch—whose resources are being milked through taxation by Philip’s ruthless commander, the Duke of Alba. Despite Spanish efforts to control and exploit the cow, the creature is willingly let- ting itself be led by Elizabeth to the right. Problems in the Spanish Netherlands, which Philip had inherited from his father, Charles V, began roughly around the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, in the 1560s. The region’s mainly Catholic magnates resented Philip’s meddling in their rule, while hard-line Protestant Calvinists chafed under the repressive measures of the Inquisition. In 1567 Philip sent Alba to break the power of the magnates and impose taxation and religious uniformity. Alba’s long reign of terror sparked a gen- eral revolt, during which Philip’s unpaid troops undertook frequent orgies of pillaging. The region’s many Protestant refugees became radicalized as pirates known as the Sea Beggars, who preyed on Spanish shipping. Despite the lack of social and religious unity among the different Dutch factions, they were greatly embold- ened by the spectacular defeat by Elizabeth of Philip’s Armada in 1588. By the 1590s Dutch independence was only a matter of time. Dutch victories had weakened Spain and provided Elizabeth with a Protestant ally across the North Sea. REBELLION “COWS” A KING GRANGER/ALBUM POLITICAL ALLEGORY OF 1590 SHOWING HOW THE NETHERLANDS REVOLT NUDGED THE BALANCE OF POWER IN FAVOR OF ELIZABETH.