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If Philip had died in 1584, his foreign policy would have been considered a success?

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If Philip had died in 1584, his foreign policy would have been considered a success? Traditionally Philip has been viewed as the aggressive 'Black Legend', a Catholic Monarch who, through foreign policy seeked to expand his lands and destroy Protestantism and heresy. He was greatly influenced by his father who even provided 'Instructions of 1543' stating that Philip 'should not give up one inch of territory'. This traditional view is a misconception and in fact Philip's foreign policy was less aggressive and more conservative in approach. Philip had both successes and failures in foreign policy throughout his reign. However it can be argued that during the period before 1584, he enjoyed more success in his policies. When Philip came to throne, Henry II of France was very much the aggressor. France posed a particular threat to Spain, since Henry viewed Spain to be in a vulnerable position after the death of Charles I and the arrival of an inexperienced Philip to take his place. However Philip's foreign policy with France was relatively successful. Philip realised the importance of ending the Italian campaign with France if he was to save Milan and preserve his credibility. Surprisingly France agreed to a five-year truce at Vaucelles in February 1556. ...read more.


This also allowed Philip to turn his attentions towards Northern Europe. It could be argued that Philip's foreign policy towards Turkey was defiant and honourable. However in reality he had been mainly on the defensive. Perhaps Philip's dealing with Portugal was evidence of his greatest success in foreign policy. His reactions to the situation could be regarded as opportunist, but in acquiring the Portuguese throne Philip showed considerable ingenuity. In 1578, Philip through marriage had a claim to the throne. The Portuguese King had died in battle, in Morocco and had been succeeded by an old great uncle, Henry who died in 1580. Philip had received support for his claim to the throne, from the Portuguese nobility and the church. He then decided to invade with 37,000 troops. From 1580 Philip ruled Portugal. He lived in Lisbon for three years and was careful to recognise and adopt Portuguese customs. In 1581 the Portuguese Cortes recognised him as King and he in turn recognised Portuguese liberties and allowed Portugal to remain a separate political unit with its own laws. His foreign policy in Portugal was undoubtedly a success. With minimal military aggression he had secured his position on the throne and become the most powerful ruler in Europe. ...read more.


Philip was determined to succeed and a further two Armadas set sail in 1596 and 1597 only to be destroyed by severe gales. Attack and counter attack continued as neither Philip nor Elizabeth could win the war, nor could they bring themselves to reach a compromise. The failure of the Armada caused problems since it encouraged the Dutch and English to counter attack. Before 1584 Philip enjoyed successes in his foreign policy. His most notable was his acquisition of Portugal. Philip was in a position where he was likely to be attacked by other European powers. Spain was Europe's superpower and therefore several European countries especially France and England welcomed any chance to damage Philip's position of power. As a result much of Philip's foreign policy was defensive. Although Philip went to war on several occasions, often losing as much, if not more land than he gained, he was successful in maintaining his hold over his empire. With the exception of Portugal, Philip did not enjoy any outright advances through his foreign policy. However, what he achieved was a continuation of Spanish power and authority. After 1584 however, his insistence on continuing his plans for an Armada were damaging. The Armada suffered heavy losses but more importantly it gave the other European countries encouragement. The continual attempt and failure of the Armada to demonstrate itself as a formidable power brought Spain's image of invincibility into doubt. ...read more.

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