Explain the causes of the Dutch revolt.To what extent was Spain to blame for the outbreak of war with England in 1585?

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  The Netherlands had always been an important part of Philip’s kingdom, as the Dutch contributed much to the crown’s finances. However discontent amongst the Dutch were growing and they were often in conflict with Philip.

  Philip had appointed his half sister Margaret as regent of the Netherlands but never let her take any decisions. She had a close group of Spanish advisors and it was their advice rather than the Dutch grandees that Philip listened to. The nobles such as Orange resented this as they felt Philip did not understand them since he had left the Netherlands in 1559 with the promise to return but never did.

  Tension grew over religious matters as the Dutch grandees became more influenced by Calvinist ideas. As a devout Catholic Philip did not allow religious tolerance and wanted to stamp out heresy in all parts of his kingdom. As well as executing heretics, he also proposed reforms to the church system in the Netherlands. Cardinal Granvelle was made Archbishop but he was hated by the nobles. Eventually Philip removed him in 1564 and the reforms were suspended, but the relations were worsened with Philip seen as an autocrat who didn’t consult the people before applying changes. Egmont visited Philip to ask for relaxation of heresy laws, but Philip refused and ordered continual campaign against heresy in the Segovia letters. This led to open revolt of protestant nobles who forced Margaret to give in to their demands of religious toleration. Philip responded by sending Alva with an army, but he arrived at a time when disturbances were quietening. He acted as if there was a full-scale rebellion and established a Council of Trouble, arresting and executing rebels. This alienated even the original supporters of Philip and united the Netherlanders against Philip.

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  Discontent also existed over economic problems. 7,000 Spanish troops were garrisoned in the Netherlands and eventually the people refused to pay for them. When Alva arrived with his troops Philip decided they must be paid for by the Netherlanders. Philip raised taxes and although some were rejected, Alva tried to collect them forcefully anyway. This led to a tax stile and when ‘sea beggars’ invaded unexpectedly and captured towns in the Netherlands, various areas also rose in rebellion against Philip, with William of Orange joining in from exile by returning.


  Philip had and alliance ...

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