Spain, Rumor, and Anti-Catholicism in Mid-Jacobean England
The Palatine Match, Cleves, and the Armada Scares of 1612-1613 and 1614
Geoffrey Parker has remarked that the Spanish Armada, though a disastrous defeat, was a considerable psychological success. Deep into the seventeenth century the specter of a returning armada haunted England. Twice in the middle of James I’s reign alarms occurred. One grew out of the king’s plan, opposed by Spain, to marry his daughter Elizabeth to the Calvinist elector of the Palatinate. The other derived from a rekindling of the disputed succession in the Cleves-Jülich duchies in the lower Rhineland, into which Spanish forces intervened militarily, while England suspected the formation of a large Spanish-led Catholic league, seemingly bent on invasion, which caused a few days of panic in London. Both scares were based on misinformation and rumor, worsened by longstanding English anxiety over Spanish designs and doubts about the loyalty of English Catholics, the persecution of whom intensified. The latter scare occasioned the appearance in London of a satirical print, long thought in England to be lost, of James holding the pope’s nose to the grindstone, but a copy sent to Madrid by the Spanish ambassador has survived, and, reproduced here, preserves what appears to be the oldest known example of English political satire in the print medium.
Table of Contents
1. Deterioration in Anglo-Spanish Relations, 1611-1612
2. Growing Alarm and Fear in England: The Armada Scare of 1612-1613
3. The Palatine Wedding and Its Aftermath
4. Cleves, Spinola, and the Armada Scare of September 1614
5. Xanten and Beyond
Conclusion and Afterword
Calvin F. Senning retired as Professor of History from the University of Maine at Augusta in 1997. He previously worked as a contract historian with the War Department Historical Fund.