Dutch token to commemorate the alliance with England and France against Spain in 1596.
The Triple Alliance of 1596, whose full title is Treatise of Alliance between England, France and the United Netherlands, was an alliance between England, France and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The Republic joined as a third party to a previously concluded treaty between England and France, but the alliance did not have a de facto effect until the Republic joined. By signing the tract, France and England were the first to recognize the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands as an independent state. All three parties in the alliance were at war with Spain. Attempts had been made to have German princes join the alliance, but they did not feel called upon to play a role in a war against Spain. Among other things, the alliance required states to maintain armies active with allies. The alliance only had effect for a few years.The alliance
England, France and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands had been in conflict with Spain for some time in 1595. In addition, there were other areas that were opposed to the Spanish's supremacy, such as some German states and some Italian territories over which the Spaniards had power. An alliance between Spanish opponents would therefore be a logical consequence.
France and the Republic in particular made efforts to form an alliance. The problem, however, was that an alliance between these two countries, without the addition of other states, would not be powerful enough and would have little standing. A third party was desired and England would fit perfectly in the profile. If England joined the alliance, several German monarchs might also join. Henry IV was reluctant to ask Elizabeth to join an alliance because it could be seen as a cry for help. The Republic, on the other hand, thought that Elizabeth should be invited immediately, because otherwise the chance of English support would be very small. Not inviting immediately could be interpreted as passing a potential ally.
The Republic also attempted to involve other, particularly German, states in the alliance. The reasons for this were that the support of England was not found to be very certain, after which the domination by France was present in the event of a possible withdrawal. In addition, the German states had many men at their disposal. The German princes were mainly focused on their own territory, through the struggle between Lutherans and Calvinists. Negotiations were started with Palatinate and Brandenburg, but the Emperor of Germany blocked the way to an agreement. The emperor was opposed to electing principalities in outside covenants, which could drag German principalities into mutual warfare.
Around 1595, Elizabeth I of England did not feel much called upon to form an alliance with the Republic and France. She was very apprehensive about the possibility that the Republic would grow into a great naval force that could become too great a competitor for England. Elizabeth saw the kingdom of France as hereditary enemy. Although she did not want to destroy it, she also did not want to help the kingdom grow into a world power.
In 1596 the attitude of Elizabeth I changed. This had everything to do with the conquest of Calais by Albrecht from Austria on behalf of Spain. Calais had been in English hands for about two centuries, until France conquered the city in 1558. Elizabeth I was eager to return the exclave. If that did not work, she preferred the option that the city was in French hands in favor of a Spanish occupation. Albrecht of Austria had besieged the city in April 1596. After a short siege he conquered the city, with which Spain had a port that could easily be expanded into a port of war close to England. In London, the fall of Calais led to an uproar. Henry IV relied on whether to accept Spain's offer of peace, but decided to let his choice depend on Elizabeth I. He informed Elizabeth I that she could help him fight Spain and if not, he would make peace with Spain. If France made peace with Spain, Spain could focus more on the fight against England. Pope Clement VIII, among others, was in favor of this scenario.
Elizabeth I decided to start negotiating an alliance with France. The Republic was excluded from these one-month negotiations. Two treaties were concluded. A treaty that was made public and an official treaty that was kept secret. The public treaty stated that England and France would not unilaterally make peace with Spain. To support France's fight against Spain, England would send 4,000 soldiers to France. The costs for this were advanced by England but would have to be paid by France at a later date. Four French noblemen were detained in London as surety. However, the secret treaty agreed that England would send only 2,000 soldiers to France and that they would be stationed only in Picardy, an area in which England had an interest. The difference in numbers between the two treaties meant that states that would join the alliance were willing to make efforts similar to those described in the treaty, when in reality England made fewer efforts.
The Republic was the first to be approached to join the alliance. France had sent the Duke of Bouillon to The Hague for this. Other states, such as Denmark, Scotland, several German and Italian states were also approached, but all did not go as far as the Republic. The Republic was willing to support other opponents of Spain in order to gain independence and also to oppose the overall domination of Spain in the world. Therefore, on October 31, 1596, the Republic joined the alliance against Spain. The Republic attempted to include an arrangement in the treaty stipulating that England or France should not make peace with Spain without the Republic's consent. However, this arrangement was not accepted by the other states.
"(...) to resist the enterprises and ambitious plans of the King of Spain, against all the Princes and Potentates of Christian Kingdom."
- Declaration by the Republic to join the alliance.
Subsequently, the German electors were again approached to join the alliance, first by France in the spring of 1597, then by the Republic in August of the same year. Maurice of Orange conquered Rheinberg from the Spaniards to render service to the German princes, but they decided not to join the alliance. Emperor Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire had made efforts to establish peace between the warring states since 1590, but in the eyes of the members of the alliance the emperor was very much on the Spanish hand.Effect
The English Queen Elisabeth I tried to get out of the agreements as much as possible. She especially wanted to support France that had to fight defensively against Spain, in contrast to the Republic, which had been offensive for a number of years. However, she was also the first to use the alliance. She had sent her main fleet to the West Indies, while Spain was building a new armada for an invasion of the English land. In 1588, Spain had made a first attempt, which had been barely repulsed. Because Spain had acquired Calais, this port could serve as a springboard for a new invasion. Elizabeth therefore asked the support of the Republic to build a fleet that could stop a new Spanish Armada. Van Oldenbarnevelt honored the request and immediately took a number of measures. For example, Johan van Duvenvoorde, who was a fleet admiral of the Republic, was sent to England to advise on the construction of the fleet and patrols on the Channel and the North Sea were tightened. In addition, it was forbidden to trade grain with Spain, so that the consequences of crop failures for Spain were even greater.
In 1596, the joint fleet of England and the Republic was able to defeat the Spanish fleet in the Attack on Cádiz (1596). The Anglo-Dutch fleet was led by Devereux and Van Duvenvoorde and led to the sack of Cádiz. The following year, however, the fleet of the Republic and England lost the battle against the Spanish fleet. Despite the loss of the battle, the Republic, with the help it had provided to England, had proved to be a nation that also had the necessary power at sea.
As late as 1596, the Republic benefited from the alliance. A request to send troops to England was granted. Francis Vere was sent to the Republic with 2,200 soldiers. France also sent troops to the Republic, but they could be recalled at any time if Henry IV deemed it necessary. This actually happened in 1597, when Albrecht of Austria attempted to relieve Amiens and Henry IV needed his troops to continue the siege. Due to the absence of Albrecht in the Republic, the Spanish-minded troops in the Republic had to rely on themselves, allowing Maurice of Orange, governor of the Republic, to conquer several cities.
Troops were also sent to France by England and the Republic, so that all participating countries benefited from the alliance. As agreed in the treaty, the Republic sent 4,000 troops to France, where, under the secret treaty, England sent far fewer troops.
In addition to all military commitments, the alliance also had another important significance for the Republic. With the signing of the alliance, the Republic was recognized as an independent state by other states for the first time in history.
The alliance between the three states only had an effect for a few years. France concluded a peace agreement with Spain (Treaty of Vervins) in 1598, rendering its part in the alliance meaningless. France had begun peace with Spain immediately after the signing of the alliance, without the Republic or England being aware of it. Although Henry IV had asked a Spanish envoy if a general peace between the warring parties was possible, the envoy considered it unlikely that Philip II wanted to make peace with insurgents who would not allow the Catholic faith. to negotiate peace with Spain, but it would take until 1604 to conclude a peace agreement, the London Treaty. This treaty stipulated, among other things, that England would no longer participate in the War between Spain and the Republic. Spain was also the last to attempt to reach a peace or truce with the Republic, including after the Battle of Nieuwpoort in 1600, but it would not be until 1609 before both states agreed on a truce.
Obverse: Warriors around an altar with the inscription: LIBERT PATR
Legend: COMMVNIS · QVOS · CAVSA · MOVET · SOCIAT (COMMON LIFE, COMMON ACTION)
Reverse: A soldier next to a pillar points to an attached inscription: ODIVM TYRANNIDIS (Alliance against tyranny)
TITVLVS · FOEDERIS · M·D·X·CVI (The Grudge 1596)
Below; the portraits of:
- Elisabeth 1, queen of England
- Henry IV, King of France
- Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, A Dutch statesman who played an important role in the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain.