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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

From which the trade with both the Indies was excluded


[Sidenote:

A.D. 1604.]

The ambassador of the Archduke and the Infanta, the Duke of Aremberg, was already in the country, but he was afflicted with gout and somewhat averse to transact business in writing; and nothing more than general assurances of friendship were exchanged. In October 1603 one of the Spanish envoys, Don Juan de Tassis, Count of Mediana, made his appearance. Astonishment was created when, on his entrance into the hall where the assembled Court awaited him, he advanced into the middle of the room before he uncovered his head. He spoke Spanish; the King answered in English: an interpreter was required between them, although they were both masters of French. But however imperfect their communications were, they yet came to an understanding. The King and the ambassador agreed in holding that all grounds for hostility between Spain and England had disappeared with the death of Queen Elizabeth.

After a fresh and long delay--for the Spaniards would have preferred to transfer the conference to some town on the continent--negotiations were first seriously undertaken in May 1604, and then after all in England. The affairs of the Netherlands formed the principal subject of discussion.

The King of Spain demanded that the King of England should abstain from assisting his rebellious subjects. The English explained the reason why the United Netherlanders were not considered rebels.

The Spaniards demanded that the fortresses at least, which the Provinces had formerly surrendered to the Queen as a security for the repayment of the loan made by her, should be restored to their lawful owner the King, who would not fail to repay the money advanced. King James answered that he was tied by the pledges of the Queen, and that he must maintain his word and honour.[318] The Spaniards on this started the proposal that the English on their part should break off their traffic with the United Provinces. The English replied that this would be most injurious to themselves. In these transactions James was mainly guided by the consideration that, if he decidedly threw off the Provinces, he would be giving them over into the hands of France, to the most serious injury of England, and without advantage to Spain. On this account principally he thought that he was obliged to maintain his previous relations with them. The English found a very characteristic reason for peace with Spain in the wish to restore their old commercial connexion with that country. The Spaniards were ready to make this concession, but only within the ancient limits, from which the trade with both the Indies was excluded. They argued that their government did not allow this even to all its own subjects; how then could foreigners be admitted to a share in it? Cecil on this remarked that England by its insular position was adapted for trading with the whole world, and could not possibly allow these regions to be closed against her; that she already had relations with countries on which no Spaniard had ever set foot, and that a wide field for further discoveries was still open. At no price would he allow his countrymen to be again excluded from America or the East Indies, to which countries they had just begun to extend their voyages.[319]

The peace which was at length brought about is remarkable for its indefiniteness.


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