France, Foreign Policy 1610-1661 Spain in the 30 Years War, 1618-1659 England under the Cromwells, 1649-1660

Franco-Spanish War, 1635-1659

A.) Prehistory of the Conflict

In 1621 Spain permitted the 12 YEAR TRUCE with the Netherlands expire and undertook another attempt to subjugate the Dutch Republic. After initial successes (conquest of Breda 1625), the war turned into yet another stalemate. In 1634 a Spanish army defeated a Swedish army in the BATTLE OF NÖRDLINGEN. The balance in the 30 Years' War was threatened and France entered the war.

B.) Part of the Thirty Years' War, 1635-1648

France, which long had interfered in the 30 Years' War by paying subventions to Hansburg's opponents, now tied up Spanish forces in the Southern Netherlands and sent forces through Lorraine into the Alsace to cut the SPANISH ROAD - the vital supply line connecting the Spanish Netherlands with the Mediterranean port city of Genoa. In 1643, the French defeated the Spanish in the BATTLE OF ROCROI, destroying the nimbus of the invincibility of the Spanish Infantry.
During the last decade of the 30 Years' War, the Spanish forces in the Southern Netherlands were sandwiched between French and Dutch forces. When peace was negotiated, France insisted upon Spain being excluded. In the TREATY OF WESTPHALIA, France gained territory in the ALSACE, thus interrupting the Spanish Road.

C.) The Later War, 1648-1659

While French diplomacy had intended to continue the war against an isolated and weakened Spain, the FRONDE in France again altered the situation dramatically. Competing factions emerged, with Prince Conde, the leader of one of them, entering into an alliance with the Spanish. However, the other faction under Turenne prevailed.
In 1652 the Spanish succeeded in expelling the French from CASALE (west of Milan, on Monferrato territory).
Turenne was victorious at Arras 1654, was defeated at Valenciennes 1656. In 1657 England (Oliver Cromwell) concluded an alliance with France, while the English Jacobites (supporters of the House of Stuart) fought on the Spanish side. Turenne won the decisive BATTLE OF DUNKIRK in 1658. The city of Dunkirk fell soon afterward. The TREATY OF THE PYRENEES ended the war; Spain ceded Artois and Roussillon to France, Dunkirk to England (Charles II. sold the city to France in 1662). Further, a marriage contract was concluded (Louis XVI. and Marie Therese, daughter of King Philip IV. of Spain).

D.) Legacy

While the military victory of the French and English was hard earned, the war overextended the Spanish financial resources. With the Treaty of the Pyrenees, Spain ceded to be a Great Power.

Französisch-Spanischer Krieg 1635-1659 (Franco-Spanish War), from Kriege der Neuzeit (Wars of the Modern Era), in German
Peace of the Pyrenees, from Columbia Encyclopedia
19 mai 1643 Le Grand Conde vainc les Espagnols a Rocroi, posted by Herodote, in French
7 novembre 1659, La Paix des Pyrenees, from Herodote, in French
Victoire Francaise a Rocroi 1643, from Histoire Militaire, in French
Rocroi 1643, from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Louis II. de Bourbon-Conde, Biography from The Adventures of the Bourbon Condes and Bourbon Contis
Klitterne (Battle of the Dunes), from Historiske Slag, in Danish
Henri de Latour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, Biography in Historiske Slag, in Danish; from Militärhistoria med svensk anknytning, in Swedish
Jean Bart, Corsair of Dunkerque 1650-1702, from The Other Side

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 26th 2003, last revised on November 18th 2004

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