Treaty of Joinville

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The Treaty of Joinville was signed in secret in December 31, 1584 by the French Catholic League, led by France's first family of Catholic nobles, the Guises, and Habsburg Spain. In this treaty, Philip II, King of Spain, agreed to finance the Catholic League. The aim of the treaty was to form a Catholic alliance against Protestant forces, notably Elizabeth I of England, in response to the potential succession to the French throne of Henry III of Navarre, at this point a Protestant.

In reality, there was little concerted effort on the part of either signatory to act against Elizabeth, as the Catholic League's position in France deteriorated as Henry IV gained support. However, Elizabeth was very disturbed by the nightmare scenario of a Catholic alliance between France and Spain against England, even if the prospect of which had been remote given the prolonged Habsburg-Valois conflict. She, for the first time, endorsed direct military intervention in the Spanish Netherlands. This Spanish territory was in the process of an uprising against Spanish rule; the Spanish response was a crackdown under a hardline military governor, the Duke of Parma.

Elizabeth's decision represented a complete reversal of her previous policy, which was not to support rebels rebelling against legitimate authority. Since, in turn, she might have become vulnerable to revolts from English Catholics, the new policy illustrated just how much the Treaty of Joinville alarmed her.

As a direct consequence, Elizabeth signed the Treaty of Nonsuch with the United Provinces in 1585, financing an expedition to the Netherlands, led by Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester of between seven and eight thousand soldiers. This was the catalyst for the war between England and Spain which climaxed in the launch of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

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  • Allan Keen (1999). England 1485–1603 (1. publ., reprinted ed.). London: Collins Educational. ISBN 0-00-327124-2.