The Spanish Threat

Protestants feared a return to Catholic repression in 1623

BURNINGEngland’s fear of Catholic Spain and Papal supremacy stemmed from the excesses of  Mary 1st reign and exacerbated during the time of Queen Elizabeth by Catholic plotting to install Mary, Queen of Scots in her place and, the fearful memory of the planned Armada  invasion of 1588. English anxiety about Spain’s intentions continued after 1603 and there were several Jesuit plots to unseat James 1st in the early years of his reign. It was also known that Queen Anne was a devout Catholic who sought a royal alliance with Catholic nations. By the second decade of the 17th century negotiations commenced for a dynastic alliance with Crown Prince Charles and a Spanish Infanta. This was known as ‘The Spanish Marriage’  and move was deeply unpopular in England.

Prince Charles and the Duke of Buckingham travelled secretly to seal the treaty much to the consternation and disapproval of Parliament and the populace. After a year of fruitless discussion the frustrated English party returned home. It appeared Spain was demanding too much Catholic influence at court, total freedom of worship in the country and with full obedience to the Pope.

During this period of negotiation the English aristocracy feared Spanish Papal domination would be imposed leading to the loss of freedom of expression and the persecution of writers.  It seemed probable too that the historical and literary patronage of the Sidney-Herbert family would be lost.

Although the Spanish Marriage negotiations in the event failed the outstanding heritage of English literary culture was nevertheless preserved in the First Folio.

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