Ibero-Dutch Entanglements in the Seventeenth Century: Conflict and Collaboration in Global Perspective

Call for Papers


April 17, 2020—Department of History, Purdue University

West Lafayette, Indiana, USA

Ibero-Dutch Entanglements in the Seventeenth Century: Conflict and Collaboration in Global Perspective

Ibero-Dutch entanglements during the seventeenth century are critical to understand regional histories in the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and Southeast Asia. The political, military, and commercial conflicts among Spain, Portugal, and the United Provinces in the late sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth centuries have been well studied, including the intricacies of the Iberian Union (1580) and the way the Dutch Revolt (1568) against the Spanish Habsburgs extended overseas. While historians have examined these dynamics, they have paid less attention to the military, commercial, and diplomatic shifts that took place in the middle decades of the seventeenth century. At the center of this change was the end of the Iberian Union—a process that began in 1640 with the establishment of the Braganza dynasty in Portugal and ended in 1668, with Spain’s recognition of Portugal’s independence. This event brought significant changes in trans-imperial and inter-imperial dynamics. In 1648, Spain also recognized the United Provinces’ independence, gradually transforming Spanish-Dutch rivalry into a type of diplomatic and military collaboration that would have been unthinkable in the first half of the century. At the same time, Portugal ended the United Provinces’ temporary rule of Brazil (1630-1654) and regained its prized possession. The Portuguese victory over the Dutch further altered the diplomatic and political contours of their metropoles and overseas colonies. Entanglements between the Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch Empires thus contributed to major geopolitical shifts in the various geographic regions in which they operated.

We are seeking papers that explore different aspects of these shifting Ibero-Dutch relations in the seventeenth century. While political events serve as a breaking point, we are interested in papers that tease out transitions, transformations, and collaboration. In addition, we invite papers that consider the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and Southeast Asia or the connections between these regions.

The closing remarks will be delivered by Professor Wim Klooster, author of the award-winning monograph, The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World (Cornell University Press, 2016).

Click below for a downloadable CFP and details about submissions.


A Palace of Her Own: Mariana of Austria & the Palace of Uceda as a Satellite Court

The imposing building located in the corner of Bailen and Calle Mayor in Madrid was known in the seventeenth century by the name of the original owner. Don Cristóbal Gómez de Sandoval, 1st Duke of Uceda, the valido (a figure similar to that of a Prime Minister) of Philip III from 1618 to 1621, commissioned the palace in the 1610s. Don Luis de Haro, Philip IV’s valido for nearly two decades, became the second resident closely associated with the highest levels of political power. From its inception, the monumentality of the building and preferential location (three-hundred meters from the Royal palace and connected to it through a passageway), elevated the Palace of Uceda above the other noble residences. When Mariana of Austria (1634-1696), mother of King Carlos II (r. 1665-1700), made it her principal residence, the palace became a center of not just politics, but international diplomacy as it played out in the city of Madrid, the epicenter of the Spanish global empire.  

This project establishes Queen Mariana’s influence on the court of Carlos II, focusing on her activities in the Palace of Uceda, where she lived from November 26, 1679 until her death of breast cancer on May 16, 1696. Foreign dignitaries from the Holy Roman Empire, the electorate of Bavaria, France, and the Papacy, members of the ruling elite, and the royal couple frequently visited the palace. It became a virtual satellite court with lavish entertainments, political rituals, and theatrical performances, all symbols of power and influence. 

Mariana’s influence in the court of her son was very much in line with that traditionally exercised by queen and empresses dowagers in major monarchical European regimes such as France and the Holy Roman Empire. However, the dynastic configuration during the last two decades of Carlos II’s reign propelled Mariana and her palace to the very center of European international politics. The king’s two consecutive marriages—the first to the French princess, Marie Louise of Orleans (r. 1679-1689), and the second to the German-Wittelsbash daughter of the elector Palatine, Maria Anna of Neuburg (r. 1690-1700)—did not produce children. In the early modern period, when monarchies depended on dynastic succession for peaceful transitions of power, a king’s major responsibility consisted of securing the continuity of the government after his death. Without children of his own, Carlos II had to choose one of his relatives—his older sisters, Maria Theresa of Austria or Margarita of Austria; his niece, Maria Antonia of Austria; or his female ancestors, Maria of Austria or Catalina Micaela of Austria—to establish the succession. The relative he chose could be deceased, as Spanish laws allowed their rights to be passed on to their descendants. The selection was a very complicated legal and dynastic matter, but with major geopolitical consequences. The women’s marriages into powerful states—France, the Holy Roman Empire, the Electorate of Bavaria, and the Duchy of Savoy—threatened the continent with a pan-European war. In particular, the rivalry between the Austrian Habsburgs, a main contender, and France, a major military power, put the continent on edge. Although Carlos II, as the ruling monarch of Spain, had the prerogative to name his successor in his testament, it was clear that the ones excluded may not have been willing to accept his decision peacefully. The three Partition Treaties negotiated without Carlos II’s consent (in 1668, 1697, and 1698) indicate that war appeared imminent because of this problem. That the Spanish monarchy was the largest conglomerate of the continent, with territorial possessions spanning the globe, only exacerbated the situation.  

As the Queen Mother, former regent of the monarchy (from 1665 to 1675), and a Habsburg matriarch—a woman who was the mother, sister, daughter, and close relative to all the contenders to the Spanish succession—Mariana exercised an enormous amount of influence. In this project, I investigate Mariana’s political and diplomatic activities in the Palace of Uceda during this tumultuous period in the court of Carlos II and European international politics.


Spanish-Anglo, Spanish-Dutch Collaboration and the Making of the Caribbean, 1665-1680

Spain’s rapprochement with England and its simultaneous military collaboration with the United Provinces (the Dutch Republic) from the mid-1660s, deeply shaped the history of the Atlantic—particularly the Caribbean region. Based on over 2,000 diplomatic letters between the three powers from the Archivo de Simancas, Valladolid (Spain), as well as a plethora of maps, reports, and early printed books from several archives and libraries, this book project investigates the collaboration Spain established with the two Protestant powers and its impact on the Caribbean region. It all began with a change of regime in the Spanish court that elevated Queen Mariana of Austria to the government of the monarchy. She reversed the policies of her predecessor and late husband, King Philip IV (r. 1621-1665), forging a new path in Spain’s foreign policy. In 1667, for example, Spain and England signed the Treaty of Peace and Commerce, initiating commercial activities in European waters and reversing decades of conflict. It was followed three years later by the first treaty between Spain and England that pertained American waters: the Treaty of Madrid (1670). While Henry Morgan and a group of pirates invaded Panama in 1671 under the pretense of ignorance—the expedition left at the very same time that the documents of the treaty were arriving in Jamaica—threatened to lose all gains of the previous years, the Treaty of Madrid survived. It became the foundation for England’s permanent presence in Jamaica; it also resulted in the first legislation against piracy in England and subsequent, albeit gradual, elimination in the later part of the century. Other significant historical milestones, such as the resolution of the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674) that led to the permanent settlement of New York (previously New Amsterdam) by the English and Suriname by the Dutch, can be traced back to Spanish-Anglo and Spanish-Dutch collaboration. Spain had become a crucial military partner of the United Provinces as they faced a French invasion in their European territories. Taking on the role of mediator between the two allies, Mariana successfully and swiftly brokered the end of the conflict and in the process contributed to the settlement of the Caribbean region into the Spanish-speaking, Francophone, and Anglo-Dutch political and cultural divisions that are still in place today.    

Spain possessed the oldest and largest colonial presence in the New World and with Portugal, the monopoly to settle in new territories granted in the Treaty of Tordesillas (1493). Spain’s acceptance of permanent presence of English and Dutch settlers was thus a major historical milestone, one that gave way to a new era in Caribbean history. Nevertheless, the transformations in these important decades have been largely—and wrongly—attributed to the notion that the Spanish monarchy had entered a period of precipitous decline. This was not at all the case, however, as historians are beginning to recognize. Innovation and adaptation were behind Spain’s new partnerships, a strategy that contributed to the monarchy’s ability to keep the empire virtually intact and in more financially stable condition. Alliances that were unthinkable in the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth centuries had a lasting impact on one of the most fluid and contested areas of European colonization.