The Armada and the Struggle for Succession in France: Exploring the Role of Violence and Resistance in Late Sixteenth-Century Europe
The late sixteenth century was a period of religious change and conflict in Europe, with the struggle for succession in France and the Spanish Armada being two key events. These events were shaped by violence, religious differences, and political power struggles. The ideas of ‘rights of resistance’ and ‘rights of revolt’ emerged during this period, as exiled communities grappled with the challenges of religious change and the powers of the state. Additionally, religious identities were manifested in ritual and liturgy and acted as markers for disputed doctrines. The laity’s taking of communion in both kinds was readily perceived as a symbol of the priesthood of all believers.
Table of Contents:
- Background: The Spanish Armada
- The Struggle for Succession in France
- Violence and Resistance in Late Sixteenth-Century Europe
- Religious Identities and Disputed Doctrines
Q: What led Spain to prepare for the Armada?
A: Spain began preparing for the Armada due to England’s growing piracy and support for Portuguese rebels and Dutch forces. While there was no formal declaration of war, Spain felt threatened and decided to take action.
Q: How did the English fleet respond to the arrival of the Spanish Armada?
A: The English fleet caught the Spanish force resupplying in Plymouth Sound and pursued them up the Channel. However, they only succeeded in causing the Spanish ships to anchor off Calais, where the English launched a fire-ship attack. This caused the Spanish fleet to be blown into the North Sea.
Q: How did the struggle for succession in France contribute to the country’s political turmoil?
A: The struggle for succession in France was further complicated by the fact that the heir was a Protestant prince, the Bourbon Henry, King of Navarre, who had strong support from Protestants. Meanwhile, the Catholic Guises, who were on the Spanish payroll, mobilized Catholic loyalties and led to media events. This ultimately led to a spontaneous uprising by Catholics against the king, forcing a new League municipal government to be put in place with a Council of the Union to coordinate its activities with other League-declared municipalities elsewhere.
Q: What were some of the ideas that emerged around the concept of ‘rights of resistance’ during this period?
A: The idea of ‘rights of resistance’ emerged among exiled communities who argued that resistance against established authority could be justified in certain circumstances. Jean Calvin acknowledged the possibility of intermediary authorities, like the Ephors of ancient Sparta, whose responsibility was to ‘restrain the will of kings’. However, he refused to accord any legitimacy to a private individual in revolt against authority. English exiles in the Rhineland, however, argued that resistance against established authority could be justified in certain circumstances.
Q: How did religious identities contribute to the political and social conflicts of this period?
A: Religious identities were manifested in ritual and liturgy and acted as markers for disputed doctrines. The laity’s taking of communion in both kinds was perceived as a symbol of the priesthood of all believers. Additionally, religion added meaning to nationhood, but people meant different things by it and deployed it in contradictory ways.
The late sixteenth century was a period of significant religious change and conflict in Europe, with the Spanish Armada and the struggle for succession in France being two key events. The rise of piracy and support for rebels and Dutch forces led to Spain’s preparation for the Armada, while the struggle for succession in France was complicated by religious differences and the political power struggle between Catholic and Protestant forces. Writings by various authors, including François Hotman and Beza, explored the issue of the limits of political obedience at a general level, leading to the emergence of the idea of ‘rights of resistance’ and ‘rights of revolt’. Religious identities were manifested in ritual and liturgy and acted as markers for disputed doctrines, with national consciousness being used as a way to spin out myths about a collective past in which the people collectively had a positive role. Ultimately, the late sixteenth century was a period marked by political and social change, with violence, religion, and resistance playing significant roles in shaping these events.