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  • The Prince and the Infanta. The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match
  • Nicholas Tyacke
The Prince and the Infanta. The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match. By Glyn Redworth. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 2003. xiv, 200 pp. £25.00. ISBN 0300101988.

The author of this study concerning the failed attempt to secure a Spanish bride for the future Charles I brings to it an unusual familiarity with continental sources and a fresh perspective on early seventeenth-century English history – much of his previous work having been concerned with the Tudor period. Redworth is in addition a [End Page 416] distinguished Hispanist. All of which helps to explain his willingness to challenge current historiographical orthodoxies. Thus he writes of 'the Stuarts' commitment to an alliance with the Habsburgs of Madrid as evidence of a desire – and presumably therefore of a need – to find a counterpoise to the belligerent protestantism of many of their subjects, and that this serves as 'a timely reminder of the degree of alienation' between James I and the political nation. Moreover the abortive journey to Spain by Prince Charles in 1623 was, according to his account, a highly irresponsible act fraught with perilous consequences. At the same time, Redworth is adament that the fate of the Palatinate was not a primary motivation; more important were 'a young man's infatuation, a father's indulgence, and a favourite's determination to carve a position for himself in a new reign'. Here Redworth apparently sees himself as following in the footsteps of the great Victorian historian S.R. Gardiner and in disagreement with more recent accounts by, among others, Conrad Russell, Thomas Cogswell, and Brennan Pursell. (Whether Cogswell, especially, will relish being described in this context as a 'revisionist' is an interesting question.)

Redworth recognizes that the history of the Spanish match goes back at least ten years, to 1613, and even in a sense to the accession of James I in 1603 – driven in part by the twin aims of peace-making and eventual christian reunion on the part of the new ruler of England. But given his critique of Russell et al. a surprising omission is any reference to the work of Simon Adams. Thus according to the Adams model early Stuart foreign policy veered between the two ideological poles of puritanism and Hispanophilia, the latter also being linked with absolutism, and this in turn had domestic implication. Moreover we also know that in December 1617 there was a high level attempt by this same 'puritan' party to persuade James to summon a parliament, on the promise of a generous grant of taxation in return for abandoning the Spanish marriage project. Such matters are not, however, pursued by Redworth despite his citing some tantalizing contemporary references to the role of 'puritans' – described as such – by both James and Gondomar. Rather the book is mainly about the trip to Madrid itself. A particular frustration in this regard are the frequent references to a work edited by Redworth and entitled Gondomar and Parliaments, with an Edition of his Unpublished Parliamentary Treatise of 1621. Despite being cited as a 2002 publication, investigation reveals that this has in fact still not been publised over four years later! It may be that when Gondomar and Parliaments eventually appears it will supply the, at present, missing dimension to Redworth's argument vis à vis revisionist historiography. Meanwhile we should be duly grateful for the fascinating in-depth study which he does provide of the mutual diplomatic machinations of the English and Spanish governments. Redworth is inclined to award the prize for skulduggery to Prince Charles, yet Olivares comes across as a much more effective double-dealer in the long term. The charade ultimately played out by Charles in Madrid, going through the preliminaries of a proxy marriage never really intended, was born out of desperation, fuelled by fear, in the face of the collapse of all his hopes, whereas Olivares, chief minister to Philip IV, appears never to have believed in an Anglo-Spanish marital alliance and while ostensibly supportive worked actively behind the scenes to make it impossible – utilizing the papacy to this purpose. Paradoxically Gondomar, the evil...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-0206
Print ISSN
0264-2824
Pages
pp. 416-418
Launched on MUSE
2007-11-01
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2008
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