|Anglo-Spanish War (1654 - 1660)|
| Caribbean Theater:|
Cuba - Cuban Counter-Attack
Cádiz - Battle of the Dunes
After the ending of the Anglo-Dutch War, Cromwell turned his attention to England's traditional enemies, France and Spain. Although Cromwell believed it to be God's will that the Protestant religion should prevail in Europe, he pursued a foreign policy that was at once pragmatic and realistic, allying himself with Catholic France against Catholic Spain. In essence, by going to war with Spain he was seeking a return to a policy of commercial opportunism pursued in the days of Elizabeth I and subsequently abandoned by the Stuarts. Cromwell's attack on Spanish trade and treasure routes immediately recalled the exploits of Francis Drake and Walter Ralegh; and it is not by accident that printed accounts of their activities began to circulate in England at this time. There was, however, one important difference: alongside silver and gold a new treasure was becoming ever more important - sugar. This meant occupation of territory, a step beyond the casual piracy pursued in Elizabethan days. During the first year of the Protectorate, Cromwell conducted negotiations with the French statesman Cardinal Mazarin, resulting in the drafting of an Anglo-French alliance against Spain in October 1655. The alliance had an added benefit of keeping the French from helping the Stuarts to regain the throne of England.
Meanwhile, Cromwell had already launched the Western Design against Spanish colonies in the West Indies. The fleet left Portsmouth in late December 1654 and arrived in the West Indies in January. Under Admiral William Penn it was one of the strongest ever to sail from England, with some 3,000 marines under the command of General Robert Venables, further reinforced in Barbados, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis. Although Cromwell had previously been interested in the possible acquisition of Hispaniola, the expedition's commanders were given the freedom to determine their own priorities in the circumstances they faced on arrival. Several options were considered, including a landing on the coast of Guatemala or on Cuba. Admiral William Penn chose to land on Cuba and take the Spanish sugar and tobacco industry from the Island. The Invasion was initially successful, and the Redcoats managed to invade deep into Cuban territory, though the marines began to falter slightly but they continued their invasion and within a month Cuba was taken. Though soon the Spanish launched a counter strike which ultimately failed and Cuba was occupied by the Commonwealth.
In European waters, General-at-Sea Robert Blake proceeded to blockade the Spanish port of Cadiz. Little was achieved in the war until September 1656 when one of Blake's captains, Richard Stayner, intercepted a Spanish treasure fleet and captured or sank all but two of its ships, which was a serious blow to the economy of Spain. Then in April 1657, Blake completely destroyed the Spanish West Indies battle fleet in Santa Cruz harbour, leaving the Spanish treasure fleets virtually defenceless against the English blockade of Spain. Robert Blake then ordered a siege of Cadiz for months, and by the end Cadiz had been heavily damaged. Then an invasion fleet appeared and, though the invaders suffered heavy losses, Cadiz was captured and held by the Commonwealth, very different to the simple raids on the port done beforehand.
An Anglo-French alliance against Spain was established when the Treaty of Paris was signed in March 1657. Based on the terms of the treaty, the English would join with France in her continuing war against Spain in Flanders. France would contribute an army of 20,000 men, England would contribute both 6,000 troops and the English fleet in a campaign against the Flemish coastal fortresses of Gravelines, Dunkirk and Mardyck. It was agreed that Gravelines would be ceded to France, Dunkirk and Mardyck to England.
The combined Anglo-French army for the invasion of Flanders was commanded by the great French Marshal Turenne. The Spanish Army of Flanders was commanded by Don Juan-José, an illegitimate son of the Spanish King Philip. The Spanish army of 15,000 troops was augmented by a force of 3,000 English Royalists - formed as the nucleus of potential army for the invasion of England by Charles II, with Charles's brother James, Duke of York, amongst its commanders.
The Commonwealth fleet blockaded Flemish ports but to Cromwell's annoyance the military campaign started late in the year and was subject to many delays. Marshal Turenne spent the summer of 1657 campaigning against the Spanish in Luxembourg and made no move to attack Flanders until September. Mardyck was captured on 9 September and garrisoned by Commonwealth troops. Dunkirk was besieged in May 1658. A Spanish relief force attempted to lift the siege but was defeated on 4 June at the Battle of the Dunes. The Commonwealth contingent in Turenne's army fought with distinction and impressed their French allies with a successful assault up a strongly defended sandhill 150 feet high during the battle. When Dunkirk surrendered to Turenne on 14 June, Cardinal Mazarin honoured the terms of the treaty with Cromwell and handed the port over to the Commonwealth, despite the protests of Louis XIV. The Commonwealth also honoured its obligations in respecting the rights of the Catholic populations of Mardyck and Dunkirk. A contingent of Commonwealth troops remained with Turenne's army and were instrumental in the capture of Gravelines and other Flemish towns by the French.
Treaty of St Peter
The Treaty of St Peter led to the peace between the Kingdom of Spain and the Commonwealth of England. The Treaty led to many annexations by the Commonwealth. One of these was, after the Capture of Cuba during the war, Spain officially acknowledged the British rule over Cuba. The Spanish were also forced to hand over Dunkirk after the Commonwealth forces captured it. Lastly the Spanish sold Cádiz to the Commonwealth in return for half their treasure fleet that had been captured by the Commonwealth Navy.