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Elizabethan era, Counter-Reformation Europe


The critical early years of Elizabeth's reign witnessed a watershed in European history. The 1559 Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, which ended the long Hapsburg-Valois conflict, resulted in a sudden shift in the focus of international politics from Italy to the uncomfortable proximity of the Low Countries. The arrival there, 30 miles from England's coast, in 1567, of thousands of seasoned Spanish troops presented a military and commercial threat the English queen could not ignore. Moreover, French control of Calais and their growing interest in supplanting the Spanish presence in the Netherlands represented n even greater menace to England's security. Combined with these ominous developments, the Queen's excommunication in May 1570 further strengthened the growing anti-English and anti-Protestant sentiment of Counter-Reformation Europe. These circumstances, plus the significantly greater resources of France and Spain, defined England, at best, as a middleweight in a world dominated by two heavyweights. Elizabeth and her chief counselors eventually concluded that an imaginative foreign policy combined with an effective diplomatic system would provide the most telling and least expensive means of counteracting these worrisome developments.