Montego Bay Community College
History (Yr 2)
“Colonial rivalry was the MAIN reason for the European wars from 1650-1763”. How far is it possible to agree with this statement?
"As sources of wealth for their European owners, the colonies became as important a cause of war in the eighteenth century as quarrels in Europe itself. Commerce, colonies and power in Europe were vitally connected, and any limitation of trading rights or any blow to a colony was a method of keeping the rivalry down.”1 This statement gives rise to the fact that there was indeed colonial rivalry amongst the major empires of the 18th century in the likes of the English, Spanish, French and Dutch. One reason for this was that in the 18th century the measurement of a kingdom’s wealth was no longer in the amount of gold they possessed (bullionism) as it was in the 15th and 16th century, it was now based on the size of their empire (land) and the trading power held by their monarch. . With all the possible land in Europe already conquered there was a need for the Europeans to venture into other unsettled lands. So when the English, French, and Dutch saw the success of the Spanish empire after Christopher Columbus’ Enterprise of the Indies (finding the indies/New World), in the 15th century they knew that taping into her colonies was the only way to get to where her empire was. Spain was proven to be an unbeatable fore in the pre-eighteenth century rivals, because her source of wealth was not in Spain which was where the other monarchs were targeting and not her colonies in the new world. Some writers posit that it was the frustration of this continuous loss that led the other Europeans to consider the Indies in the first place, because Spain dominated the trading arena and it evidently became unbearable to her rivals. However this power would be reduced when they entered the 18th century as Dookan states “by the end of the seventeenth century… Spain had recognized the rights of the English and French to their West Indian islands; the way was clear for a new rivalry…”2 Wars such as the War of Spanish Succession (1702-1713), War of Jenkins’s Ear which later evolved with the War of Austrian Succession (1739-1748) and finally the Seven Year War (1756-1763) came as a result of these colonial rivalries. Although some reasons like the merging of kingdoms, severing of an ear, religious strife and to set up new settlements, these not the main reason for the European Wars, the writer declares that it was as Louis XIV of France himself stated that “the main goal of the current war is colonial commerce and the wealth it produces.”3 The War of Spanish Succession (1702-1713) was said to have begun because of the fears of the English and Dutch (Holland) over the succession of the Spanish throne. There was to be the union of the Spanish and French thrones from the ambitions of Louis XIV of France who desired the two monarchs to be under one dynasty. This merge would be by way of a marriage, which as Smith wrote was where the Anglo-Dutch duo, “made it clear that they would not tolerate the unification of Spain with either France or Austria.” They made their case on the pureness of the bloodline, and who was closer to the heirless Charles II, the last Hapsburg rule of Spain. However it can be questioned as to the real reason for their opposition to this merging. It was not the first time that two kingdoms were merging and so what was so special about this one. The answer is in the deal that was made between the English, Dutch and Spain. They were willing to consent in his accession as long as the crowns of Spain and France remained separate. The fact that the war begun after the asciento4 for the Spanish salve trade was given to a French company gives away the real reason behind the urge felt by the English to war against the Spanish empire, even bringing back together her alliances from the War of the League of Augsburg (1689-1697)5. The British...
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