What was the Foreign Policy of Charles II?



The foreign policy of Charles II was marked by many outstanding features. The dominating position that England Secured in Europe in the period of commonwealth met its decline in the reign of Charles II.

Since Charles II came back to England with help of no foreign army, and foreign powers, he had obligation to none. So he was free to make a foreign policy of his own.

However in foreign affairs he followed Cromwell's policy of friendship with France and hostility to Holland. During the period of Commonwealth England had gained a respectable place in the international sphere. However after the Restoration, this glory and respect gradually vanished Charles II reduced the strength of the standing army, because the people disliked.

Only a portion of it was retained. Charles allied England Spain and on the advice of the minister Clarendon sold Dunkirk to France. Charles was always short of money. That was the reason why he could not maintain a navy. As a result of these developments, England came down in international estimation.

1. Relation with France:

Many factors prompted Charles II to follow the policy of friendship with France. First, France under her powerful king Louis XIV had attained an eminent position in Europe and Charles II cherished a hope that with the help of France would be able to crush the Dutch republic.

He further wanted to extract from Louis XIV as much money as he could to make himself independent of the Parliament. Secondly, Charles II and Louis XIV were the grand sons of Henry IV, the ex-king of France, and in this respect Charles II was the cousin of t. Louis XIV. Thirdly, his sister. Henrietta had married to the French Duke of Orleans who happened to be the brother of Louis XIV.

For all these reasons. Charles made an alliance with France and if there had been a French Princes of marriageable age it is just probable that he would have married her.

2. Marriage with Portuguese Princess:

Through out the seventeenth century, fear of war was a running sore. The princes and potentates were keen on commercial progress. Further because of naval rivalry also war could break out any moment. Charles II started his reign peacefully. He started by concluding a friendly matrimonial alliance with Portugal. He married Catherine of Braganza, daughter of the Portuguese ruler.

She brought with her a huge dowry and the territories of Tangiers and Bombay. Charles sold Bombay to the East India Company for a huge amount. Tangier was on the North African coast. This place remained under the British control until 1684; after the English abonden it.

This marriage had tremendous political significance. This position was like this. In 1580 Spain had won Portugal. Ever since, Portugal had been trying to be independent. In this process, France had
helped Portugal against Spain. Because of this marriage Charles could be friendly with France. And he exploited the situation to his best advantages.

3. First war with Holland (1665) :

This war with Holland had started since the time of the common-wealth and continued up to the time of Charles II. In the sphere of Maritime commerce, Holland was the only formidable rival of England. In 1660, the British Parliament passed the famous Navigation Act. This was one of the patterns the previous Navigation Act. By this Act, no Dutch could live in an English country.

Besides, the goods brought to England in Dutch ship would be heavily taxed. In Asia, Africa and in North America the English and the Dutch sailors kept on quarrelling between themselves quite frequently.

On the North American coast both the countries were laying out their colonies. The friction took the shape of an open war, between the two countries in the year 1665. In the war, England emerged victorious. However, the peace that came after the war did not last long.

4. Second Dutch war:

(1665-67) Even after the regular war, England and Holland continued to be the same inveterate enemies in the commercial field. For that reason in 1665, war again, broke out England was busy in tackling plague and a huge fire. Thus much intention could not be paid to the war by the English strangely enough, the Dutch were also in no serious mood of war.

Therefore, in 1667, a treaty was commented between England and Holland. As an agreement, Holland gave over all her colonies on the North American coast to England. The colonies were christened later as Now York and New Jersy.

5. Triple Alliance:

Louis XIV of France was fighting against Spain. France wanted to establish its sway over Netherlands. If France succeeded in its schedule of capturing, Netherlands, England and Holland both would have legitimate fears that France might cast its covetous eyes on their territories as well. Thus for their common defence, England Holland and Sweden con­cluded a Triple Alliance. The idea of the alliance was that incase France attacked Netherlands, these tree countries would take the field against France. In the end, therefore, Louis XIV abandoned the idea of attempting to capture Netherlands.

6. Secret Treaty of Dover:

In 1670, Charles II concluded a secret treaty with Louis XIV of France. It is known as the Treaty of Dover. By the treaty, he promised that when-a suitable opportunity arose he would make a declaration of his being a Catholic.

Louis XIV in turn promised to give financial and all other help to Charles II in case there was a revolt against him in England Charles promised to help France against. Holland in case of war.

7. Third Dutch War (1672-74):

Because of the Treaty of Dover, England had again to fight against Holland. The Whigs in England opposed the war vehemently. For conducting the war Charles needed a huge amount. He could get it only from the Parliament. Ultimately, Charles II was compelled to accept the Test Act and in 1674 Charles II agreed to end war with Holland. A treaty was patched up between the two countries-England Holland, the Eventually, France also concluded a treaty with Holland in the out year 1578.

Thus, thus there was nothing that was remarkable in the Foreign policy of Charles II and England during his reign ceased to be an important foreign power. On the whole passing through all the ups and downs of his life Charles II proved to be the ablest and in some ways the greatest of the Stuart kings. Every time he himself was looking to the terms of bargain that would suit to his advantages. Summarising his nature, the poet Earl of Rochester once wrote. He never said a foolish thing none ever did a wise one".