Treaty of London (1604)

Treaty of London


Signed August 28, 1604 (1604-08-28)
Location London, England
Languages English, Spanish

The Treaty of London, signed on 18 August O.S. (28 August N.S.) 1604,[1][2][3] concluded the nineteen-year Anglo-Spanish War. The negotiations took place at Somerset House in London and are sometimes known as the Somerset House Conference.


After the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, her successor, James I, quickly sought to end the long and draining conflict. James was an idealistic practitioner of Christian peace and unity and also the son and successor to Mary, Queen of Scots, whose execution had been a proximate cause of the conflict. Philip III of Spain, who also had inherited the war from his predecessor, Philip II, and his treasuries had also been drained and so warmly welcomed the offer and ordered the commencement of the difficult negotiations that followed.

The Anglo-Spanish War had been a complex and fluctuating conflict that also had connections with the Dutch Revolt, the French Wars of Religion, and the Nine Years' War in Ireland. The treaty restored the status quo ante bellum.[4][5] It amounted to an acknowledgement by Spain that its hopes of restoring Roman Catholicism in England were at an end. Spain was compelled to recognise the Protestant monarchy in England. In return, England ended its financial and military support for the Dutch rebellion, ongoing since the Treaty of Nonsuch (1585).[6]

According to historian Kenneth R. Andrews, while the treaty secured the maritime lanes for the Spanish treasure fleet, English privateering had already devastated the Spanish private merchant marine.[4]

According to Fernando Martínez Lainez, between 1540 and 1650 - the most important period of gold and silver flux between the Spanish America and Spain - just 519 merchant vessels were sunken due to storms and other climatological issues out of 11.000 Spanish ships that made that route, only 107 ships were lost due to Anglo-Dutch piracy which means less than 1%.[7]

According to historian Germán Vázquez Chamorro who played down the English privateering attacks to the Spanish treasure fleet. The most famous pirates lauded by the English literature and propaganda used to attack fishing vessels or boats with small value for the Spanish crown,[8] therefore the Spanish treasure fleet lasted until the decade of 1780, almost around 300 years which the Spanish maritime lines were barely affected [9]

Following the signing of the treaty, England and Spain remained at peace until 1625.


English delegation

Spanish delegations

The English negotiated with two delegations, one representing the King of Spain, the other the Archdukes Albert and Isabella, rulers of the Spanish Netherlands.

Spanish delegation

Delegation of the Spanish Netherlands


  1. see Old Style and New Style dates: the date is brackets the Gregorian Calendar used in Spain but not Britain at that time
  2. Ratified by the King of Spain on and ratified on 5/15 June 1605 and by King James I on 19/29 August 1604
  3. Davenport, pp. 246 257
  4. 1 2 Hiram Morgan, ‘Teaching the Armada: An Introduction to the Anglo-Spanish War, 1585-1604’, History Ireland, Vol. 14, No. 5 (Sep. - Oct., 2006), p. 43.
  5. Paul Allen, Philip III and the Pax Hispanica, 1598-1621 (New Haven, 2000).
  6. "The terms, ironically, were similar to those that Philip II had sought prior to the Spanish Armada in 1588, namely the cessation of English intervention on the Continent and a renunciation of high seas buccaneering—which, in any case, had been delivering at best diminishing returns following the Spanish navy’s refitting in 1589. Spain had achieved many of its war aims but, like England, had nearly emptied its treasury in the process." Ulm, Wes: The Defeat of the English Armada and the 16th-Century Spanish Naval Resurgence. Harvard University, 2004
  7. Toca, Fernando Martínez Laínez y José María Sánchez de (2006). Tercios de España la infantería legendaria (5a. ed.). Madrid: Edaf. ISBN 9788441418479.
  8. Chamorro, Germán Vázquez (2004). Mujeres piratas. Madrid: Algaba. ISBN 9788496107267.
  9. Antúnez y Acevedo, Antonio (1797). Memorias históricas sobre la legislación, y gobierno del comercio de los españoles con sus colonias en las Indias occidentales. Madrid: Ministerio de Hacienda, Instituto de Estudios Fiscales. p. xxix.
  10. "The first item of James' agenda was to bring to a close the long standing war with Spain. This was done by the Treaty of London in August 1604. Its terms were flagantry generous to the Spanish, the first black mark against the new king. Moreover James, unlike Elizabeth, had every intention of honoring them." Burgess, Douglas: The Pirates' Pact: The Secret Alliances Between History's Most Notorious Buccaneers and Colonial America. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008, page 29. ISBN 0-07-147476-5
  11. Channing, Edward: A history of the United States. Octagon Books, 1977, v. 1, page 158. ISBN 0-374-91414-1


See also

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