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International Law and EmpireHistorical Explorations$
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Martti Koskenniemi, Walter Rech, and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.001.0001

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Between Faith and Empire

Between Faith and Empire

The Justification of the Spanish Intervention in the French Wars of Religion in the 1590s

Chapter:
(p.101) 5 Between Faith and Empire
Source:
International Law and Empire
Author(s):

Randall Lesaffer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.003.0006

The Spanish intervention under Phillip II in the French Wars of Religion during the 1590s was seen as a high point of Spain’s bid for universal monarchy over Christian Europe. This chapter explores Spain’s justification of its intervention to tease out the legal doctrines applied. The two main documents through which Spain justified its intervention, the declaration issued in March 1590 after Spain’s decision to send armies to France in aid of the Catholic League, and the 1595 counter-declaration following Henry IV of France’s declaration of war against Spain, are analysed. It is argued that Spain adhered closely to the traditional discourse of just war. The major thrust of its efforts at justification was directed at persuading target audiences that intervention was necessary to safeguard higher interests. For this Spain relied on a strategy which can be dubbed ‘hegemonic’ or ‘imperial’ defence, whereby the conservation of the position of the Spanish-Habsburg empire was equated to the universal interests of the community of Christian princes, and thus of the one true, Catholic faith.

Keywords:   Use of force law, intervention, French Wars of Religion, Spanish Empire, Philip II, Henry IV

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