Appleby, John C.
Doctoral Thesis, Department of History, The University of Hull, August (1983)
From 1625 to 1630 England was actively involved in that wider, more general conflict which was sweeping across Europe during the first half of the seventeenth century. The main interest of King Charles lay in his determination to see the Palatinate restored to his brother-in-law. It was for this reason that Charles took up arms against Spain: in 1625 a major naval expedition was sent to the Spanish coast to seize the treasure fleet returning from the New World. The disastrous failure of this expedition, perhaps the “low water mark” of English seamanship, increased the King’s determination to repeat the operation in 1626. Success again eluded the English fleet. The expedition of 1626 was the last to be sent against Spain for the rest of the war; during the course of that year England became enmeshed in a web of disputes with France. The result was another major naval expedition to aid the Huguenots in the port of La Rochelle. The expedition was under the supreme command of the King’s favourite, the Duke of Buckingham. The failure of this expedition goaded Charles into another effort to relieve the Protestant city in 1628. Buckingham was again to take personal charge but following his assassination in August the expedition was eventually led by the Earl of Denbigh.
The successive failure of these expeditions to the continent, or of their inability to achieve even a modicum of success, sapped the English military effort and contributed to the alienation of opinion of many at home: Sir Simonds D’Ewes was not alone in lamenting, during 1628, that “the Protestant cause was well near ruined this year by the unfortunate and unseasonable assistance of England”. Dogged by serious mismanagement and financial debility, despite prodigious efforts to raise money, the English military machine was structurally incapable of successfully fighting both Spain and France.