Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

By the end of the sixteenth century, King Philip II’s empire crossed most of the known world. From all its territories, the Caribbean became the heart of the empire and the hub for the American trade and riches. From the rise to power of Queen Elizabeth of England in the mid-sixteenth century, the Spanish’s mystique of invincibility started to break. To protect his Catholic Empire, Philip II led an Atlantic endeavor, which provoked an open conflict between Spain and England. During the Anglo-Spanish War, the English attacked various points of significance on both sides of the Atlantic, while the Spanish built an assortment of defensive mechanisms to protect themselves. With the failure of the Invincible Armada in 1588, the Spanish Crown established their magnum opus: a complex fortification system across the Caribbean. With the fortification planning underway, Philip II sent two experts, Italian architect Bautista Antonelli and field master Juan de Tejeda, to inspect all the Caribbean main ports, including the city ports of San Juan of Puerto Rico and La Havana, Cuba. These ports represented the entrance and the exit, respectively, of the Caribbean.

Throughout the construction process, the English privateers continued their attacks across the Spanish Empire, including two direct attacks to San Juan of Puerto Rico. The 1595’s Sir Francis Drake and 1598’s Third Earl of Cumberland assaults to the entrance of the Caribbean instigates a reexamination of the Anglo-Spanish War as a war for the heart of the Spanish Empire: the Caribbean. The war went beyond the Armada, beyond Europe. In the end, with the death of the long-standing monarchs, King Philip II in 1598 and Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, and the ascendancy of two new kings, Philip III of Spain and James I of England, the open conflict ended with an opening for the English to trade and settle in the Americas.

Committee Chair

Andes, Stephen

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