Treaty of Madrid (1670) -

Treaty of Madrid (1670)

The Treaty of Madrid (also known as the Godolphin Treaty) adopted in July 1670 was a treaty between England and Spain 'for the settlement of all disputes in America '.[1] The treaty officially ended the war begun in 1654 in the Caribbean, in which England had conquered Jamaica.[2] The treaty was highly favourable to England, as its ownership of territories in the Caribbean Sea was confirmed by Spain.[3][4]



The Anglo-Spanish war had begun in late 1654; in Europe the conflict ended with the Treaty of the Pyrenees (between France and Spain) and Charles II's restoration in 1660 but a treaty was never signed. The conflict in the Caribbean however which began with the English failed attempt on Hispaniola and the subsequent capture of Jamaica raged on longer.[5] The region thus remained in a state of war, and privateer raids were launched on the Spanish Main led by Buccaneers notably Christopher Myngs and Henry Morgan under the behest of the Jamaican governor Thomas Modyford [2] As far as Modyford was concerned Jamaica would never be secure until Spain acknowledged England's possession of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and having it named in a treaty.[6] In 1667 the Treaty of Madrid was signed between England and Spain although favourable to the former (in terms of trade) there was no mention of the American colonies or the Caribbean as rightful possessions.[7] Attacks therefore continued; notably Morgan's brutal attack and sackings of Portobello and Maracaibo over the next two years.[8][9]

In 1669 Mariana, the Queen Regent of Spain in response ordered attacks on English shipping in the Caribbean. Charles II ordered Modyford to issue official letters of marque against the Spanish. Modyford commissioned Morgan once more to raid the Spanish Main. Spain during this time was politically, economically and militarily weak after years of war and political infighting.[2] Charles at the same time saw an opportunity he could not miss and felt the time was right to negotiate a treaty with Spain, as England held a great advantage. The only way Spain could be at an advantage was to recapture Jamaica or if France and Holland were to join in a potential war which Charles was seeking to avoid.[5]

Treaty and Terms

Negotiations began in the autumn of 1669 between the Spanish representative Gaspar de Bracamonte, count of Peñaranda with William Godolphin, Envoy Extraordinary from England.[5]

The original language of the treaty was in Latin and the complete English title is: "A treaty for the composing of differences, restraining of depredations, and establishing of peace in America, between the crowns of Great Britain and Spain, concluded at Madrid the 8/18 day of July, in the year of our Lord 1670."[10]

Spain also confirmed England was to hold all territories in the Western Hemisphere that it had already settled; however the treaty did not define what areas were settled.[11] England took formal control of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands after the treaty was signed:

it is agreed, that the Most Serene King of Great Britain, his Heirs and Successors, shall have, hold, keep, and enjoy for ever, with plenary right of Sovereignty, Dominion, Possession, and Propriety, all those Lands, Regions, Islands, Colonies, and places whatsoever, being situated in the West Indies, or in any part of America, which the said King of Great Britain and his Subjects do at present hold and possess, so as that in regard thereof or upon any colour or pretence whatsoever, nothing more may or ought to be urged, nor any question or controversy be ever moved end.[12]

Under the terms of the treaty, all letters of reprisal were revoked by Spain and reciprocal aid to ships in distress along with permission to repair in each others ports were required.[5]

England agreed to suppress piracy in the Caribbean and in return Spain agreed to permit English ships freedom of movement. Both agreed to refrain from trading in the other's Caribbean territory, and to limit trading to their own possessions.[13]

The treaty was then ratified on 28 September.[1]


In Spain and her colonies the treaty was hated, and was viewed by many as a humiliating surrender.[3][5] Spain's military, economic and political weakness at the time meant that they were unable to pose any will, which England had taken easy advantage of.[14] Spanish merchants in particular were unwilling to accept the treaty and the Spanish crown had to give special tax Cédulas as compensation.[15] The treaty was highly favourable to England on the other hand, and the fact that Spain recognized England's colonies in the Caribbean as well as the Americas was a major concession.[16] In previous treaties Spain had always insisted that the New World belonged to it.[17][18] England effectively challenged Spain in the western Caribbean, and subsequently used Jamaica as a base to support settlements all along the Central American Caribbean coast from the Yucatán to (present day) Nicaragua.[19] The new logwood stations there were accepted by Spain but were not recognised and this increased as many ex privateers turned to logwooding.[20] As such the treaty did not establish any boundaries: Spain and England only adopted, in article 7, the principle of actual possession; in Northern America "this compact legalized England's ownership as far south as Charleston, and Spain's as far north as Santa Elena Sound, in 32°, 30' north latitude."[21] As a result it was met with consternation by the Spanish in Florida who despite protests had to accept the newly encroached English colony of Charleston.[18]

Although piracy was suppressed, English ships were now able to roam the Caribbean sea without hindrance.[5] England had sought this in negotiations with Spain but they had refused in 1655 which was the original reason for the outbreak of war. Spain's acquiescence reversed their previous position that defined any English person in the West Indies as an intruder or a pirate.[22]

News of the treaty however did not reach the Caribbean in time for Henry Morgan who on 28 January 1671 had launched a devastating raid on Panama city.[17] The Spanish were furious, and the English saw that Morgan and Modyford had gone too far and had effectively broken the Madrid treaty. In order to restore relations both Modyford and Morgan were recalled and arrested. They went unpunished however, were never convicted and thus released.[23] Morgan was even knighted by Charles and made Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica.

Spain and England were at peace until 1702 with the War of the Spanish Succession.

External links


  1. ^ a b "Treaty between Great Britain and Spain for the settlement of all disputes in America" . The National Archives.
  2. ^ a b c Pestana p. 185
  3. ^ a b Padron pp.xiv-xxi
  4. ^ Fisher, Margaret Anne; Savelle, Max (1967). The origins of American diplomacy: the international history of Angloamerica, 1492-1763 American diplomatic history series Authors . Macmillan. pp. 66–70.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Sankey pp. 663-64
  6. ^ Davenport 2007, p. 187.
  7. ^ Fisher/Savelle p.65 (1967)
  8. ^ Talty pp. 163–165
  9. ^ Zahedieh, Nuala (2004). "Morgan, Sir Henry (c.1635–1688)" . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19224 .CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  10. ^ Chalmers, George, ed. (1790). A Collection of Treaties Between Great Britain and Other Powers, vol. II . London: John Stockdale. p. 34.
  11. ^ Calvo, Cárlos, ed. (1862). Colección histórica completa de los tratados: 1493-1694, vol. I . Paris: A. Durand. p. 169.
  12. ^ Great Britain. Foreign Office (1841). British and Foreign State Papers, Volume 1, Part 1 . H.M. Stationery Office. p. 609.
  13. ^ Eric Williams ed (1963). "Spanish-English Rivalry in the Caribbean, 1498–1670, Documents of West Indian History, vol. I: 1492–1655" (PDF). National Humanities Center. Port of Spain: PNM Publishing.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Ehrengardt p. 61
  15. ^ Stein pp. 63-64
  16. ^ Davenport & Paulin pp. 99 & 188-89
  17. ^ a b Mirza p. 99
  18. ^ a b Grady p. 66
  19. ^ Bolland, Nigel (January 1992). Merrill, Tim (ed.). "A Country Study: Belize" . Library of Congress: Federal Research Division. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ McAlister p. 308
  21. ^ Arredondo, Antonio de (1925). Herbert E. Bolton (ed.). Arredondo's Historical Proof of Spain's Title to Georgia: A Contribution to the History of One of the Spanish Borderlands . University of California Press. p. v–xiii, here p. vii.
  22. ^ Pestana p. 2
  23. ^ Walton p. 131


Categories: Treaties of England | History of the Colony of Jamaica | History of the Cayman Islands | 1670 in England | 17th century in the Cayman Islands | 1670 treaties | Treaties of the Spanish Empire | History of Madrid | 17th century in the Caribbean | 1670 in the Caribbean | 1670 in the British Empire

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