The Duke of Newcastle's war : Walpole's ministry and the war against Spain, 1737-1742
This thesis examines the last years of the Walpole ministry. It attempts to shed light on the inner workings of that ministry through an examination of its foreign policy, exploring the origins and impact of the 1739 war with Spain. This dissertation is the only extended modem study of the Anglo-Spanish diplomacy in these years. It is the only work to give adequate consideration both to the varying influence of British domestic pressures and to Spanish concerns. The thesis attempts to treat Spain's negotiations as variable, contingent on chance and on personalities, as well as on certain intractable beliefs and principles. Events are viewed largely from the perspective of the centre, the handful of leading ministers and diplomats who discussed and made political and diplomatic decisions. The personalities of ministers both in Spain and England, their interactions and rivalries and their differing views, are important to understanding how diplomacy worked. Though concentrating mainly on such interactions, and particularly the growing rivalry between Newcastle and Walpole, the thesis tries to show how influential others were. The inner circle of British ministers was preoccupied with the voice of those `without doors', and public opinion set limits to diplomacy even in Spain. The domestic context of British foreign policy included also a developing popular patriotism. The thesis contends that the Walpole ministry nearly succeeded in procuring a genuine commercial peace with Spain, and that the reasons for failure did not arise exclusively from domestic political clamour. Royal prestige and individual ministerial personalitites, in both countries, affected the outcome at least as much. The full explanation of a complex breakdown can only be found in a close attention to the chronology of negotiation. The thesis is therefore mainly chronological in form. In each chapter, though, an attempt is made to take up relevant themes and develop them with a less strict regard to chronology. Some issues, such as the role of monarchy, and of public opinion, the press campaign and Opposition tactics, the contribution of the South Sea Company, recur.