The mid-1580s were a time of crisis for the English that in many ways continued for the rest of the reign. Elizabeth’s efforts to keep England out of foreign entanglements, which could be both dangerous and costly, failed. The difficulties and problems of continental Europe deeply influenced English policy. As the conflicts with Spain became more intense, the English perceived Spanish involvement in both the Netherlands and France as dangerous to their own security. Threatening in a different way was the possibility of foreign domination in Scotland and Ireland. Even after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, there was great concern for the rest of the reign that Philip might mount another armada. Fear of Spanish intervention in Ireland led to heightened problems there. Trying to counter Spanish influence and support for the Catholic League also meant money and English military involvement in France. The cost of these foreign policy involvements were difficult for England to bear and darkened the final decades of Elizabeth’s rule. Philip II’s perception of himself as “his Most Catholic Majesty” pushed religion into foreign policy for England in a way that made Elizabeth, only reluctantly a leading Protestant ruler, most uncomfortable. Spain was becoming more and more powerful, especially after 1580 when Philip had seized Portugal. In April 1581 the Portuguese Cortes formally recognized Philip as king. Catholic Spain was a serious and threatening power to Elizabeth’s England.
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