|Pecunia, Patria, Religio: Atlantic trade during the Dutch Revolt (1585-1609)|
|During a conversation between the Duke of Lerma and the English ambassador to Spain, Sir Charles Cornwallis, the seizure of some Englishmen in the Caribbean by Admiral Fajardo was brought up. Cornwallis protested against such an action and Lerma answered: “that Don Lewis shall be called to account for that he did not instantly execute them, saying, that they were there taken with the Rebells the Hollanders; and marvell’d that his Majesty of England would suffer his Vessels […] to assist or accompany such his Master’s trayterous and evill affected Subjects”. The ambassador replied: “that what Merchants did in their Trades […] I thought Princes could hardly give Account. That well it might be the Fortune of those taken in the Indies to have been found in the Company of the Hollanders, or at least in place where they were: But that they either went or were there with any purpose to assist them, appeared well by what they were laden with: By the small nomber of Men they had in their Ships, and their yielding themselves without Resistance. I said, that the Words in the Articles, for Trade within all the Dominions of the King here before the Warrs, were very generall. That the Merchaunts having had Navigation and Commerce there before, and finding none especiall Prohibition for the Indies, either in the Articles, or any Edicte or Proclamation of either of the Kings, supposed it lawfull to trade thither. That were it taken at the worst, it could amount but to an offence of Ignorance not of Will, and their purpose not hostile, or in any sort prejudiciall to the King of Spaine”.
The discussion had been conducted in strictly political and diplomatic terms, with no reference to the religious creed of the victims. This essay intends to establish that, at the beginning of the XVII century, trade between Western European countries, and between some of the said nations and Muslim countries was of a "secular" nature, removing the religious factor from relationships between subjects of different countries both in economic and political transactions. By 1600 the ius gentium had matured sufficiently for Alberico Gentili to have written that “between a prince and the subject of another nation it is the practice that the civil law should not apply but rather the law of nations alone”.
No prohibition based on religious aspects appeared in the articles of the Truce of Antwerp (1609) or in the Peace of Vervins (1598), the exception being the Spanish-English Treaty of 1604. The economic and political environment of the Spanish-Dutch conflict between 1585 and 1609 served to prove that Pecunia, Patria and Religio, in this precise order, constituted the parameters governing trade relations between states. This conflict proves that relations between both countries and their allies were based on material rather than political interests, the English accusing the Republic of providing Spain with the necessary military supplies to wage war (1585-1603), and the Republic accusing the English for exact the same in 1604-1609.