4.3 Political context
The production year of the Leiden cloth, 1635, saw pertinent changes in European political relations. The economy in the Dutch Republic was booming, but the Eighty Years’ War with Spain was far from over. Peace-oriented and military factions competed for control (Israel 1995). In central Europe the multifaceted troubles and military campaigns that had raged since the Bohemian rebellion of 1618 and that are commonly denoted as the Thirty Years’ War entered a new phase as alliances were restructured in the aftermath of the battle of Nördlingen (6 September 1634), where imperial troops gained the upper hand over Swedish and Protestant forces. The Peace of Prague, concluded in May 1635, brought temporary stability between the Catholic Habsburg Empire and Saxony, one of the leading Protestant states in Germany. It isolated Sweden and benefited Imperial and Spanish troops. France renewed its treaty with Sweden, campaigned in Italy, intensified its intervention on the central European scene and formally entered the war (Pagès 1972). Moreover, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to wage simultaneous military campaigns in order to rid the southern Netherlands of Spanish rule. In May 1635, France declared war on Spain (Israel 1995). The treaty that the States-General and the French political leader Richelieu agreed in February 1635 saw to the partition of Flanders and the other southern provinces along predetermined lines, which has been the object of much contention in the historiography of the Netherlands.
It is thus in a climate of war, shifting alliances and troubled international politics that the Aanloop Molengat cargo was laden and lost. The military and political balance of power would keep the wars raging and intensifying on land and at sea for more than another decade until the Peace of Westphalia was concluded in Münster in 1648. It is almost inconceivable that the assemblage postdates that event.