In the strong version of the theory which Dr Brotton and Phillips set forth, the actions of the Grande Porte were not only material, but decisive.
Phillips - "It was the Turks who saved us".
Brotton - "Walsingham's plan was ultimately successful. Ottoman fleet movements in the eastern Mediterranean fatally split Philip II's armada" - although he immediately qualifies this by saying that "alongside all the stories we're told at school about why the Spanish Armada failed to conquer Britain and destroy Protestantism, we should add another reason: the Anglo-Ottoman alliance brokered by Elizabeth, Walsingham [and others]"
Conservative Party Reptile found this reheated Reuters report, in which Dr Brotton gives more information.
An academic argued on Tuesday that the Armada had been weakened before it even set sail for England because the Spanish had been forced to keep some ships in the Mediterranean to deal with the troublesome Turkish navy.
"If the Armada had been bigger it would have taken Britain," said Dr Jerry Brotton.
"The Armada was fatally weakened by having to leave some of its ships in the Mediterranean," added Brotton, a lecturer in Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. "Correspondence shows that Walsingham (Queen Elizabeth's spymaster) used diplomats to keep the Turks fighting the Spanish," he told Reuters.
I must say the argument is looking weaker and weaker. If it's a question of ships, as explained yesterday, the fighting vessels of the Spanish Mediterranean fleet would have been little help in the Channel or North Sea, even conceding the point (for which no evidence seems to be offered) that Walsingham's letter produced any Turkish action.
The Reuters report also includes this :
Dr Simon Adams, co-author of "England, Spain and the Grand Armada" argues the Ottoman Turks were not threatening the Spanish in the Mediterranean. "The Walsingham letter had been sent in 1584 or 1585 and although England might have hoped the Turks would cause the Spanish problems, nothing really happened," he told Reuters. "The Turks were not really doing anything (against Spain) in 1588. They were busy in the near east," added the University of Strathclyde academic. Adams said the Armada failed because the expedition was poorly planned and the English had an effective navy helped by favourable weather.
This would imply that there's no evidence of the letter producing any response. The thesis looks extremely weak.
I wrote to Dr Brotton as follows two days ago. I'll let you know.
Dear Dr Brotton,
Your 2004 Hay Festival lecture is in the news again, via Trevor Phillips' interpretation. But all I know of it is the 2004 Guardian report which boils down to :
"Walsingham hoped that Islamic forces might keep the Spanish forces "thoroughly occupied" by "some incursions from the coast of Africa", or by attacking his Italian territories from the sea."
Followed by "Walsingham's plan was ultimately successful. Ottoman fleet movements in the eastern Mediterranean fatally split Philip II's armada".
It sounds as if the Guardian report missed out the crucial link - the evidence that
a) Harborne successfully induced the Turks to harass Spanish possessions or otherwise threaten Spain, over and above the existing semi-endemic warfare
b) that this had a material impact on the Armada
Have you a transcript or copy of the lecture - or references to the evidence for a) and b) ? If so could you please mail me copies/references ?
UPDATE - Six months on and Dr Brotton has not replied. They say the best way to sustain a poor argument is never to offer any evidence in its defence.