U p to this point the relations of England and Spain havebeen treated, for the sake of convenience, as if they had been isolated from the interference of any third power. In fact, however, the diplomacy of other courts was very much concerned with those relations and with their consequences. England and Spain became the centre of a storm which threatened to cover all western Europe. The Dutch Republic struggled with ingenuity and success to preserve its neutrality, but only an accident saved France from entering the war in the winter of 1740-1. After a very narrow escape, the English and French Governments kept up the appearance of peace at sea for the next few years, and did not come to an open rupture until 1744.