Do you agree with the view that Henry's foreign policy failed in the years 1514 to 1525 due to a lack of resources?

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  • Created on: 21-03-13 17:17
Preview of Do you agree with the view that Henry's foreign policy failed in the years 1514 to 1525 due to a lack of resources?

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Do you agree with the view that Henry VIII's foreign policy in the years 1514-25 failed because he lacked the
resources to fulfil his aims?
Henry VIII's foreign policy aims were to claim the title King of France and emulate the military actions of Henry V.
However Henry failed to fulfil the majority of his aims mainly due to a lack of resources but there was a plethora of
other reasons as to why he failed. One major reason was the current diplomatic situation; Charles V capturing the
Pope. This stalled Henry's foreign policy aims. Another major reason was Wolsey's decisions. Because he
annihilated the majority of the nobility in England, when he wanted to challenge Charles V to recover the Pope he
didn't receive any support and thus failed to capitalise on the foreign policy aims. Wolsey's self-interest pushed
England's foreign policy back further; historians believe he simply wanted to align England with the strongest power.
Furthermore the Treaty of London failed, humiliating England and not securing any form of collective security.
Foreign powers were using England as a diversion, such as Ferdinand of Spain using English troops at Aquitaine.
Finally, the reason Henry lacked resources was due to his finances. Between 1511 & 1525 he spent £1.4million,
which was classed as a "frivolous expenditure": although he captured Therouanne and Tournais, the battles fought
were very easy but very costly, and in order for Henry to maintain his spoils of war he would have to spend time
there. His foreign policy did fail because of a lack of resources however the lack of resources stems from "frivolous
expenditures." On the other, you could say that his foreign policy didn't fail at all, because of the victories in France.
Source 4, written by a modern historian, supports the claim that Henry's foreign policy failed because he lacked
resources. It also supports the reason that England's so-called allies failed to support Henry ­ "his allies proved
unscrupulous and unreliable." & it hints at England's humiliation following the failure of the Treaty of London -
"Maximilian and Ferdinand were bribed by the French to disown their treaty obligations to England, leaving Henry to
fight alone." Finally, the source proves that Henry's foreign policy was defensive because of a lack of money ­ "The
young warrior finally accepted the fact that royal finances could not support a repetition of the campaign of
1513...Henry made peace with him [King of France]." The financial problem that caused the lack of resources is very
wide spread. This is supported in source 6 ­ "the last loan is not repaid, nor will this be." The letter in source 6 is
describes the failure of the Amicable Grant and proves that a victory on French soil would create more problems
that a loss ­ "he [Henry] will have to spend his time and revenues there."Moreover by making peace with the King of
France Henry immediately forfeits one of his prime foreign policy objectives, further proving it failed. It's an
interesting choice of words "warrior finally accepted" because it references Henry's apparent obliviousness to the
Amicable Grant fiasco of 1525. Even though it was one of Wolsey's biggest failures and the start of his downfall, he
was only trying to fulfill his master's aims of a dominant foreign policy. Here it's clear that a lack of resources is to
blame as to why Henry's foreign policy failed. Overall his ambitions were too unrealistic and overambitious. But if
you consider that Henry had a defensive foreign policy, it did not fail at all. England faced no impending attacks in
the period 1514 to 1525 and retained very good security, despite the failure of the Treaty of London.
Source 5 suggests that it wasn't a alack of resources at all that caused Henry's foreign policy to fail between 1514
and 1525. It suggests that it was international affairs that caused England's foreign policy to fail - "at the mercy of
shifts in 'great power' politics, over which England exercised no control." The source is primarily about the Treaty of
London, which was a catastrophic failure. It failed because Europe at the time was in a delicate state: nobody
wanted to take sides and leave themselves vulnerable. But, unlike sources 4 and 6, source 5 categorically dismisses
the Treaty of London as a "mere exercise in egotism" and therefore rules out Wolsey's own intentions as a viable
reason as to why Henry's foreign policy failed. But despite it's failure the Treaty of London did at least bring England
considerable prominence.
In conclusion, I do agree with the view that Henry's foreign policy failed because of a lack of resources, but only to
an extent. The lack of resources can easily be traced back to other major factors such as Wolsey's self interest, the
actions of Charles V, and the way England's allies used soldiers as a diversion. Even though his resources were
limited he still managed to gain some successes in 1513 but these can undoubtedly be seen as "frivolous
expenditures." The sources give evidence to support other reasons such as financial problems and the ricocheting
behaviour of other countries. Source 5 counters the argument that suggests Wolsey only did what he did for self
interest but also shows that Wolsey had to settle for peace as a inexpensive option to please his master. In the
end, Henry's foreign policy was overambitious and unrealistic, as is shown in source 6 as it outlines the basic
maintenance of obtaining French land. Basically it did fail because of lack of resources, as would any campaign, but
every other factor contributed to this lack of resources, and therefore they can all be responsible in one way or
another for the failure of Henry VIII's foreign policy.


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