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Henry VIII 1509 1543
Reasons for Wolsey's rise to power:
Many important ministers from Henry VII's reign were ageing.
In 1509 Wolsey became Royal Almoner, making him a member of the royal council.
Wolsey carried out all Henry's matters of state, making him indispensable to the King.
Wolsey organised the force that would invade France.
He carried out Henry's wishes quickly and efficiently
1515 was a turning point for Wolsey, as he now held the senior office of state, making it difficult for nobles to challenge
As Wolsey was made a Legate a latere he held power over the Church.
Relationship between Henry and Wolsey:
Wolsey was allowed to deal with mundane matters, but major decisions concerning foreign policy or important domestic
affairs could not be made by the King's Cardinal independently.
Henry and Wolsey did not always see eyetoeye.
The fact that Wolsey stayed in power for so long shows Henry was his own man, as Wolsey wealth and power created
resentment from many nobles and councillors.
Henry never listened to these criticisms as Wolsey served him loyally and effectively.
Political partnership between King and Cardinal operated on mutual trust and respect.
Henry and Wolsey decided on policy in private before being presented to the council, which angered other councillors.
Wolsey's domestic policy:
Justice: Promoted civil law over common law, wasn't hostile towards commoners e.g. anyone could bring their case to
Star Chamber, often challenged aristocracy e.g. work on enclosure 1517. Sometimes used Star Chamber for personal
ambition, e.g. revenge on Paulet.
Finance: Replaced traditional fifteenths and tenths tax system with one that accurately reflected true wealth, although
both tax systems continued to exist together. His system managed to raise more money than the old one, e.g. between
1513 and 1516 £170,000 from subsidy while £90,000 raised from fifteenths and tenths. From 1513 to 1529 Wolsey raised
£325,000 through subsidy, £118,000 through fifteenths and tenths and loans totalling £250,000.
Church: Initiated legatime visitations of the monastic house, reform among religious orders were constructive and
positive,13 new episcopal see's, Ecclesiastical extravagance, Didn't work out as well as he had planned
First French War 1512 1514:
Successes: Wolsey prepared an army of 30,000 men, Henry captured Therouanne and Tournai. Battle of Spurs gave
Henry his personal glory although it was insignificant. Demonstrated to Europe England was strong. Wolsey had
proved himself as an exceptional organiser. Earl of Surrey had defeated Scottish army + became Duke of Norfolk as a
reward, the Scottish threat was now greatly diminished, securing England's northern border. The war demonstrated
Henry was different to his father.
Failures: The war cost £960,000 and Henry only made £110,000 a year. Although Therouanne and Tournai were captured
they benefited Maximilian more than Henry. To a large extent Henry was used by both Ferdinand and Maximilian for their
Foreign Policy 1515 1521:
Francis I became King of France in 1515.
England felt isolated in 1517 when Spain (Charles) and HRE (Maximilian) made peace with France.
Treaty of London 1518, demonstrated Wolsey's organisation skills + England as the peacemaker, heaped prestige onto
Henry's reign, ended threat of English isolation in Europe, Tournai given back for French pensions. Diplomatic success.
Charles V elected Holy Roman Emperor (Catherine's Nephew). A FrenchRoman war seemed likely, both France and HRE
tried to attract England as an ally.
Field of Cloth of Gold 1520, over 3,000 nobles from each Kingdom present, lots of money spent little diplomatic success.
Henry had also met with Charles during 1520, and was more likely to side with him due to: England's traditional hostility
towards France, Henry resented Francis' success, England had important trade links with Low Countries which would be
safeguarded by an alliance with Charles, and Papal policy was antiFrench.
In 1521 Wolsey made an agreement with Charles, that they would invade France if the French King refused to make
Second French War 1522 1525:
England appeared to be committed to a war that did not involve her and might fuel domestic unrest.
Earl of Surrey led a raiding party from Calais into Normandy and Picardy, but made no territorial gains and worryingly
received little support from Charles.
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