Henry's Foreign Policy

Henry VIII's foreign policy

as history with edexcel

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  • Created on: 27-06-12 07:28
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Was Henry's early foreign policy a success?
Henry VIII admire the great warrior kings of the past such as Henry V, who defeated the French in a
battle where the odds were five French to one British, and the legendary King Arthur with his knights
of the round table. Both Henry and Catherine believed that Henry was meant to be a warrior king like
some of his predecessors. Henry's admiration of the past warrior kings inspired him into going to war
with France. In the past it had traditionally been the King of England who was King of France. This right
was lost in a previous reign to Henry's own and Henry was determined to reclaim the throne for
himself since he believed it was his right. Henry joined the holy alliance along with Italy and Spain in
the hope of gaining enough military and economical power to defeat the French. In 1513 Henry
defeated the French in one of his most successful fights of his early reign; the Battle of the Spurs. In
this battle, The English literally sent the French fleeing. In fact, the French were so desperate to
escape that they even discarded their armour, despite its expense, in an attempt to make
themselves lighter so that their horses could go faster. While Henry was at war with France, he had
left Catherine behind as regent of England. Once Henry had gone to war, the Scottish decided to
take advantage of the English King's absence. However, Catherine proved herself to be a good
regent and war leader. She gathered an army of her own that fought against the Scottish and won.
Catherine even sent Henry the coat of King James IV of Scotland after he was killed.
However, Henry also encountered some serious problems with his early foreign policies. At the
beginning of his reign, Warham and Fox went behind Henry's back by arranging a peace treaty
between England and France. Henry was outraged by their actions since he believed that France was
England's traditional enemy and was determined to defeat France and become King there too. Henry
also found problems in the supposed allies he had created through the holy alliance who, it became
apparent, had only joined for purely selfish motives. This became apparent when Spain went against
England when it was more beneficial for them to do so and, as a result, though he won the battle of
the spurs, Henry lost the war against France.
Henry had some significant successes in the early years of his foreign policy. Both his actions and
those of Catherine provided some great victories, both abroad and back in England. However,
England's military size and finances meant that they relied too heavily on the aid of allies in order to
stage any kind of war. When Spain stabbed Henry in the back, England simply could not continue to
fund the war with France and was forced to agree to peace. To conclude, though Henry undoubtedly
had some successes in his early reign, overall his foreign policy was a failure in his early years.


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