Foreign Policy under Henry and Wolsey to 1529

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Key players in 16th century Europe

France- 1515 Francis I became King of France. Kingdom largest in Europe. Burgundy and Brittany had been acquired through diplomacy. He was determined to uphold French honour and glory abroad. 

Spain- 1516 Charles of Habsburg became Charles I of Spain. Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon had been united (marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile). Only son (Philip) died 1506 leaving grandson as only heir. 

The Holy Roman Empire (HRE)- Office of the HRE brought great prestige if not much actual power. The Habsburgs had made it a hereditary post. 1519, Charles of Habsburg succeeded to the position to become Charles V- now ruled HRE and Spain. 

The Papacy- Spiritual head of the Catholic Church and it was his duty to defend Catholic interests in Europe. 

However this position came under threat due to conflict between the French monarchy and the Habsburgs for control of Northern Italy. 

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Henry's Foreign Policy 1509-29


Peace treaty signed with France in 1510. In 1508 Pope Julius II brought together the Holy League (France, Spain, HRE and Papacy) to attack Venice. 1511 Holy League run course and France emerged strongest power in nothern Italy. 

April 1512 and 12,000 troops dispatched to Bayonne under the command of Marquis of Dorset. Joint Anglo-Spanish invasion to gain Aquitaine (South-West France). 

Henry let down by Ferdinand- English troops used as diversion so could capture Navarre. 

The Battle of the Spurs 1513

Papacy keen to pursue victory over France and Henry now learned that he needed the ability to act alone if he wished to be successful. King personally led army 30,000 over channel to Calais in June 1513. 

Towns of Therouanne and Tournai were captured. Therouanne given to Emperor Maximilian while Tournai was garrisoned by England until 1518. Minor skirmish that was built up by English propaganda to be a great victory. 

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Henry's Foreign Policy 1509-29

The Battle of Flodden 1513

More significant victory against James IV of Scotland. English army under Earl of Surrey met at Flodden Edge. Surrey outnumbered but won a momentous victory that eradicated threat from Scotland. Core of Scottish nobility killed, even James IV. 

The Anglo-French Treaty 1514

1514 Henry forced to make peace with France as Maximilian and Ferdinand had lost interest in France. New Pope, Leo X favoured peace. Terms of the treaty were:

  • England gained Tournai
  • Louis paid arrears of French pension to England

Henry also put forward proposal for Anglo-French attack on Spain, unrealistic and never put in place. Peace treaty sealed by marriage of Mary to Louis XII. 

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Henry's Foreign Policy 1509-29

Relations with france 1514-18 
Louis XII death in 1515. He was succeeded by Francis I- wanted to avenge the defeat of 1513. 

Francis sent Duke of Albany to Scotland to overthrow government of Margaret. Henry deeply envious, Wolsey keen to avoid war as couldn't afforf it. Secret subsidy paid to Maximilian- took the money and defected to France. 

Set up of Anti- French league of Spain, Rome, Venice and HRE. 1516 Ferdinand died, succeeded by Charles. 1516, HRE joined alliance with France through League of Cambrai.

The Treaty of London 1518
1518 Pope Leo X called for crusade against the Turks (Ottoman Empire). Treaty bound the Papacy, France, Spain, HRE and England to take action against the Turks:

  • Non aggression between major powers
  • Collective security, aggressive state rounded up by other states

Treaty signed in October 1518, diplomatic success:

  • Heaped prestige onto Henry's reign 
  • Ended threat of England isolation 
  • Anglo-French treaty signed, Tournai returned to France in return for further pensions 
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Henry's Foreign Policy 1509-29

Spain or France? Managing the changing international landscape

Peace of Treaty of London unlikely to last long. January 1519, HRE Maximilian died- power stuggle to succeed him. Charles chosen new emperor, conflict seemed inevitable. 

The Field of Cloth of Gold 1520

June 1520 Henry and Francis met at Field of Cloth of Gold. 3000 notables from each kingdom met at the feast. No expense was spared in creation of royal pavilions. 

Little of value achieved. Emperor Charles visited England May 1520, desperate for England not to enter alliance with France. 

  • England had traditional hostility to France
  • England had important trade links with low countries
  • Papal policy was anti-French at this time
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Henry's Foreign Policy 1509-29

Diplomatic Relations 1521-25 

July 1521, Wolsey arranged conference between HRE and France, England as peacemaker. August he travelled to Bruges to conclude separate agreement with Charles- England invade France unless King made peace. England stay out of war till 1523.

Wolsey eager to move away from alliance with HRE- England did not have financial resources to wage war- make peace with France.

The 'Diplomatic Revolution' 1525-29

Wolsey opened negogiations with France. Treaty of More 1525, Henry gave up claim to French throne in return for an annual pension. 

Francis released in 1526 on conditions did not threaten HRE in Italy and his sons kept hostage. Francis determined to act against HRE. May 1526, Treay of Gognac alligned England, France and Italian states against Charles. Wolsey organised it with funds but didn't join. 

Charles released Pope by 1527 but under tight control.

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