Foreign Policy HVIII

  • Can Henry's foreign policy be considered a success?
  • How far did Wolsey achieve his aims in foreign policy in the years 1514-1529?
  • Are the years 1509-29 ones of expensive failure?
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  • Created by: alys
  • Created on: 16-01-13 14:15

Gains& Issues


  • Fulfilled task of Renaissance King by waging war & leading a large army
  • Laid claim to inherited title of the King of France. Gained prestige and standing by achieving victory over France.
  • Rising star Thomas Wolsey- organised logistics of raising, suppling and sending away of an army


  • Henry decieved by Ferdinand in 1512.
  • Therouanna and Tournai soft targets. Battle of the Spurs as simply skirmish.
  • High cost campaigns. Severely stretched fiscal rescources- spending greatly overflowed income. Further campaigns went unexecuted due to cash problems.
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Key Powers

Francis I- Valois
Became king of the largest kingdom in Europe.
Aim: Uphold French honour and glory abroad. Inherited a conflict in Italy against the Habsburgs from Louis XII.

Charles V- Habsburg
Ruled the Holy Roman Empire- collection of 400 semi-autonomous states ruled over by Princes- roughly where Germany is. Emporer before Charles was Maximilian.
Office of HRE brought prestige but less power. Charles V of the HRE was also Charles I of Spain.
Aims: Wage war in Italy, defeat the pagan Turks in the Mediterranean and repel the Protestant Reformation in Europe.

Another key power was the Papacy
Spiritual power- leader of the Catholic Church and aimed to defend Catholicism in Europe.
Temporal (secular)- Major landowner in Italy, Habsburg Valois conflict threatened papal interests. Charles sacked Rome and took Clement VII prisoner. 

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Henry's Early Foreign Policy (FP)

Achievements of the French Campaigns of 1511-12:
Aim: Claim throne of France
Method: Anglo-Spanish marriage alliance. Ferdinand crucial invasion ally.

War against France:
Henry VII wanted to avoid war as he was busy defending his own Crown. Formed peace treaty with France in 1510- angered Henry VIII- he wanted war!
Henry's diplomacy failed to get him in the Holy League so he was left isolated.
By 1511 France had emerged as the stronger power in Italy. Pope changed direction and launched Holy League (Spain, Venice, the Empire and England) against France- more of what Henry wanted. Henry won over the Great Council by portraying it is a papal war in defence of Church liberties.
Decieved by Spain
Ferdinand wanted Henry to send troops to France as a diversion so that he could persue his own interests.  

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Battle of the Spurs, 1513

AIM: Because of the disaster with early FP, Henry was really determined to gain authority in France. Henry learnt from his mistakes; to meet English aims he would act independently of untrustworthy allies. The campaign seized Therouanne and Tournai with little French resistance Tournai was garrisoned by Henry at great cost until 1518. There was little fighting but the skirmish had been nicknamed 'the Battle of the Spurs' due to the speed of the French retreat. 

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Battle of Flodden, 1513

The Earl of Surrey's army went north to meet James IV. This occured while Henry was in France. Surrey was outnumbered and held the weaker position on Flodden Edge, yet Surrey won a devastating victory- the majority of scottish nobility were left dead on Flodden field, including James IV himself. Scottish threat diminished- heirs were too young to take over throne or battle. Henry could regard his northern frontier as secure, even though he had not been there.

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Anglo-French Treaty 1514

Henry VIII's weakness- failure
In 1514 Henry had to make peace with France because...

  • His allies (Ferdinand and Maximilian) had decided to make peace with Louis XII
  • Leo X, the new Pope wanted peace
  • Henry's coffers were emptying rapidly

The Treaty- success

  • England gained posession of Tournai
  • Louis agreed to pay the arrears of the English pension handed out to Henry VII in the 1490s
  • The peace treaty was sealed with the marriage of Henry's younger sister Mary to the elderly Louis XII (alliance) 
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Wolsey the Peacemaker

French Ambitions
January 1515- Francis I became King on Louis XII's death. He had ambitions but Francis made more impact given France's greater monetary and material resources.

1515- sent Duke of Albany to overthrow Margerets regency government. The unrest in Scotland did lead to Margeret's overthrow.
1515- after the battle of Marignano, Francis came to control Northern Italy.
1516- a concordant with Leo X confirmed the French King's right to appoint bishops

Henry's/Wolsey's response
A pro-papal, anti-french alliance with emperor Maximilian: secret subsidy sent to him to remove France from Northern Italy. Bribe accepted but alliance declined. 
An anti french league: (Rome, Venice, Spain and the Empire) Ferdinand of Spain died and was replaced by Charles. He did not want to fight France immediately so made peace with it. He did not need England. 

Significance: End of 1517, despite the efforts of Wolsey and Henry, England was isolated and humiliated.

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The Treaty of London 1518

How successful was it?
It allowed Wolsey to redeem himself of earlier failures.

Terms: A peace settlement joined France, Spain, the Papacy, the Empire and England to action against the Turk. It guarenteed non-aggression between the powers. He also built in a principle of collective security- if any of them were aggresive they would be dealt with by the rest of the states.

The treaty was a diplomatic success:
It heaped prestige onto Henry's reign, ended the English isolation, returned Tournai to France in exchange for further pensions and kept the Duke of Albany out of Scotland.

Wolsey had hijacked Leo's plans but also recieved the commission of Legate a Latere, a position he had been pressing for since 1514.

Spain or france? The changing international situation: Given Europe's almost constant state of warfare, the treaty of London was unlikely to last. When Maximilian died, a Habsburg-Valois conflict erupted. Wolsey and Henry continue to present England as the arbiter of Peace.

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The Field of the Cloth of Gold

In June 1520, Henry and Francis met at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, near Calais. Both Kings tried to boast about their Renaissance credentials. Jousting and an unplanned wrestling match occured- which Henry lost.

Significance- Henry and the Emperor: Not Francis!
Little was achieved diplomatically, only in that there was no alliance with France.
Neutrality was difficult given tension between Charles and Francis. Charles was desperate for Henry not to join France so the Field exerted pressure on Charles. Henry was always more likely to side with the Emperor due to traditional hostility towards France, trade links and relationships with the Pope after the battle of Marignano. 

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England, France and the HRE

Wolsey the Peacemaker, July 1521
Arranged a 3-power conference at Calais. England would act as the peace-broker between France and the HRE.

Treaty of Bruges, August 1521
Settlement with Charles concluded. English would invade France unless Francis agreed to make peace. Wolsey then negociated a delay until 1523 hoping situations would change because England did not have the resources to fight.

Domestic Opinion and War
Not 1513 and the conquest of France was now unpopular. It did not serve England's interests and would need increased taxations.

Action: Skirmishes
1522: Earl of Surry led raiding party into Normandy. No success and no support.
1523: Opportunity to undermine Francis' power- failed due to undersupply.
1523-25: Wolsey avoided action depsite Charles' demands. 

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Battle of Pavia & Diplomatic Rev. 1525

Henry and Charles
Charles' victory over Francis at Pavia changed everything.

  • The French army was destroyed
  • Francis I taken prisoner!
  • Charles was now much stronger and could do without England. 1523-5 Charles realised that Henry was avoiding action. He rejected his call for the French crown and even called off his marriage to Mary. The Ango-Imperial alliance as at an end.

Henry and France: the Treaty of the More, 1525
Henry gave up his claims to France in return for an annual pension.

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Henrician FP

Treaty of Westminister- 1527
(Connected to the Great Matter and the downfall of Wolsey)

Traditionally the turning away from the Emperor and towards France is seen as a turning point in English foreign policy.
Mary was again a diplomatic marriage pawn for Francis or his second son.
Henry threatened Charles with armed intervention if he did not make peace.

Significance of Westminister and Cognac
England didn't have the military power to hurt Charles. The league of Cognac achieved nothing.
1527: Imperial forces sacked Rome and imprisoned Clement VII
This was a disaster for Wolsey as he was trying to secure an annullment from Catherine on behalf of Henry. Wolsey's Diplomatic Revolution had moved him away from Charles, who was the man that could help solve the Great Matter.

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Henrician FP (cont)

Wolsey had little room for manouvre...

He tried to act without the Pope and asked the College of Cardinals to make a decision. He did not convince them and nothing resulted.
He declared war on Charles but no english army was ever mobilised
Wolsey knew he lacked sufficient millitary so tried an economic route. This was more damaging to England's trade.
Charles' victory at Landriano in June 1529 led to the Peace of Cambrai between France, Spain and the Papacy which ensured control in Italy. Wolsey wasn't even informed. 

England was left isolated, Wolsey had no chance of an annulment through Rome and was facing ruin. 

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