Henry VII - Foreign Policy

Henry's Foreign Policy Aims

·         To secure his throne

·         To achieve international recognition of his claim to the throne and his dynasty

To promote prosperity in England

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Problems when Considering Foreign Policy

·         Lacks power to dictate events

·         The quality of the information available was poor

Foreign language often misinterpreted

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England, France and Brittany

·         Brittany was an independent state, but France wanted to take it over. Calais was British

·         Henry made a 1 year truce with France, extended from 1486 - 1489 This neutralised the main threat

·         The French planned to marry Charles VIII to Anne of Brittany in order to take it over

·         Henry felt he owed Brittany something, so he felt he should protect Brittany

·         Breton = Brittany

·         Henry made a commercial treaty with Brittany. Treaty of Redon 1489 – Defend the duchy from France

·         The French bought off Maximilian Von Habsburg – England left fighting on their own

·         December 1491 – Charles VIII married Anne of Brittany

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The Invasion of France

·         Henry went to war with France in October 1492 with 26,000 men

·         This was due to the threat of Perkin Warbeck

·         Polydore Vergil says some people believed that England’s reason for going to war was financial, Henry wanted money

·         France offered England terms. Didn’t go to war, they negotiated with England

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Treaty of Etaples, 1492

·         The French paid Henry’s expenses in launching the invasion and restored the pension paid to Edwards IV, which amounted to £12,000 a year for the next 15 years

·         The French also promised to abandon Perkin Warbeck and not to support pretenders to the English throne in the future

·         Henry acknowledged that Brittany was now a part of France and that England must now face a potentially hostile coastline from Calais westward

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Why did Henry Continue to Fear France?

·         Making alliances brought the risk of a French invasion

·         Henry became an associate member of the League of Venice in 1496

·         Henry allied with Spain in 1499

·         Married Arthur to Catherine of Aragon in 1501

·         It was not clear if this was in England’s best interests

·         Spain and the low countries were unlikely to help England with a French invasion

Henry might have done better remaining in good terms with France

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·         Scotland was France’s main ally against England

·         The threat from Scotland was not serious as they suffered a defeat to Richard of Gloucester and has lost Berwick upon Tweed to England

·         Scotland signed a 3 year truce with England in July 1486

·         The Battle of Sauchieburn helped Henry as it led to the murder of James III and the succession of his young son James IV to the Scottish throne

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Worsening Relations

·         James IV and his advisors were more hostile to England

·         November 1488 – king of Scotland had received a large number of Yorkist visitors and was on good terms with Margaret of Burgundy

·         Summer 1491 – James made a treaty with France – treaty committed James to invade England if England invaded France

·         1492 – Negotiating a truce with Scotland

·         1495 – The truce was torn up

·         1496 – Perkin Warbeck given Scottish troops to invade England

·         The threat was so real that it caused a massive tax strike in the West country when he tried to raise taxes for war against the Scots

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Peace and Alliance

·         James IV began to take the offer of a marriage between James and Princess Margaret seriously

·         James signed a 7 year truce in 1497 at Ayton. Renewed in 1499, becomes a formal peace treaty in 1502

·         In August 1503, James and Margaret were married. This was successful in terms of relations

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·         Burgundy was so important to Henry as most of England’s exports went through Antwerp, which came under Burgundy’s jurisdiction

·         There was tension between England and Burgundy as Margaret of Burgundy was Richard III’s sister

·         Henry dealt with the threat by putting a trade embargo on Burgundy. This made him unpopular, but relations improved as they had to talk to each other to make deals.

·         The intercursus Magnus signifies the end of the trade ban signed in 1496

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Treaty of Medina del Campo, 1489

The terms:

·         Ferdinand and Henry VII agreed mutual support to defend their countries against any enemy

·         Neither country would assist or harbour rebels or pretenders

·         Catherine of Aragon would marry Prince Arthur

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Treaty of Medina del Campo, 1489


·         The Spanish did not honour the commitment to provide assistance in Brittany

·         The Spanish princess would not marry into a politically unstable royal family

·         Endless arguments about the size and payment schedules for Catherine’s dowry

·         1501 – Catherine and Prince Arthur married

·         1502 – Arthur died

·         This immediately endangered the Anglo Spanish alliance

·         In 1503, Ferdinand accepted the deal that Catherine should marry Henry VIII

·         In 1504 the alliance declined as the death of Isabella opened up the Castilian succession question. He tried to retract Prince Henry’s betrothal to Catherine claiming he was under the age of 12 at the time of the papal dispensation, therefore it was not valid

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