Henry VII's Foreign Policy

  • Created by: Tasha.L
  • Created on: 17-04-16 16:36

Henry's Aims for his Foreign Policy


  • Achieve international recognition.
  • Discourage foreign powers from promoting pretenders.
  • Avoid costly foreign affairs, thus allowing his to focus on his dynasty.
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1489: Medina del Campo

This is arguably one of the most significant events of Henry's foreign policy. 

The Medina del Campo was established with Spain in 1489. Under this treaty:

  • Arthur was to marry Catherine of Aragon.
  • Catherine was to have a dowry of £40,000
  • The Spanish were not to support any pretenders/challengers to the English throne
  • Trade was to improve
  • If either country was to go to war against France, the other would intervene. 

In 1501, Catherine and Arthur were married. However, within six months, Arthur died. 

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1489: Medina del Campo

Arthur's death meant that two of Henry's three sons had now died. Henry VII quickly proposed that Catherine should marry his remaining son, Prince Henry. However, by 1503, relations between France and Spain had improved: the alliance between the two states was slowly deteriorating. This ultimately left Henry VII with no major country to support his son and his claim to the throne upon his death: the Tudor dynasty had become vulnerable. 

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1492: the Treaty of Etaples

In October 1492, Henry VII sent troops to France in response to Charles VIII's invasion of Brittany, the only area that remained independent from the vastly growing French state. Henry supported Brittany as he had lived there as a child in exile and because if the French gained control, they would have access to the whole of the English Channel, making it easier to launch an invasion. 

Henry's decision to send a small force was very successful in achieving foreign policy, as Charles VIII was preoccupied with invading Italy and so sought peace. The result was the establishment of the Treaty of Etaples, under which the French promised to end all support for the pretender Perkin Warbeck and pay England £5000 per annum.

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1496: the Magnus Intercursus

In order to increase the wealth of the Crown, Henry wanted to increase the use of trade. Of particular importance was the cloth trade in Antwerp, Burgundy. However, in 1493, Margaret of Burgundy began to support Perkin Warbeck. In response to this, Henry temporarily suspended trade links. 

In 1496, Burgundy pulled back and the Magnus Intercursus was established, under which English merchants could trade anywhere in Burgundy without paying tolls or customs. 

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1497: Truce of Ayton

When James IV came to the throne in Scotland, he wanted to establish his position by going to war with the traditional enemy. He further supported the pretender Perkin Warbeck. Yet when Henry offered peace terms on which a treaty could be based, he accepted. The result was the Truce of Ayton: this was significant as no peace terms had been established with Scotland since 1328. It was further reinforced by the marriage of Henry's eldest daughter, Margaret, to James IV in 1503. 

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