Henry VIII's foreign policies were conducted under the same constraints as his father's. European power politics had been dominated since 1494 by the Italian Wars. The King of France persistently tried and failed to win control over Naples, Sicily and Milan. All Henry III could do to claim his title as "King of France" was to invade France from the north, usually in alliance with Burgundy.
The King of England had to readjust English foreign relations to changes in European politics. The defining point in foreign relations came in 1519, when Charles Hapsburg was elected as Holy Roman Emperor combining that role with his existing powers as King of Spain and Duke of Burgundy. His victory over Francis I meant rivalry between Valois and Hapsburg was imminent. Henry and Wolsey had the choice of allies, although they were tied to the Hapsburg because of the cloth trade.
Henry VII had conducted foreign policy essentially in a defensive manner, making virtue of non-commitment. Henry VIII could not continue such policy. His nature was war-like and as a Renaissance prince he desired glory and adventure. A final restriction was that foreign policy always had an impact on domestic issues. Henry VIII wanted to build a reputation as a warrior king but there was little support for war because of the consequent hih tax demands and disruption to trade.
Foreign Affairs with France to 1529
The new King dreamed of war against France, to reclaim the ancient right of English kings to the throne of France. The anti-war faction held the early advantage. Archbishop Warham and Richard Fox advised the king to secure a peace treaty with France in March 1510 and dismiss the proposal of war as expensive and dangerous. From 1511, the anti-war faction lost ground because Catherine of Aragon encouraged her husband to go to war, Surrey had won the argument in favour of war against France in Counsel, and one of the key anti-war factions, lady Margaret de Beaufort, died a few months after her son (proving useful to Wolsey and the King). Henry joined the Holy League in 1511 (Spanish, Venetian and papal alliance). This was his diplomatic preparation for his first war against France in 1513. Which proved to be sucessful yet provided him with several desired victories. In 1514 he was deserted by both his allies Ferdinand and Maximilian, so had to make terms with France.
The first phase of the War, Under the guidance of his father-in-law (Ferdinand of Spain) the English army landed near Bayonne ill-disciplined, therefore achieved little more than distract the french while Ferdinand achieved his objective of taking Navarre. Meanwhile the English fleet was defeated off Brest. Admiral Edward Howard(King's close friend) was killed during this naval engagement.
Foreign Affairs with France to 1529 (part 2)
Phase two of the war, Wolsey prepared an army of 30,000 men to be led by the King himself from Dover to Calais. This time he was allied with Maximilian, so advanced towards Flanders as agreed to take the fortress of Therouanne, which was a threat to to Maximilian's territories in the Netherlands. Soon afterwards the King beseiged the French city of Tournai. Various achievements gave the military victory and glory he desired, enabling him to return home in triumph. The war continued in the King's absence, but proved costly and both his allies soon settled their differences with the Kng of France.
Anglo-French relations remained tense, and the accession of Francis I in 1515, brought a new ambitious and rival King to European politics. Francis soon confirmed his status as a dynastic power in Europe. By september he had won a battle against the reputedly invincible Swiss, forced a treaty on the Pope, taken control of Milan and forced Queen Margaret to flee Scotland.
When Pope Leo X called for a peace treaty between the warring states of Europe against the Moslems, Wolsey seized the moment. He jumped on the papal bandwagon and suggested the core of European peace should be an Anglo-French peace treat, strengthened by a non-aggression pact signed by other nations tht would guaantee future collective peave. Wolsey showed astute diplomatic judgement that brought glory top the King and built his reputation as European peace maker.
Relations with the Holy Roman Empire to 1521
Henry had built an alliance with Maximilian in 1513 and co-operated with the emperor during the first war against France. Anglo-Imperial remained on a steady footing and Maximilian was a signatory of the Treaty of London. However his death three months later undermined the continuity of peace. The cloth trade to Flanders confirmed the benefits of sustained Anglo-Imperial co-operation. The election of Charles V in 1519 as Holy Roman Empire created an Empire powerful enough to challenge the might of France. Wolsey worked hard to keep good relations between England and the emperor, meeting him twice in 1520. Wolsey desired peace and refused the emperor's invitation to join a war against France, showing flexibility in handling foreign relations. The King was enthusiastic about the Hapsburg alliance and planned to seal it with the marriage between Princess Mary and Charles V. Over the period to 1521, England gradually moved into alliance with the emperor and towards declaration of war against France. In august 1521, at the conference in Calais, the time had come for England to ally either to Hapsburg or to Valois. While the Calais was underway Wolsey met Charles V at Bruges to make a secret deal, in which they both agreed to declare war against France if Francis refused to make peace. These negotiations were kept secret until the French had payed the next instalment of French pension. In 1522 England declared war against France. English troops were sent to Picardy, while Charles V recovered Milan. In 1523, the Duke of Bourbon raised his army against Francis (Valois). When they failed to take Paris, Henry lost interest in the war, so Wolsey was sent to the negotiating table.
Relations with the Holy Roman Empire to 1521 (part
Between the autum of 1523 and early 1525, no contribution to the Hapsburg-Valois wars. He resisted Charles V's requests to send another English army to northen France while he opened secret negociations with the French.
The diplomatic revolution: English response to the wars in 1525-1529:
In the years to 1525, Wolsey pursued the traditional line in English foreign relations, pro-Imperial and anti-French. However from 1525 the alliance with Charles did not serve English interests. Wolsey looked to build an alliance with France. By august 1525, Wolsey opened negociations for peace and subsequent talks led to the Treaty of the More. The creation of the anti-Hapsburg league (Venice, the papacy, florence, France, the Duke of Milan) to whom england gave financial assistance confirmed the shift in foreign policies in 1526. In 1527, the Sack of Rome during which the Pope was held hostige by the Empire. Wolsey realised he had even less chance of securing Henry VIII's marriage annulment. Later on in the year two treaties were signed, the first the Treaty of Westminster, then the Treaty of Amiens. In 1528, England declared war against Charles V. Wolsey imposed a trade embargo, but due to a bad harvest, growing unemployment he had to face another climbdown and lift the Embargo. In 1529 the "Ladies' Peace" was brought peace between France, the Empire, the Pope, but excluded England.
The diplomatic revolution and Relations with the p
This treaty confirmed Charles' victory over Henry VIII. Wolsey had always preferred to be flexible, to keep his options open and to negociate with both Francis and Charles. After 1525, he lost this flexibility because the King insisted on a rigid policy: oppose Charles V.
Relations with the papacy:
Henry VIII had good relations with the Pope, until there disagreement over the annulment of the King's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Alan Pollard, argues that Wolsey as papl legate and cardinal, conducted foreign affairs in favour of the Pope. He suggest also that Wolsey wanted to become Pope, In 1527, when the pope was held hostage, the cardinal did put himself forward as temporary Pope.
In 1511, Holy league: England and the papacy sign the anti-French alliance. In 1518, the Pope calls for "Universal Peace" - treaty of Lodon. In 1519, Martin Luther publishes his criticisms of the Church ad the Pope. In 1521, Henry publishes his fierce defence of the Pope. In 1526, League of Cognac - the papacy and England join in a anti-Hapsburg alliance. In 1527, the Pope is prisoner, and therefore isn't free to make independent policy decisions about the King's "Great Matter", becoming a contentious issue. In 1529 the Pope signs the League of Cambrai which leaves England isolated.
Relations with Scotland
Scotland remained a great threat to Henry VIII because of its traditional alliance with France. James IV was married to Henry's sister Margaret but this did not secure his loyalty to the English monarch. James marched an army towards England in 1512, with the intention of diverting English troops from France. This proved disastrous for James IV who was killed at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513. The new King was only 17 months old, so Queen Margaret became regent but she had little support among Scottish nobles. She handed the regency to the Duke of Albany who was the heir to the throne. When Henry prepared the second war against France he offered the Scots a 16 year truce and a marriage between James V and Princess Mary under the condition Alaany was removed. They refused and sent an army to ravage the borders. In 1524, when Albany left there was an improvement in Anglo-Scottish relations. The "diplomatic revolution" meant there were friendly relations between Scotland and England. James V was old enough to begin ruling as King, encouraged by the resurgent Anglophile party at the Scottish court.