Reasons for the dominance of foreign policy
Foreign policy dominated the first twenty years of Henry VIII’s reign. The reasons for this dominance are:
- Henry wanted to win back French territories lost during the previous century
- He found war glamorous and wanted to assert himself as a renaissance prince. His heroes were Henry V and fictional King Arthur
- Henry wanted England to be politically at the heart of Europe, not just a small nation on the periphery
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- Europe was dominated by the powers of Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire.
- In 1508, France had intervened to save Venice from papal attack. Pope Julius II then called for a ‘Holy League’ to expel France from Italy.
- England and Spain joined this league, and Henry prepared to attack France.
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First French War, 1511-12
- Henry believed King Ferdinand of Spain would help England win back Aquitaine in France but the promised help never arrived
- Ferdinand used the English invasion as a diversion while he conquered Navarre
- Dorset’s troops began to die of dysentery in vast numbers. The commander had little choice but to retreat and head for home.
- Ferdinand made peace with France and Henry felt betrayed
- Dorset found that Ferdinand had accused him of incompetence.
- Henry learnt that allies couldn’t necessarily be trusted. Henry’s first taste of war had ended badly without success.
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