Sidelined? England's foreign policy


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  • Created by: Alex
  • Created on: 09-03-12 17:13


In 1523, circumstances in Europe changed. The Duc de Bourbon rebelled against Francis.

  • Hoping to win the throne of France for himself, Henry sent an invasion force of 100,000 led by the Duke of Suffolk.
  • Charles was meant to send reinforcements from the Netherlands but let Henry down. England was left alone to fight the French.
  • Charles was more interested in securing his frontier in the Pyrenees and continuing the war in Northern Italy.
  • Suffolk had begun to march on Paris. However, as the weather worsened, he retreated back to Calais. At this point, even Henry had lost enthusiasm for war.
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Relationships with Charles V

However, in 1525 everything changed again.  Henry was beginning to contemplate divorce.  Yet his wife Catherine of Aragon was Charles V’s aunt, so Charles would be unlikely to support Henry.

  • Renewed war between Charles and Francis led to the capture of Francis after the battle of Pavia.
  • Henry felt he could share in the spoils of victory without having to go to war. Charles thought Henry had let him down so ignored him. He married Isabella of Portugal instead of Princess Mary.
  • Breakdown of relations with Charles put even more strain on Henry’s marriage. In spring 1527 he told Wolsey he wanted an annulment. Wolsey began to promote a French alliance.


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1526 onwards

  • In 1526, Wolsey organised the League of Cognac between Italian states and Frabce, aimed at resisting Charles’ intervention in Italy. While England didn’t join, it did offer financial aid.
  • However, Charles’ troops proved unstoppable. Under the Duc de Bourbon, they invaded Rome on 6th May 1527 and subjected the city to immense slaughter.
  • The Pope fled to his fortress, the Castel San Angelo. The Venetians asked Henry to intervene. However by this time he was too preoccupied with the ‘Great Matter’ of his divorce.
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Why couldn't England go to war?

There were specific reasons why England couldn’t afford to go to war in the mid 1520s:

  • The cost was too great
  • So far, the results of war had been disappointing.
  • Henry would be expected to provide supplies and equipment for Charles V’s army. It was relatively easy for France to intercept these in transit.
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