England's Foreign Policy Aims between 1515 and 1521
What were England's Aims?
There has been much debate over the guiding principals behind Wolsey's foreign policy.
*Traditional Historians have argued that Wolsey perused a policy designed to maintain the balance of power in Europe. He did this by ensuring that no one power became to dominant in European affairs. This usually entailed the promising of support to those seeking to curb the power of the offending nation. For example the joining of the Holy League to fight French dominance
*However, G.R Elton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G_R_Elton) argues that Wolsey simply allied with the biggest power.
*A.F Pollard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Pollard) challenged the balance of power theory by arguing that Wolsey's main principle in foreign affairs was to follow papal policy. Being a loyal servant of the Pope, it has been argued that Wolsey simply wanted to defend the interests of the church. It is also specualted that by following papal interests Wolsey wanted to advance his potential to become Pope himself.
*J.J Scarisbrick discredited this and instead argued that Wolsey did not always follow the pope and in addition his candidacy for becoming pope was unrealistic anyway. If at times England shared interests with Rome it was mere coincidence. Scarisbrick turned around the balance of power argument stating that Wolsey aimed to promote peace by allying with the stronger side and disrupting the balance of power even further forcing the weaker side to seek a peaceful alternative. (seems coincidental that Wolsey wanted to ally with the strongest power in the interests of weaker countries. Ah... how nice. I think not...)
* More recent historians such as Steven Gunn have pointed out the flexibility of Wolsey's policies and argued that it is difficult to identify one guiding principal and that the diplomatic situation was always shifting as deaths, marriages and wars all served to change the state of affairs. The long and short of it is that Wolsey could't…