Henry VII Foreign Policy

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HENRY VII FOREIGN POLICY

BRITTANY AND FRANCE

  • Brittany: a fiefdom of the French crown which had enjoyed effective independance
  • Following an invasion in 1487 it looked as if France would gain complete control of Brittany, so in 1489 Henry summoned Parliament to grant him extraordinary revenue against the French due to his obligation to the Bretons (since he grew up there) and fear that direct French control of Brittany could increase a potential French threat to England
  • Scotland was the only country with which England shared a border. Scotland often worked closely with France as part of the 'auld alliance' which was explicity anti- English
  • England and Brittany agreed the Treaty of Redon in February 1489 where the Duchess Anne would pay for a small English army to defend Brittany from the French threat. Henry then tried to strengthen his position by an alliance with Maximillian, the Holy Roman Emperor-elect. A widower, Maximillian had contracted a marriage by proxy with Anne and had no desire for the Duchy of Brittany to fall into French hands.
  • The English army went to Brittany but Anne, fearing the futility of prolonged resistance to the French, surrended and reluctantly married Charles VIII. This left the English army marooned in Brittany and meant Maximillian lost interest.
  • Perkin Warbeck sought French backing in his claim to the English throne.
  • Henry recovered his position by invading France in 1492 and the French quickly sought a peace settlement. Henry used informaion from his agents that Charles VIII was more interested in launching an invasion of Italy therefore would seek a peace settlement with Henry.
  • After signing the Treaty of Etaples in November 1492 Charles VIII agreed to withdraw his support for Perkin Warbeck and pay a pension to Henry to compensate the expense of the invasion

BURGUNDY AND THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE

  • The medieval power of the Duchy of Burgundy had been broken with the death of Duke Charles the Bold in 1477 after which the lands of the duchy proper had been resumed by the French Crown.
  • However the titles of the Duke of Burgundy would pass to Maximilian, Holy Roman Emperor, and most of the low countries were under Maximillion's power.
  • Margaret, widowed Duchess of Burgundy was in ownership of her late husband's estates. She was the leading upholder of the Yorkist cause. She enlisted the support of her stepson-in-law Maximilian (who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1493) and passed on juridstiction of the Netherlands to his 16 year old son, Philip, the following year.
  • The bulk of England's exports went through the ports of the Netherlands which came under Burgundy's juridstiction so, for commercial reasons, good relations needed to be maintained.
  • Relations between England and Burgundy deterioated as a result of the hospitality which Maximilian and Philip were offering to Perkin Warbeck
  • Henry gambled that putting an embargo on English trade with Burgundy would ease the matter however this brought two of his foreign policy objectives into conflict (securing the dynasty and ensuring trade)
  • Henry was prepared

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