In the year 1509 Henry 8th succeeded his father Henry 7th to the throne of king of England. During this time many doubts lay to whether a man of Henry 7th’s stature could even be compared to any future king of England let alone being compared to a young, inexperienced and what was once said a foolish king like Henry 8th. However Henry made it clear that he had no intention of living under the shadow of his father and his more mature advisors.

This decision was foreseen by Henry’s early decision to marry Catherine of Aragon and the imprisonment of Epson and Dudley (high treason-extort money for the crown) proved that Henry wasn’t a character to mess around with and signaled a turn that he was his own master. It was therefore not surprising that commentators of Henry’s time predicted his aggressive energy would become apparent in his dealings abroad with rulers of Europe. Henry was a firm believer in the cause of chivalry and believed the king took the role of being the valiant knight.

Thus meant that Henry saw himself being successful at war and although he was inexperienced his education played a vital part in his ambition. Henry’s mind was influenced toward the land of France whereby his predecessors before him such as Henry V who won famous victories and whose son had the privilege of being crowned king of France and England acted as models where Henry believed that he to should have the privilege and go even further.

Henry took this as no dream and believed this was a goal he could reach, with England already having the right to Calais this acted as a perfect offensive position where this lay the settings for Henry to claim what he thought was rightly his. Henry started his main foreign policy objective by “analysing” the situation of Europe. During the period of English dominance in France, the country had grown greatly economically and militarily. France had also foreseen a renaissance and was known as one of the strongest powers in Europe.

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This meant that Henry’s army was no match for the French not only number wise but also wealth and arms wise. Henry therefore had to look elsewhere for help and create and alliance whereby the lost lands of France could be regained but also shared amongst his allies with Henry still keeping the crown of France. Henry’s father in law -Ferdinand was ruler of Spanish kingdoms and had been in dispute with France for many years because of territory claims in southern Italy and the Pyrenees. In addition, the Hapsburg family which controlled much of southern Germany and much of the burgundian lands (inc.

Netherlands) as well as holding the title of holy roman emperor was at odds over the possession of Milan. However in order to achieve such a goal Henry needed the trust he could place in his ministers. This was not achieved. Henry slowly learned his ministers were not pliant tools in his hands and any feedback given was to surely frustrate him. Henry therefore learned that he needed a man of business and knew that his loyalty laid upon his king rather then his own minister. This man was finally found with the appointment of bishop fox. His name, Thomas Wolsey.

Wolsey came from no ordinary background that a cardinal would come from in England. Unlike other ministers and bishops Wolsey didn’t inherit any “blue” blood and his origins lay upon being the son of a butcher. Through Wolsey’s high educational manner, luck and amount of contacts in the system Wolsey climbed up the great chain of being and was eventually to run the catholic church in England and go beyond that in the years to come. Even with Wolsey’s high stature as being a faithful servant (for the time being) Henry found it hard to achieve what he desired.

He discovered that his potential allies were less reliable. In particular, his father in law Ferdinand was totally dishonest breaking the solemn of promises only in his best intentions to do so. Maximillian however sabotaged the agreement through bribes where England was left as the laughing stock of Europe and with the end of the season approaching England was left with nothing but a great expense. Henry took the introduction of the new season as being a campaigning season. He decided that the English army would be lead by himself personally in the area of northern France within easy reach of Calais.

This meant that if either of his allies failed to do what they had promised then the consequence need not to be so disastrous as he could then still carry out his plan. With Henry’s entrusting servant, Wolsey was left to left to organise the assemblage of the army with all supplies and ensuring the safe transport of the troops. Many accredited him for this and many thought he had shown a near miracle in his administrative skills. Henry could now take an army that was a match for any contemporary position. However the French proved their experience and fled away from the battle leaving the damage to be done to be limited.

This case meant that only a few miles could be reached a day and the season could finish before it has even started. So Henry satisfied himself with taking the countryside of France, the town of Therouanne and the episocal city of Tournai. The capture of this imperial city lay much of the glory of the invasion as it was known internationally therefore carried out prestige. Henry returned from 1513 certain that 1514 would see him being crowned king of France. However due to bad weather this was not to happen, with his “so called” alliances breaking up talks through bribes Henry saw that his ream was distancing away from him.

So instead Henry made peace with France. The negotiations lay upon that Henry could regain the lands he had captured the previous year and in return Mary- Henry’s sister would become the wife of Louis XII. By the time this peace treaty was signed between the two forces Henry had lost much of his interest in domestic diplomacy, although he was still keen to hunt for glory he had lost the hard work it involved thus he needed someone to arrange affairs for him. The man to do this of course was Wolsey. This formed the relationship between king and servant.

When Wolsey was asked to do something by Henry he had to perform the task given, no matter to what extent and to what grief it caused, as long as the task was done so rightly. The relationship between the two was also formed where Wolsey was used to distant the nobles from Henry. During the reign of Henry’s father, much of the nobles power was suppressed and no freedom was given, however with Henry 8th being in charge the nobles enjoyed a more wealthy lifestyle-this could in turn affect Henry’s throne as the nobles could revolt against Henry and take to his throne.

Nevertheless, with Wolsey around he limited the amount of promotion through the hierarchical structure of “the chain of great being” a secured the throne for Henry. This was done, as Wolsey wasn’t born in the royal family therefore for that reason Henry knew he had no claim to the throne and could never have challenged Henry to the kingdom. Despite his brilliance Wolsey wasn’t experienced in foreign affairs and had to compete with the well-established experts of Louis’s advisors. However, even Wolsey knew that this treaty was to be taken as no more then a bluff between two ancient counter parts.

In the proceedings of Henry’s domestic affairs the relations in the international scene had changed dramatically. France’s king Louis XII had died and was succeeded by his nephew Francis I. Like Henry, Francis was talented, educated, and was a young King. A clash between two personalities was sensed here. This rival started by Francis challenging Henry and calling him a “young buccaneer of Europe” and by secretly marrying Henry’s sister Mary with her lost love The Duke Of Suffolk. This was now twice marriage was granted without permission to which caused humiliation to Henry.

With the proceedings of Mary fledging away the rest of Europe made way for another “king on the block. ” Charles V. Succeeded from his father Ferdinand of Spain in 1516 Charles was also continuing the pattern of young fortune with himself only being 15 yrs. Old. Ferdinand added the existing Spanish kingdoms to his burgundian lands whereby Charles also took the role of Maximillian who had also passed his time. This gave great worries to the king of England and made him painfully aware of the two super powers growing in Europe. Accordingly his roles had to play a different part.

In the year 1517 Henry reputation was enhanced by him taking the role of peacemaker. It is said by many that Wolsey formulated this initiative. This was not only because of his role as assistant but Wolsey preferred peace to warfare due to economic costs and the end results. It has been assumed that as Wolsey shaped much of this peace inventiveness it was his foreign policy as he came up with the ideas and Henry led them. In October 1518 the treaty of London was inaugurated with the English and French the first to sign. This treaty was designed to bring peace amongst the 20 states of Europe.

It was said by many that the Pope first ignited the idea from preventing the Ottoman Empire from conquering Europe. This idea was then stolen by Wolsey, as he was the trusted one to spread the treaty but took the idea himself and put Henry’s name toward it. This could then be argued, as historians such as Pollard believed he was a true follower of Christendom and wanted to secure the papacy. The treaty entailed a protection where there was a non-aggression policy and only war was to brake out when a state was to discard the treaty.

Was this a peace initiative or was this only to equal the powers with Henry’s? During the next two years Wolsey worked on this peace initiative and was rewarded with the “field of cloth of gold” in 1520. This was said to be one of the most spectacular meetings to date. This was participated by many of the senior elites of the two countries. This was merely a show of wealth and of course a public relations exercise to publicise the fact that Henry was exercising the universal peace treaty and was not taking sides in the rivalry between France and Charles’s empire.

In fact, talks were unfinished between the two during the proceedings of the field of gold. With Wolsey having the task to fulfil Henry’s dreams, he also had some of his own-or were they? Wolsey had the contention of being Pope; Charles V who said he would back Wolsey up in elections where in fact backed much of this as a lie and only misleads him to vote elsewhere. Much of the dream was inspired by Charles who also convinced Henry that it would be a good thing if the King assistant would be the head of Catholicism in Europe. Thus meant that Henry pushed for it more then Wolsey actually did.

Wolsey was a skilled politician who would not have made such basic mistakes if it wasn’t for his aspiration to be elected to the papacy, as Pollard rightly quoted. As Charles inherited the Hapsburg Empire along with the other empires he also took the resistance that came along with it. As Francis had an aggressive personality quarrels still lay toward the state of Milan and whom it rightfully belonged to. This was seen as yet another opportunity for the English to intervene in some way. With Francis wanting to take military action and fast Charles called for the aid of England.

In 1521 Charles and Wolsey met up to deal with the situation. The outcome of the meeting lay in the actions of the French. If the French decided to take action then the Empire of Charles’s V and the support of Henry will join together and rebel. Wolsey thought this mere threat would be enough to scare the French away, conversely due to the inexperience Wolsey had of Francis’s pig headiness war was inevitable and the English sent an army in the year 1523 near the end of the campaigning season. During the proceedings war came to its usual end in the 16th century, which was disappointing.

As a result of this the dream for intervention again evaporated where Wolsey was stalling talks between Charles and secretly negotiating peace with France. However luck turned against Henry and in 1525, Charles secured a decisive victory in the north of Italy and left England shell shocked. Henry, now treating Charles as his best friend thought he could reclaim the crown of France but there a different perspective lay. With Francis now out the picture what would stop Charles from pushing England out the way as well? What was the point of exchanging one ambitious king for another with more power?

As France was leaderless Henry thought an attack could be made. Due to insufficient funds this didn’t happen and peace was the alternative. Wolsey, diligent to do so encouraged the league of Cognac in 1526 and signed another treaty with France to attack Charles if sufficient peace wasn’t made. However this was merely a small threat that couldn’t be carried out with France virtually defenceless. And it was only in the last minute that England was included in the treaty of Cambrai (1529) with France, and the empire to bring all fighting to an end.

If Wolsey had not engineered this involvement in the treaty as he did so Henry would not have had the same respect as the French and the holy roman emperor. Nevertheless Henry’s loyalties lay in the crown of France and although Wolsey gave him the respect he wanted he didn’t do so in terms of warfare and land- especially France. Wolsey came to an end in 1529 where he was beheaded. Henry’s influence in foreign affairs is said to be in dominance of Cardinal Wolsey. He was a man of great ability and when given a task he was sired to complete it to the best of his ability.

It was said that that the relationship between the two was not that of a king and servant but of something else. Henry gave the task to Wolsey and Wolsey completed this, and from time to time matters had to be taken into his own hands because of the stress it would cause Henry. Wolsey was headed in 1529 because of the one promise he failed to reach which was the kingdom of France. It is said that this was never achieved because of the economic and political situation, which Wolsey couldn’t control and therefore cannot be treated as his fault.

Considering the circumstances England’s foreign policy was considerably successful. Not only was Henry recognised equally amongst greater powers in Europe but also he gained the status in Europe he needed. However, Henry’s main aim was the capture of French territory and if this wasn’t to be achieved his policy was considered as a failure. From a negative point of view no land was gained apart from the minor town of Tournai, which had no real value except its recognition. This makes you wonder would Henry had sacrificed his other foreign policy objectives for the land of France?


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