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How successful was English foreign policy in the years 1509 1529?

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How successful was English foreign policy in the years 1509 - 1529? During these years Henry VIII was the monarch on the English throne, and his foreign policy reflected both his hunger for personal glory, and his desire to see England become a major power in Europe. During the later part of his reign, it seems his wish to control vast parts of Europe, and be an important player in politics, waned; but for the first twenty years of Henry's reign, from 1509-1529, important decisions and actions of the Monarch were dominated by foreign policy, and it was during this time that Thomas Wolsey, Henry's eventual right hand man, would rise to prominence. English policy enjoyed both successes and failures - but it is arguable as to what extent these successes reached. In 1511 was Henry's first opportunity to increase the reach of his control, and take part of France. King Louis XII, who the current ruler of France, had invaded Italy; leaving the Pope Julius II in a position where he was under threat. The Pope formed a Holy League agreement with Ferdinand, King of Spain, and as his son in-law, Henry offered his services. ...read more.


This was a great success for both Henry and Wolsey in regards to Foreign policy. The new French King was Francis I, and at this summit it was decided that Francis and Henry would meet again in a few years - to cement the peace treaty made. After the Treaty of London occurred, Henry began to make changes to his advisors; trying to shift from the chivalric young man he had been, to a more serious 'kingly' element. On the 7th of June, 1520, was the summit between Henry and Francis; it took place in France and was named 'The Field of the Cloth of Gold'. It was a lavish, over the top, display of wealth; with both Kings trying to outdo each other as a status symbol. However all the extravagance of the event came to nothing; as peace was already beginning to break down - Francis was considering waging war on the new Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, who Wolsey was conducting secret talks with, in the hope that he would be a help in Wolsey's personal quest for the papacy. ...read more.


During the years 1509 up until 1529, there had been both successes and failures in England's external affairs; he had not got off to a good start with Charles letting him down in France in 1511, but this was redeemed with Wolsey's help in 1512. After that he enjoyed success at first, and had minor militaristic achievements in Scotland, although he never took it under English control. His pioneering peace conference was definitely a major success, although short lived, and after a while it appeared there was nothing Wolsey and Henry could come up with that would see England become a major power in Europe - which of course had been Henry's ultimate aim. It seems that for each small success Henry enjoyed, he was let down by fickle allies. In conclusion, during these years English foreign policy was flexible, occasionally to the point of being contradictory. However, it seems no matter which way they turned, achieving Henry's goals, both personal and in Europe (though these were closely entwined, and often drove policy) was impossible, due to factors outside of Wolsey's and Henry's control. England just wasn't important enough for any policies made to be effective without the support of other, politically larger, countries or nations. ...read more.

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**** A good answer which needs to be factor led rather than narrative-led. Candidate demonstrates a high level of knowledge and understanding but needs to arrange ideas in a more analytical way to demonstrate a high level of critical thinking.

Marked by teacher Natalie Stanley 08/01/2013

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