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Who controlled English foreign affairs in 1515-1529 - Henry or Wolsey?

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Introduction

Who controlled English foreign affairs in 1515-1529 - Henry or Wolsey? A common view of Henry VIII's and Wolsey's foreign policy is that it was a failure. Reasons for this view are that Henry failed to achieve his primary goal, which was to recover the French empire, which had been, conquered by Henry V. This aim was unrealistic. Henry had high objectives, which were inexperienced. Henry's policy was often illogical, which allowed more cunning operators, such as Ferdinand of Aragon and Emperor Maximilian, to manipulate him. Henry unlike Wolsey wanted war and glory whereas Wolsey was trying to gain peace. Henry's first success in glory was in 1514 with the peace with France after the battle of spurs, the war was too expensive to continue but Henry has glory and gets recognised as a "player" in Europe. As king, Henry inherited from his father a budget surplus and a precedent for autocratic rule. In 1511, Henry joined Pope Julius II, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and the Venetians in their Holy League against France. Historians have argued about Wolsey's motives for his foreign policy and many believe that there was not one foreign policy but two, i.e. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore Wolsey believed the Treaty of London would bring peace. This was a successful attempt at bringing peace as all the powers of Europe signed and agreed yet it was considered only a "breathing space" for the great powers of Europe. Peace, however, was far from lasting. Encouraged by Charles V, Henry VIII [against Wolsey's advice] invaded France in 1523. The English invaders were soon forced to withdraw, and Francis I of France was confident enough to invade Italy in 1525. The peace treaty collapsed in 1521 due to Francis capturing Navarre from Charles V. The rivalry between Charles V and Francis I was useful for Wolsey and Henry. In 1522 Henry again wanted glory as he tries again to defeat France, Thomas Howard led the invasion of France. Yet this was failure the English armies were beaten and the war achieved nothing and was unpopular in England. In 1525 Wolsey creates a taxation to pay for Henry's foreign campaign, the "Amicable grant" causes riots in East Angelica and the Duke of Wolfolk was sent to put down the rebellion. Wolsey was then forced to abandon this taxation and publicly apologise to Henry. ...read more.

Conclusion

What Wolsey understood was that, when there was peace between France and Spain, England became isolated, and it was pointless for England to ally with one of the two, Enlgand was considered unneeded. Therefore, it was beneficial for England, in the hope of gaining new territory and influence, that there be continual conflict between the two powers. Between 1515 and 1517, England was very much isolated because of the peaceful relations between France and Spain. Wolsey had to assert English influence through another means, so he conveniently chose peace. The Treaty of London [1518] showed Wolsey as the arbiter of Europe, organising a massive peace summit involving twenty nations. This put England at the forefront of European diplomacy and drew it out of isolation, making England a desirable ally. This is well illustrated by the Anglo-French treaty signed two days afterwards. Both Henry and Wolsey failed in practical diplomacy, but over the time both gained what each of them wanted. Wolsey gained legatus a later and Henry gained the prestige and the opportunity to be the chivalrous king of the Middle Ages. From this we could say that foreign policy was both Hnery's and Wolsey's even though it seems Wolsey did the majority of the work. Clare Worsfold ...read more.

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