Edward Vi Foreign Policy

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‘Foreign policy in Edward’s reign was an ignominious failure’. To what to extent do you agree with this?

When analysing the foreign policy of Edward VI’s reign, it is essential that one recognises that Edward was a minor and it was his protectors, the Dukes of Somerset an Northumberland, that were chiefly responsible for England’s foreign policy at this time. While there is debate on this topic, it is generally documented that the foreign policy of Edward’s reign was not as successful as the previous Tudors.

Foreign policy during Somerset’s years of control was dominated, and many would say blighted, by the campaign in Scotland. After a crushing victory at the Battle of Pinkie in September 1547, he set up a network of garrisons in Scotland, stretching as far north as Dundee. This was a great success for England; it is estimated that more than 5000 Scots were killed in the battle and England controlled vast amounts of Scottish land.

His initial successes, however, were followed by a loss of direction, as his aim of uniting the countries through conquest became increasingly unrealistic. The garrisons were expensive to maintain, poorly equipped and highly unpopular with the locals. Their inadequacies were particularly evident when the Scots forced the English out of Haddington Castle. This failed campaign resulted in a treaty between the French and the Scots. England now faced the threat of a French invasion from their northern border as well as from the channel, which put England in an compromising situation and showed Somerset’s poor management of foreign policy.

England’s interest with Scotland was in part due to the prospective marriage of Edward and Mary, with the aim to improve relations between the neighbouring countries. Her being taken by the French was a failure of Somerset’s since it undermined English foreign policy and greatened the links between France and Scotland - it was arranged that Mary would instead marry the new French king, Henry...
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