Henry Viii Foreign Policy Aims

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  • Topic: Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Mary I of England, House of Valois
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  • Published : April 14, 2013
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Objectives of Henry VIII’s Foreign Policy

1. Enhance his reputation and ambition. Comparisons with other great warrior Kings eg. Henry V.

2. Pursue rivalry with France.
Claim to title of King of France.
Nobility and soldiers keen to fight in France.
Threat of close relations and possible alliances between France and Scotland.

3. Honour and Glory.
Warfare was the way Kings achieved this. David Potter is quite sceptical about such high flown ambitions but other historians believe that this objective underpinned Henry’s character. Driving factor was rivalry with Francis I and Charles V. 3 ambitious young monarchswin the early 16th C. Comparing well with his rivals was important to Henry. His 1540s Foreign Policy echoed his earlier ambitions. “revival of youthful dreams.” Scarisbrick.

4. Maintain links with Netherlands.
Cloth and money markets in Antwerp vital to England.
Netherlands within Hapsburg Empire – possible ally against traditional rivals, France.

5. Role as a peacemaker.
Achievement of honour in this way was apparent under Wolsey c 1518.

6. Take advantage of changes in the balance of Power.
Alliance with one or other parties in Hapsburg Valois rivalry. Strategic position
If Hapsburg alliance – encirclement of France
If Valois alliance – cut links between Spanish Netherlands & Spain.

7. Secure dynasty.
Attempts at dynastic marriages Engagements of Mary & Charles V
Edward & Mary Queen of Scots.

8. Secure the French Pension. (compensation for French areas previously under English control.) David Potter sees this as “one of the few constants” in Henry’s foreign policy, part financial and part honour. Henry’s other objectives could be very variable. Demand for pension was pressed in all Henry’s wars with France. The fact that wars cost more than the worth of the pension suggests honour was significant.

9. Conquest of Scotland.
Some historians suggest this was part...
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