How far was Foreign Policy during Henry VIII's reign influenced by religious considerations?
- Foreign Policy under Henry VIII was dictated first and foremost by political considerations – by power politics
- Only in 1530s did religion enter into his considerations
- Even in 1530s the basic issues were political
- 3 wars against France - 1512-1514, 1522-1523 and 1543-1546
- 2 against Scotland - battle of Flodden 1513 and battle of Solway Moss 1542
- All were fought for political reasons
- Catholic England fought Catholic France because Henry wanted to give substance to his claim to the French throne
- Also wanted personal military glory as a young king and as an admirer of Henry V the victor at Agincourt
- Waged war against Catholic Scotland to break her alliance with France and to subject Scotland to his will
- 1511 Henry joined Holy League
- The name of this alliance doesn't hide the fact that it had a political purpose and it was directed at France
- Henry was denied real success in his first French War
- This was partly because of his allies' unreliability
- So from 1514-21 he followed Wolsey's peace policy
- Sought to exert influence as Europe's arbiter in the match of heavyweights from France, Spain and Holy Roman Empire
- Wolsey's role has been open to debate
- AF Pollard: Wolsey (1929): Wolsey's diplomacy was designed to ingratiate himself with the papacy in order that he might one day become pope
- GR Elton:Reform and Reformation (1977): He wanted to retain his legacy so as to lord it over the English Church; any religious consideration here is second to motives of power and profit; it was Henry, prompted by Emperor Charles V, who urged the reluctant Wolsey to stand in the papal elections of 1521 and 1523 (unsuccessful); a pope who would act in the Anglo-Imperial interest against France would be a great political asset
- JJ Scarisbrick: HenryVIII (1968): Denied Wolsey went out of his way to please the papacy; said Wolsey sought peace in England's interest – not the papacy's
- Note: Wolsey's pacifism may have been founded partly on moral or humanist grounds
- But – the main purpose was political – to use England's weight to best advantage in a European power-struggle centred on the Italian Wars
- He saw himself as the peaceful arbiter of Europe
- Henry liked this as long as it seemed to carry some force
- Henry and Wolsey gloried briefly in the Treaty of London (1518) and the Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520)
- England's diplomatic strength was illusory though
- The peace would last only as long as it suited Charles V and Francis I
- Henry was easily tempted into war with against France
- However Wolsey's motives whether peace for the papacy's sake or for England – either would benefit Henry and his minister in some respects – and these were political; the exercise of power and influence in Europe
- 1521 the pope gave Henry the title 'Defender of the Faith', though this made little difference to his Foreign Policy which was directed against Catholic powers for political reasons, not against Protestant powers for religious reasons
- Henry's second French War (1522-3) failed through lack of money and lack of assistance from Charles V
- There was a change in the direction of Foreign Policy in late 1520s, but the main considerations were still political
- After the Battle of Pavia (1525) Charles was more interested in Italy than an invasion of France with the English
- Henry's hopes of divorcing Catherine of Aragon (Charles V's aunt) ended when Pope Clement VII was captured after the Sack of Rome (1527)
- England's Foreign Policy was now dictated by the divorce question
- It arose from political and personal considerations
- Henry wanted to remarry and secure the Tudor succession
- This destroyed relations with Charles and led to the break with Rome
- Henry's break with Rome was not for religious reasons as he remained a Catholic
- He wanted to control the Church in England, and its wealth, and he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn and try to get a son
- Although the King's 'Great Matter' led to much biblical and canon law research, this issue was not a religious one as such
- But, the enactment of the royal supremacy made Henry a schismatic
- 1538 he was excommunicated
- Rome now invited the Roman Catholic states to depose him
- Religion now became a factor in Henry's Foreign Policy; but it did not dictate it
- The danger of isolation and invasion made Henry adopt Thomas Cromwell's scheme of alliance with the Lutheran princes of the Schmalkaldic League in Germany
- This would be sealed by the royal marriage to Anne of Cleves
- England's official Church doctrine now moved towards Lutheranism in the 10 Articles of 1536 and the Bishops' Book (1537)
- This was a means to an end not an end in itself
- The ends themselves were political: the security of England and Henry's supremacy in it
- This phase was short-lived – the move towards Lutheranism, the marriage to Anne of Cleves and Cromwell's life
- Foreign Policy was dictated by power politics during Henry's last wars against France and Scotland (1542-6)
- Another political consideration arose in the war with Scotland – Henry wanted to betroth his son to Mary Stuart
- Even after the defeat at Solway Moss (1542) the Scots refused
- Religion was rarely more than a peripheral matter in Foreign Policy
- Protestantism on the continent hampered the Emperor and the pope, sometimes to Henry's advantage
- Religious considerations never dictated Foreign Policy in England
- It was political considerations that mattered in issues of war, peace and dynastic security
Find a list of ideas for Research Paper Topics, Term Papers and/or Essays for English History, Tudor England and other themed based papers.
list of Research Paper topics
- What contributions did Elizabeth Tudor make to society?
- What were Henry VIII military accomplishments?
- Crime/Punishment in Tudor England
- What were Henry VIII writings?
- Powerful women in Tudor England
- The conditions of Poor in Tudor England
- Why did the people love Elizabeth I?
- What was the nature of Henry VIII supremacy over the church and what was parliament’s role in this?
- In what ways did Puritanism constitute a threat to the Elizabethan constitution?
- In what ways did Roman Catholicism constitute a threat to Elizabethan constitution?
- What was the kinship in theology between Geneva and the Marian exiles (1553-1558)?
- To what extent did Elizabeth I control parliament?
- Assess Tyndale’s contribution to the English Reformation
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- What positive contributions did Thomas Wolsey make in affairs of religion and state?
- What was the so-called Elizabethan Settlement in religion 1559?
- Who were recusants, why were they so named and how did Elizabeth I deal with them?
- What exactly was Thomas Cranmer’s theological position?
- What if anything was unique about Tudor architecture?
- How would you explain the fact that Tudor England produced its own music and not its own painters or sculptors?
- How did the Tudor monarch go about raising an army in time of war of rebellion?
- What were the principles and practices of Tudor medicine?
- What was the reaction of various people to the execution of Mary Stuart?
- Compare the Spanish ships in the Armada with the English ships?
- Was the English revolution of 1649-60 a failure or success?