Aims and Successes of Henry VII’s Foreign Policy

1. Foreign Policy

  • Is there one? Domestic/foreign split not in vogue then.

2. What are policy aims?

  • For nobility and landed class:
    • aim is to win honour and glory in war, especially against France;
    • meaning of the English word ‘policy’ – means fighting the French and conquering their territory.
  • For Henry VII:
    • security: plots, frontiers and Channel ports (Britain, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Spain)
    • finance (customs revenues)
    • prestige in Europe, some offensive aims
    • dynastic policy (later marriages)

3. Who participated in foreign policy? King, councillors, nobles, who?

  • foreign policy discussed at Great Councils, crown wearings/wearing of purple: Epiphany, Easter, Whitsuntide, All Saints, Christmas; discussed at meetings that are an extension of King’s Council. 224 members during Henry’s reign;
  • Morton, Fox (led retinue despite being a bishop), nobles all prominent;
  • City of London, not much involved in policy apart from Mayor;
  • Parliament not much involved in policy.

4. 1492 Boulogne campaign

  • about security, money, prestige
  • some key figures stayed home: Morton, Lord Dynham (treasurer)
  • Reynold Bray (treasurer of war, president of Council) important in this campaign
  • when they got there, policy debated in a Council of War made up of the King, nobles, captains, councillors. Debate the Articles of War, but unusual campaign because Henry already knew before he went that he wanted to settle.

5. Scotland – security

  • James IV helps Warbeck in 1495 and 1496;
  • 1497 James IV accepts truce of Ayton. Having missed opportunity to profit from the Cornish rising, expels Warbeck and agrees to series of truces;
  • 1502 treaty of Perpetual Peace and marriage of James to Margaret Tudor.

6. Ireland (not strictly ‘foreign’) – security

  • May 1487, Simnel crowned in Ireland as Edward VI, and invaded England. Policy in Ireland a mixture of carrot and stick: general pardon, followed by bonds and new oath of allegiance.
  • 1491-2 Warbeck in Ireland. Increase in royal and military intervention. Warbeck back 1495. Sir Edward Poynings sent (1494-5) to crush the Yorkists.
  • Overall policy to keep the Pale loyal by delegating government to trusted nobles.
  • English legislation on retaining adapted for Ireland and the Irish Parliament to meet only with the King’s consent.

7. France – security, prestige

  • 1489-92 key period. Security, prestige: Henry seeks to aid Brittany against quick absorption by Charles VIII, and wants France not to support Henry’s rebels.
  • 1489: Henry agreed to aid Brittany by the treaty of Redon (Feb). 1st expedition to Brittany: 6000 troops were sent under Lord Daubeney. But Anne of Brittany had to agree to reimburse his expenses, surrender two towns as security, and make no peace, truce or marriage with France without Henry’s consent. Clause added with offensive aim: the Bretons to support any future campaign Henry might undertake against France for the recovery of his ‘right.’
  • July 1490: 2nd expedition to Brittany. September: amity between Henry VII, Spain and Maximilian against France. Anne affliliates with this coalition.
  • December 1491: Anne gave in and married Charles VIII.
  • 1492: Henry VII made a show of strength, offensive and defensive aims (asserted Henry V’s claim to the French Crown). Invaded northern France with 26,000 men. Charles VIII’s eyes were turning to Italy, and his aim was to make a quick treaty. Treaty of Etaples by which Charles VIII agreed to drop his support for Perkin Warbeck and other rebels, to indemnify the costs of Henry’s interventions in Brittany, and to reimburse the arrears of Edward IV’s pension due by 1475 treaty.

8. Spain – dynastic, security

  • 1488, negotiations began for the betrothal of Arthur.
  • 1489, Medina del Campo: Spain closed to Yorkist pretenders and alliance with England.
  • 1501, the marriage to Arthur and Catherine takes place. Arthur died in 1502. Henry negotiates for Henry, his second son. Henry expected to marry Catherine after his fourteenth birthday, but the wedding postponed by Henry VII, who has alternative plans for alliances with the Netherlands and France. In 1503, Elizabeth of York died in childbirth. Henry was able to remarry. He began to negotiate with France, Spain and Netherlands.

9. Netherlands (and HR Empire) – security, finance, dynasty

  • Henry wants deal with Maximilian and his son Archduke Philip: trade to increase customs revenues plus Warbeck. NB Margaret of Burgundy (Edward IV’s sister – widow of Charles the Bold) supports Perkin Warbeck. Her dower lands in Netherlands, which give her freedom of action.
  • 1496: Magnus Intercursus, trade treaty that also closed the Netherlands to Henry’s dynastic rivals, a major treaty.
  • November 1504, Isabella of Castile died: Archduke Philip became the rival of Ferdinand of Aragon for the regency of Castille. Henry VII had to choose. Policy veered towards Philip.
  • January 1506: Philip and his wife, Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, blown ashore onto the English coast near Weymouth en route for Castille, Henry VII entertained them for three months. By the treaty of Windsor, he recognized Philip as King of Castille, and the two rulers promised mutual defence and assistance against each other’s rebels. By a second treaty, Philip pledged to marry his sister, Margaret, now regent of the Netherlands, to Henry VII.
  • April 1506: Malus Intercursus treaty between Henry and Philip so called because the Netherlanders believed it to be too generous to England. When Philip died (Sept 1506), Henry cheated of his investments (£342k).

10. Successes or not?

  • Success achieved against rebels.
  • Security from invasion achieved.
  • Dynastic marriages so-so. Not much progress in Ireland.
  • Commercial treaties overrated: those with the Netherlands had to be unpicked: subordinated trade to security. Henry VIII has to start again with Charles V (son of Philip and Joanna).
  • Later foreign policy: huge cost to domestic revenue pulls Henry VII down in later years.
  • Henry was lucky that France was embroiled in Italy and Naples after 1494.

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