England, due to Henry VII’s passive involvement in European politics was not seen as an important country in 1509 as it was not a threat. An alliance between the Papacy, the Holy Roman Empire, France and Spain were united against Venice. The geographical position of England meant that the ‘battleground’ of Europe was far away and therefore England was distanced from Europe and no one was really worried about England due to Henry VII foreign policy which was all about homeland security and the security of the throne. This alliance in Europe, the League of Cambrai in 1508 meant that the potential for England to have international influence in 1509 was small.
In 1509, when Henry VIII came to power, he wanted England to become a powerful nation. To do this he would probably have to be militaristic and he did this by in 1512 declaring war on France. Driven by xenophobia and a young man’s need to prove himself in fighting, conquest and victory he invaded and led by Wolsey eventually led to England capturing Tournai and Therouanne in Northern France in 1513. These however were ‘soft targets’ and they did not do anything to serve English interests and more to serve their allies. For example, Ferdinand and Maximillian signed separate treaties with France after England’s campaign to leave England to fight France alone.
In October 1518 an Anglo–French peace treaty was signed and this was the first time England had been actively involved in European politics. Pope Leo X had sent a representative to England to mobilize a campaign against the Ottomans. Wolsey however refused this and made an international treaty of peace and friendship, this was called the Treaty of London. This shows how England tried to influence European politics and succeeded. The treaty included over twenty countries including some of the major powers including Francis I, Maximillian, Charles I and the Pope. The treaty however still didn’t really influence European relations as wars still continued.
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Another way in which Henry VIII tried to influence European politics was to meet Francis I outside Calais in 1520. This meeting was called the Field of Cloth of Gold. Here Henry tried to enforce the Treaty of London but it was mainly to show England as a powerful nation and to impress France.
For example, Henry spent a year’s revenue to have a train of 6000 people following him. Henry thought the meeting was a success as he believed that the event bought him a badge of honour. The meeting however did not accomplish anything to do with France and England being an ally because in 1522 there was the second French war. This involved Charles V but England was abandoned by her allies and England did not achieve anything.
The Second French war shows how England was abandoned by Charles the V, the same thing had happened in the First French war. This shows how even though Henry tried England was seen as not a dominant force and only helpful for them. That is why England was abandoned by the allied during this period.
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