Edward VI Protector Somerset



Edward VI Protector Somerset


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Edward VI Protector Somerset


Edward VI- Protector Somerset


Under Edward there was a general change in emphasis of foreign policy rather than a complete change in direction. Protector Somerset (had been Hertford) continued to remain focussed on Scotland (some links can be drawn with the end of Henry VIII’s reign e.g. the Treaty of Greenwich), but began to turn away from involvement in France so as to focus on both sorting the problems within England, and free himself to deal with the problems in Scotland IS HENRY VIII THE LAST ENGLISH KING TO SEEK CONQUEST IN FRANCE? (whilst Elizabeth gets involved aiding the Huguenots, was she ultimately seeking conquest?)


 Somerset wanted to unite England and Scotland by marrying Edward to Mary Queen of Scots (as the Treaty Of Greenwich under Henry VIII had intended to do). The key question here is one of motive; was the principle aim of this to safeguard the dynasty, or were there other motives involved as well such as national security (as this would end the Auld Alliance) and possible glory? Like Henry VIII (who after the Scots scrapped the Treaty of Greenwich and renewed the Auld Alliance) who launched a punitive border raid against the Scots in 1544, followed by a series of other raids as part of his “Rough Wooing” (attempts to force the Scots into agreeing to his marriage requests) Somerset too reacted with military action when the marriage plans failed.


In 1547 Somerset signed a treaty with Francis I of France (so that Somerset could concentrate on issues in Scotland which was now his principle foreign policy aim), and on Francis’ death tried signing one with his son Henri II. This however broke over the issue Boulogne and Calais, with Anglo Spanish relations continuing to deteriorate. In1547 Somerset went on the offensive against the Scots and invaded, however the reasons/motives for this are open to debate. Was it:


  1. An attempt to force Mary Queen of Scots into marrying Edward? (would suggest he was motivated by dynastic security)


  1. A response to the arrival of French troops in Scotland in 1547? (would suggest he was motivated more by national security)


In September 1547, Somerset invaded Scotland, defeating the Scots at Pinkie. Although victorious, Somerset faced the question of how to secure his victory (a good contrast is with Henry VIII, who by failing to take any further action against the Scots at Flodden e.g. he failed to occupy it, ensured that the Scots remained a threat throughout his reign). Rather than launch a series of further raids into Scotland as Henry had done (with little success!) Somerset tried to both win round Scottish nobles to the English cause, whilst at the same time threatening the Scots into agreeing to his demands. Although Henry VIII had tried to do something similar in the past by using the Scottish nobles captured at Solway Moss as the nucleus of a pro English party within Scotland (and Henry VII had tired negotiating with the pro English Archibald Douglas), Somerset went further by establishing English garrisons in Scotland. These permanent garrisons, which were to be manned by English soldiers were designed to allow England to both support and protect the Pro English Lords and threaten and coerce the Scottish government into agreeing to the marriage between Edward and Mary Queen of Scots. NOTICE THE EXAMPLES OF CONTRAST AND CONTINUITY WITH HENRY VIII. To a lesser extent, financial motives were also apparent with this policy, with Somerset (incorrectly) judging that maintaining a number of permanent garrisons would be cheaper than launching regular raids. In spite of this Somerset spent £580,000 in 2 years, double the cost of Henry’s 5 years of war against the Scots!


As part of his garrisoning policy, Somerset tried encouraging Protestantism in Scotland, aware that this could bring the English and Scots closer together and help undermine the Auld Alliance. Although this was not successful under Somerset’s protectorship , it is interesting to note that it did begin to bear fruit in the long term, particularly under Elizabeth. IN THE LONG TERM, THE GARRISONING POLICY WAS A KEY TURNING POINT IN TERMS OF ANGLO SCOTTISH RELATIONS.


The effects of Somerset’s policy towards the Scots


After Pinkie, Henry II became more concerned about Scotland and feared losing an ally, so took up status as “Protector of Scotland”. Somerset’s aggression towards Scotland had in turn encouraged a far more aggressive policy towards England from the French. In 1548 French troops occupied Edinburgh and took Mary to marry the Dauphin in France, where she would be safe from English interference, ensuring the French could continue to use her to threaten England with. The Garrisoning policy turned out to be a failure (at least in the short term), and largely unable to protect the pro English Scots, those nobles who had previously pledged their loyalty were starting to turn.


In 1549, Henri II declared war on England, and although little happened (the focus was on Boulogne) the threat appeared extremely grave. 1549 was “the year of rebellions”; Around 2/3 of English counties saw anti enclosure riots, 15,000 rebelled in Norfolk and Suffolk as part of Kett’s Rebellion, and a similar number rebelled in Cornwall in the Western (or Prayer book) Rebellion. Although the French never attempted an invasion, such an invasion could have been devastating with English troops largely occupied in dealing with these internal disturbances. NOTICE HOW IT IS USUALLY ENGLAND’S POLICIES TOWARDS FRANCE THAT INFLUENCE RELATIONS WITH SCOTLAND, HOWEVER HERE IT IS THE OTHER WAY ROUND.


How did foreign policy concerns affect Somerset’s internal policies?


Somerset was sensible in trying to appear a religious conservative. This was to keep Charles V’s support in order to secure mercenaries from Flanders (to help deal with internal disturbances and protect the country from potential invasion) and to prevent the French from using Dutch ports should they try and aid the Scots. This was sufficient to keep a major French army out of Scotland.


Relations with Netherlands/ Spain


Somerset’s main focus was on Scotland (and given the Auld Alliance, France). As a result of a combination of this and relatively positive relations With Spain/ Netherlands he inherited from Henry VIII, relations with Spain/ Netherlands were of no great interest to Somerset.




Foreign Policy under Northumberland


Somerset was removed as protector in 1549, and replaced by Northumberland. At this time, England was experiencing a series of internal crisis’; inflation had increased sharply due to Henry VIII’s (and then Somerset’s) decision to debase the coinage, as well as the ruinously expensive cost of war (Somerset had spent nearly £1.3 million on war). This in turn had led to increased problems with enclosures (as landowners felt the pinch, they opted to enclose to increase their profit margins). This in turn had led to a series of public order problems, as shown by Kett’s Rebellion, and the series of anti enclosure riots throughout the country that had to be put down by government troops.


Northumberland’s main internal aim was therefore to restore law and order, something that needed peace with France (it does however appear that Somerset was also trying to negotiate with the French just before his fall). The main stumbling block was the price that the French would pay for Boulogne and if the French pension would continue to be paid to England. By pursuing peace with France, and selling Boulogne (which had been won by Henry VIII in his final invasion of France) Northumberland was seen as selling out national pride, however the financial deal he received was acceptable; Boulogne was sold for 400,000 ecus when the French offered 160,000. This was a realistic response from Northumberland, who knew that making some sort of agreement may ultimately stop the French from attacking Calais. The treaty of Boulogne in 1550 (which sold Boulogne) would in 1551 lead to the treaty of Norham, which led to the withdrawl of English troops from Scotland. Notice how improved relations with France herald improved relations with Scotland. In the same year, Edward was also betrothed to the Dauphine Elizabeth of Valois, most likely an attempt to reduce the dynastic threat posed by Mary Queen of Scots.


Trade under Northumberland


1550 saw the collapse of the Antwerp cloth market (trade still continued, but at nowhere near the old levels). The long term effect of this was that good relations with the Spanish were no longer necessary, however immediate problem it posed was how to fill the void left. Northumberland does deserve some credit for his response, setting up a joint stock company aimed at finding a north east passage to China to facilitate further trade. There were also attempts to further trade with Morocco, although these moves were later discouraged by Philip.




Mary’s foreign policy has generally been seen as the worst part of a disastrous reign. Her marriage to Philip (and the subsequent Habsburg alliance) led to parliamentary protests, factional strife and ultimately Wyatt’s Rebellion. In addition to this, they also made the disastrous decision to get involved in the Habsburg Valois Wars on the side of the Spanish (the Habsburgs), causing England to lose Calais, their last piece of territory in Scotland.


Mary’s decision to marry Philip lay at the heart of her foreign policy problems, however the marriage is perhaps not quite as short sited as it is traditionally seen to have been. Dynastic and religious concerns meant she needed a Catholic heir, and whilst she could have married Courtenay (a prominent English Catholic noble) this was not an ideal match, given the fact that he was of Yorkist descent, and mentally weak. By marrying Philip, England could rely on the Habsburgs to protect them from the French (who wanted Calais and had built up an anti English Scottish Alliance). Whilst trade with the Netherlands had been significantly reduced to the collapse of the Antwerp cloth market, Antwerp still remained the destination of a large amount of English cloth, therefore a Spanish alliance also made commercial sense.


Mary was foolish in that she organised the marriage negotiations privately without fully informing her council. This in turn led to splits in the council between Paget (who wanted a Spanish marriage) and Gardiner (who wanted a marriage to Courtenay). Her determination to negotiate in secret increased fears she would favour Spanish advisors and explains why men such as Wyatt opted to rebel to try and prevent the marriage.


Wyatt’s Rebellion


The plan was that there would be 4 simultaneous rebellions throughout the south of England, with the French helping to secure the southern ports in order to prevent the Spanish coming to Mary’s aid. If successful, the rebels wanted to replace Mary with Elizabeth, who they would then marry to Courtenay. The rebellion itself failed, with 3 of the 4 rebellions failing to materialise (the early discovery of the plot had led the rebels to launch the rebellion prematurely). Whilst Wyatt was only able to get around 5,000 supporters, they were able to reach London, demonstrating the anger that the proposed Spanish marriage had generated.


Motives for the rebellion


Wyatt tried to depict the rebellion as being motivated by a fear of Spanish dominance over the Queen and Spanish dominance of patronage. The true motives are however more debatable; by playing on Xenophobia and racism, Wyatt was trying to appeal to as many people as possible, both Protestant and Catholic. On the other hand, Wyatt may have been motivated by self interest. As a Protestant, it is likely that he would have been excluded from government under Mary (he had been in Edward’s Council), therefore rebellion was an attempt by him and other Protestants to regain the favourable positions that they had enjoyed under Edward. If this is the case, it would certainly reduce the blame that should be attached to Mary.  Notice the role of relations with Spain in leading to rebellion. The 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace was partially caused by anger at England’s deteriorating relationship with Spain amongst the pro Spanish, Catholic Aragonese faction (Darcy and Hussey). Wyatt’s Rebellion however was caused by anger amongst anti Spanish groups, angered by the move towards Spain.


The aftermath of the Rebellion


Although Wyatt’s Rebellion failed and the Spanish marriage went ahead, legislation was brought in by parliament to deal with some of the concerns raised in Wyatt’s Rebellion. The treaty dictated that only Mary would have policy making and patronage privileges, and Philip’s titles and rights would die with Mary. If they had a son he would inherit England, the Netherlands and Franche Comte (the latter two were Spanish possessions). Spain would also be his if Philip’s son from his first marriage died.  After February 1554 with the defeat of Wyatt, there were no more major internal problems for Mary.


The impact of the Anglo Spanish Marriage on Foreign Policy


Initially the marriage did not have a great impact on foreign policy, with Mary unwilling to go to war, rejecting Philip’s calls for assistance. In 1557 however she got involved in the Habsburg-Valois wars on the side of the Spanish, a move opposed by many of her council who knew England could not afford it.


There are several interpretations regarding why she got involved; the French decision to sponsor a disastrous private invasion by Thomas Stafford in 1557 certainly gave her the excuse she needed, however there is also the possibility that she was concerned about her dynastic security. Up to this point, Philip had spent just 6 months in England since their marriage, and facilitating a Spanish victory would increase the chance of getting POhillip to England and create an heir. It could also be argued that she was motivated by a desire to prove England as a worthy ally for Spain. Certainly religion played no role- France was a Catholic power- and Pope Paul IV actually sided with France!


Once war was declared, people did rally around her, but due to the poor muster system and the 1555-7 famine she struggled to raise troops. Shrewsbury was sent to safeguard the north from Scottish incursions (notice the similarity with previous monarchs) however by the time English troops got to Europe most of the fighting was over. In January 1558 however, the French launched a surprise attack on Calais outside of the campaigning season. With the garrison on peacetime footing resistance was difficult, and Calais lost. Mary was reluctant to take it back, fearful of both the costs of such an invasion and of what the Scots may do should she be tied down with France.


Trade under Mary


Similar to Northumberland who had tried to establish new trading outlets, Mary began trading with Russia, setting up the Muscovy company in 1555. Mary was not however as successful in other aspects of trade, where she was let down by Philip (who never completely severed his links with the Scots). Philip continued to fiercely guard Spain’s trading networks with the Americas, and refused to assist the English Merchant adventurers when they quarrelled with the Hanseatic League, even supporting the Hanse in some of their claims. This in turn persuaded many in the council not to follow Philip’s plan to help recapture Calais. Whilst a peace treaty was being drawn up, Mary died and was replace by Elizabeth.


Source : http://collegehistory.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/edward-and-mary-revision-guide.doc

Web site link: http://collegehistory.wordpress.com/english-history-a2/

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Edward VI Protector Somerset