Henry VIII




Henry VIII


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.



The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Henry VIII


Henry VIII Revision Notes



Relations with France


From the start of his reign, Henry was determined to go to war with France. In 1509 he reinforced Calais and initiated a large naval expansion programme, however  in 1509 the international scene did not present itself for war with France. Louis XII was cooperating with Spain therefore in order to declare war on France, Henry first had to isolate them. He did this by sending Archbishop Bainbridge of York  to reconcile the Pope and Venetians (who had been feuding), and he was successful in persuading Pope Julius II that France was the main threat to papal independence.  In 1511 a new Holy League was formed against France, setting in motion a decent period of Anglo papal cooperation. These early actions show just how desperate Henry was for war with France (primarily out of a desire to gain glory on the battlefield) and contrast greatly with his father, who sought peace with France wherever possible.


In November 1511 Henry and Ferdinand agreed to mount a joint invasion of France on behalf of the Holy League (invades in 1512). Although the Spanish took Navarre carrying out their side of the deal, the English troops under Dorset mutinied or died of dysentery. Henry then hoped for better look in Flanders in Northern France, occupying Tournai (a French enclave in Burgundian territory). There was also a victory at the Battle of Spurs (not really a battle, but more a skirmish) which gave Henry some of the glory he craved (this was aided by the capture of 6 French standards). Tournai however had no real strategic value, and cost twice as much to garrison as it paid in tribute. In total, the cost of invasions between 1512-13 reached £960,000.


During this point however the French became increasingly involved in Scotland in an attempt to destabilise England. Although the Scottish invasion of 1513 was carried out by Scottish troops, it was encouraged by the French. Similarly from 1516 onwards, the French gave active support to the Duke of Albany, and encouraged him to stir up as much trouble as he could in Scotland. In August 1514 Henry signed a peace treaty with the French, letting him keep his oversees gains and restoring a pension. In October, his younger sister Mary married Louis, becoming Queen of France. Although this opened the way to improved Anglo French relations, Louis died just three months later ensuring little was to change.




The death of Louis in late 1514 ended the brief entente between England and France, with Mary now a widow and returning to England. The new King of France, Francis I was a dashing figure and took Milan in 1515. The emergence of Francis onto the European stage angered Henry somewhat, however he quickly found himself isolated following the treaties of Noyon in 1516 (France and Spain came to terms) and Cambrai in 1517 (France and Maximilian came to terms). Henry’s aggression would have to wait. Relations with France did however improve slightly following the 1518 Treaty of London, where England, Spain, France and Burgundy all agreed to peace (this boosted Henry’s status, as he was now seen as a peacemaker- notice how with no money he now tries to obtain glory through peace!) 2 days later Henry concluded an important treaty with the French; Tournai was given to France in return for a pension, Albany was to keep out of Scotland, and Henry’s 2 year old daughter Mary would marry the dauphin. Although on the surface, relations were much better, it is important to acknowledge that as the author of the peace Henry had to look as if he was impartial. His anti French sentiment however was clearly bubbling beneath the surface, as his later actions would show.


In 1521 the uneasy peace between Francis and Charles ended when France recaptured Navarre. To arbitrate, Wolsey set up a meeting at Paris, however by this time, Henry had decided to go against France. After 2 days of the conference, Wolsey secretly set off to Bruges to negotiate a treaty with Charles, promising mount a joint invasion with Charles of France before May 1523. Significantly Henry would now marry his daughter to Charles instead of the Dauphin. During 1522 and 23 Wolsey made a great effort to secure the resources needed for war with France, with war eventually declared in May 1522. Surrey led 15,000 English troops into Picardy, however Henry needed Spain to send troops from the Netherlands which never came; without Spanish aid he could not gain the glory he wanted, and he was under pressure form some ministers to give up the “Grand enterprise” and turn to Scotland, where the French backed Albany was making trouble. Before he could completely turn away from France he was presented with another opportunity in 1523, when Charles Duke of Bourbon (a French noble) rebelled against Francis, offering Henry the potential for large scale military assistance (this seems to show just how desperate Henry was for war with France- even when he knew he was best advised to withdraw!). Henry acted quickly signing a new treaty with Charles promising that 15,000 would invade from England, 5,000 from Holland and 20,000 from Spain. In August 11,000 English landed and began marching on Paris, however Bourbon failed to revolt. The Dutch troops dissolved when they were not paid and Charles never launched the invasion from Spain. Henry however was not done here, and planned for another invasion of France in 1525 to take advantage of the decisive Spanish victory at the Battle of Pavia (no invasion came due to the unpopular of the Amicable Grant that Henry was forced to levy to pay for the war). In total, spending on wars with France in the period 1523-5 was £460,000.


Although there had been a brief rapprochement between England and France in 1514, relations were generally extremely poor between the two in the early years of Henry’s reign, given his desire for war with France. With Charles V of Spain proving himself an unreliable ally, refusing to share the spoils of victory and repudiating the marriage agreement between himself and Henry’s daughter Mary (this threatened Henry’s dynastic security) by 1525 Henry was willing to try and make peace with France, which was formalised by the Treaty of the More.


In early 1526, Henry encouraged the formation of the anti Spanish League of Cognac (made up of France and Italian states). Although Henry never formally committed to it 9he had wanted it signed in England), he remained its nominal head. In April 1527 the Treaty of Perpetual Peace was declared between England and France and a French marriage was agreed for Mary (this never went ahead).


By 1527 Henry had a new priority in foreign policy. Worried about the succession he wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Anne, however this would involve breaking the imperial (Spanish) stranglehold over Italy, motivating him to draw even closer to France. In August 1527 Henry committed to pay some of the costs of a French army moving towards Italy. He also promised to forego invasion of Franc if they were to help him gain an annulment. The French attacks were however unsuccessful, and in 1529 the Treaty of Cambrai between Francis, the Pope and Charles ended French military involvement in Italy and left Henry isolated.


As Henry realised a break from Rome was imminent (as the Pope would not grant him a divorce) Henry tried to draw closer to Francis I of France in an attempt to avoid French hostility when the break occurred. Although the two signed a defensive alliance in 1532, Francis would never follow Henry into a break from Rome (particularly considering Francis wanted to marry his son to the Pope’s niece, Catherine Di Medici). In 1533 the relations between England and France (relatively positive since 1525) collapsed when Henry married Anne without informing Francis. 


By 1536, the Spanish and the French were however fighting once more, reducing the threat of a French/Spanish invasion of England in defence of Catholicism. The threat did however increase following the signing of a ten year truce between the two in 1538 which caused France to sever diplomatic links. When Henry was finally excommunicated in 1538, Cardinal Pole was sent to France to raise troops for a crusade against Henry. As a result of this threat, Henry put the defences on emergency footing, and executed the remaining Pole’s (Catholic Yorkist descendents, who the Pope may try and replace Henry with). The Marquess of Exeter was killed in 1539 and Margaret Pole in 1541.


In 1540, relations with France began to improve, largely as the result of Norfolk’s successful negotiating who was able to persuade Francis to take up the mantle of “Protector of Charles’ Enemies”. This improvement in relations ended England’s isolation, however when war between France and Spain came once more in 1542, it looked like the threat from France was over. Henry’s obsession with France did not however end there, sending 40,000 men into France under the command of Hertford in 1544. It could even be suggested that the invasion of Scotland in 1542 was an attempt to secure the north in preparation for the planned invasion of France.


In 1544 Henry launched another shambolic invasion of France, with Henry not defining his objectives until 1 week after his forces landed. Henry was reluctant to move far from his supply bases, angering Charles, who signed the Treaty of Crepy with the French. Peace talks with Henry and Francis began, but got nowhere, as Henry wanted to keep the captured town of Boulogne and for the French to abandon supporting the Scots, which the French were unwilling to do. This inability to negotiate increased the threat of a potential French counter invasion, with Francis planning to attack England from Scotland, and capture an English town that could be exchanged for Boulogne.   At this point, the situation looked dangerous for Henry who had no allies and had to expropriate further church lands and borrow from the Antwerp money market in order to fund his defences. Whilst Henry can be criticised for such attacks, capturing Boulogne did make some strategic sense, as it was close to Calais, and would allow England to consolidate their control over the region. His refusal to give it up was however also motivated by his aim of glory- he did not want to give up a trophy thet he had earned! French troops did arrive in Scotland but did not invade England, and in 1545 French forces landed on Isle of Wight but withdrew after burning several villages. Naval skirmishes also broke out in the English Channel, however Henry did well as a naval commander and the attacks were repelled. In 1546 peace was agreed at treaty of Ardres which stated that England would keep Boulogne until 1554 when it would be returned to France for a fee. France would also pay all pensions outstanding. This was however a short term compromise, and so brought no great change in relations! Henry’s wars from 1542-46 cost £2 million.




Although Henry VIII’s sister Margaret was married to James IV of Scotland, this did not bring particularly harmonious relations with the Scots, as demonstrated by the Scots attempted invasion of England in 1513 which culminated in a crushing English victory at Flodden. Unlike Henry VII who invested a lot of time in Scotland in an attempt to maintain positive relations. Henry VIII was guilty of ignoring Scotland in the early part of his reign (although he did ratify the treaty of Ayton in 1509), and in 1512 the French and the Scots renewed the Auld Alliance. Although Henry VIII was not particularly interested in Scotland in the early part of his reign (as his focus was on France), this lack of interest would in fact make it easier for the French to draw closer to the Scots in an attempt to destabilise England.


James IV was killed at Flodden, however rather than herald an improvement in relations (as the threat of war in 1497 had done) the victory was not exploited. Henry chose not to pacify Scotland by sending an army to occupy Scotland, but instead left his sister as regent for the 17 month old heir James V. Henry did not aim to destroy Scotland (there was no real prestige to be gained from this and it may detract from France), however this lack of long term vision, would ensure that Scotland would continue to be an irritant for England under the reign of Henry VIII. 


Leaving Margaret in charge of Scotland did not however work particularly well. She was hated by the Scottish nobles and imprisoned in 1515 before fleeing to England (before taking power once more in Scotland in 1524), playing into the hands of the Pro French nobles within Scotland. By 1516, Francis I had had begun encouraging the heir apparent and new regent of Scotland (Duke of Albany) to stir up trouble in Scotland, ensuring the issue of Scotland never completely went away, however an agreement was reached in 1517 which helped resolve the Scottish issue.


Although relations between the two had stabilised in the 1520s and early 1530s, they were not helped by James V’s marriage to Mary of Guise, a French noble woman. By 1538, a Scottish invasion as part of a Spanish orchestrated crusade appeared likely, with Cardinal Beaton (a papal legate sent by the Pope in order to raise forces for a crusade against Henry VIII) gaining significant influence within the Scottish court. It is however interesting the note that the Scots were only considering aggression towards the English when they knew they would be backed by the French or the Spanish. Ultimately, the Scots were unwilling to make the first move, and no attack came.

By the 1540s Henry began to show more interest in Scotland and in October 1542 invaded Scotland. The motives for this are much debated; Pollard suggests that this shows Henry had become more realistic, and he was now aiming to unite the British Isles under his leadership (he had already had himself crowned King of Ireland).

Wernham suggests that Henry’s decision was motivated by dynastic concerns- He only had one male heir, and there was the potential that James V, with his claim to the English throne (through his mother Margaret Tudor) may disrupt the succession.

Scarisbrick however suggests it was to secure England’s Postern Gate (or back door) before invading France in 1544, suggesting that Henry’s key foreign policy motive was glory in France, with Scotland far less of a priority (although shows he learned from his experiences in 1513).

Clearly the decision to invade Scotland, and the subsequent decision to attack France in 1544 were related, however how they were connected is debatable! It is however apparent that the Scots had done a great deal to antagonise the English during this period, marrying French noble women, sheltering English rebels who had fled following the Pilgrimage of Grace, and in the case of James V, not turning up to meet Henry VII in 1541 when he was on his northern progress.

Following the English invasion of Scotland in 1542, the English were victorious at the Battle of Solway Moss, capturing many Scottish nobles. In addition to this, James V died a few weeks later leaving the one week old Mary as heir! In spite of this, like in 1513 Henry opted not to invade. Whilst Wernham thinks the potential for French involvement put him off I feel a more convincing explanation is the fact that James’ death meant Henry’s dynastic concerns were now sorted (at least in the short term- as Mary Queen of Scots could pose no immediate threat). Henry planned a new way to subdue the Scots (which would also be much cheaper than occupying Scotland); use the captured Scottish lords as the nucleus of a pro English party within Scotland who would bring Mary to England, help arrange a dynastic union between the two, and act as Henry’s agents in Scotland (notice the link with Henry VII and Archibald Douglas). Furthermore, the Earl of Arran (a pro English Scottish noble, and Archibald Douglas’ grandson) was appointed regent of Scotland, however by 1544 he switched allegiance to the French and Mary Queen of Scots.

The 1543 Treaty of Greenwich formally betrothed Edward to Mary Queen of Scots (if this marriage had have happened it would formally have united the two kingdoms) however it did not bring Henry custody of Mary, nor end their French alliance. The treaty was in fact repudiated by the Scottish Parliament later in 1543, with all previous treaties with France renewed. 




On the whole, Henry VIII’s relations with the Netherlands remained relatively strong, in spite of his reluctant decision to declare war on them in 1528. Henry had fought alongside Maximilian in 1514 (his seizure of Tournai from the French, and the destruction of the French fort at Therouanne had been of great help to Maximilian). Although Maximilian did let Henry down by making a separate peace with Louis of France in 1514, the two countries generally got on. Although relations with the Netherlands changed slightly after Charles V assumed control in 1516 (making them a Spanish possession, but still largely independent), the economic importance of the Netherlands dictated that good relations were essential in order to ensure that the English cloth industry could be successful. English merchants had few other markets, so could not afford to anger the Dutch, or overly offend the Spanish. Although Henry VIII did anger the Spanish from 1533-40, the Spanish realised the importance of the English cloth trade to themselves, so were reluctant to restrict English access to Antwerp.


The decision to declare war In January 1528 and plan for an invasion of the Netherlands was taken extremely reluctantly, and was born out of a grievance with Charles and Spain, as opposed to with the Netherlands directly (notice how Spain and the Netherlands were becoming  more intertwined). The internal response to this (riots in cloth making parts of England) coupled with the Dutch response (Charles’ regent arrested all English merchants in the Netherlands) caused Henry to back down, for fear of damaging English trade and the wider economy. It is particularly interesting to contrast this with Henry VII- as he had various trade outlets he could launch economic warfare against Burgundy, however as Henry VIII was so dependent upon the Netherlands (Burgundy becomes the Netherlands in 1516) he could not.


After this point, relations remained relatively strong. Although Henry and Charles fell out from 1533 to 1540 (or even 1527-40) Spain needed the English to continue to trade with the Netherlands, ensuring that England remained relatively close to the Netherlands.





Henry VIII started off on good terms with the Spanish, helped by his marriage in 1509 To Catherine of Aragon. He fought alongside Ferdinand in France from 1512-14, before Ferdinand concluded a separate peace with the French. The death of Ferdinand  in 1516 was a slight diplomatic setback for Henry, as the two had generally got on well. Ferdinand’s successor Charles did not renew the treaty with England, but instead signed the Treaty of Noyon in 1516 with the French. Although this threatened to isolate England, England remained resolutely Pro Spanish. The importance of friendship with the Spanish became even more apparent when Charles was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, making him Europe’s strongest figure.


By 1521 when it became clear that the peace agreement signed at the Treaty of London would not last, Henry had no hesitation in siding with the Spanish (albeit secretly), sending Wolsey to conclude and agreement with the Spanish during the Bruges Conference. The treaty that was signed, committed England to a joint invasion of France with Spain, and a betrothal between Henry’s daughter Mary and Charles. The fact that Henry opted to side with Spain at this point was testimony to both Spain’s power, and Henry’s realisation that an alliance with Charles appeared the best way to gain land and glory in France. 


The Spanish however failed to send the troops that they had promised from the Netherlands, ensuring that Henry had to pull out of France with little to show for his efforts. In 1525 however Henry was keen once more to fight alongside the Spanish against the French in order to take advantage of the Spanish victory at Pavia. Henry however was unable to raise a force due to the resistance in England to the Amicable Grant.


After this point, relations between England and Spain began to deteriorate (although not to the extent that they would under the reign of Elizabeth). Charles had been an unreliable ally, and had continued to refuse his English allies full trading access to land the Spanish had taken in Italy as well as the New World (The Americas). More damaging to Henry was Charles’ repudiation of the marriage agreement which threatened Henry’s dynastic security.


By 1527 Henry had a new priority in foreign policy which would further damage relations with Spain. Worried about the succession issue (this had been made worse by Charles’s repudiation of his betrothal to Mary) Henry wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne in order to produce a male heir. This required the Pope’s consent, however he was the prisoner of Charles V. Thus, in order to get the divorce, Henry had to break the Spanish stranglehold over Italy, which would mean pursuing a more anti Spanish policy. As a result, Henry entered an alliance with France, and in August 1527 he committed to pay some of the costs of a French army moving towards Italy. In January 1528 he went one step further reluctantly declaring war against Charles, and making plans to attack the Netherlands. Henry however soon backed down in mind of the domestic protests to such an action (motivated primarily out of a fear of losing access to the lucrative Antwerp cloth market). Although this declaration of war would suggest that Anglo Spanish relations were extremely strained, it is important not to overstate the damage that this caused to relations. War did not ensue, and if anything it appears it was supposed to be more of a warning to Spain on the part of Henry. Certainly England did not directly threaten Spain’s national security at this point and vice versa.


 Henry’s decision to break with Rome and marry Anne in 1533 further damaged relations with Spain, and there was at this point a real fear that Charles may defend his religion and Mary’s (Catherine’s daughter) claim to the English throne through force.  A Spanish invasion was however unlikely, as Charles was distracted by German Protestants, and the actions of the Ottoman Turks


The death of Catherine of Aragon in 1536 opened up the way to improved relations with the Spanish (however in many ways relations got worse before they improved!) as Henry was now in the eyes of the Spanish free to marry again. The outbreak of hostilities between the French and the Spanish once more in 1536 temporarily allowed England to patch up relations with the Spanish, however the 10 year truce signed between the French and the Spanish in 1538 once more strained relations between the two. This was made worse in 1538 when Henry was finally excommunicated by the Pope in 1538. The threat from Spain now seemed very real, with Charles severing links with England in 1539. Although England’s situation seemed precarious, with Henry putting his defences on emergency footing, by the early 1540s, England’s relations with the Spanish had improved markedly. By the time war broke out between the French and the Spanish in 1542 England took up their usual position of supporting Spain, with Henry committing 40,000 troops to an invasion of France in 1544 in conjunction with the Spanish. The Spanish decision to sign a separate peace with the French at Crepy (they were angered by Henry’s independent actions and his apparent refusal to march his men on Paris) in many ways sums up Anglo Spanish relations in this period; they were generally united by a common dislike of the French, however they also mistrusted each other, making prolonged cooperation difficult. It does however show that Charles (possibly won round by some of Henry’s internal religious concessions such as the Six Articles) seemed happy to side with Henry once more, in spite of his break from Rome!


Trade under Henry VIII

By the end of Henry VIII’s reign, 120,000 cloths were being exported annually compared to 50,000 at the start of Henry VII’s reign. The key problem however remained the fact that England remained solely dependent on the Antwerp market, as aside from gaining certain concessions in the Baltic and with the government of Lubeck, Henry had been unsuccessful (and relatively disinterested) in searching for alternative trading outlets. The relative profitability of Antwerp also made it difficult to persuade merchants to move to new markets. The debasement of the coinage under Henry which begun in 1541 had led an artificial boom, making English cloth cheap for foreign purchases, however in the long term, this would prove disastrous.



Source : http://collegehistory.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/henry-viii-revision-guide.doc

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

Google key word : Henry VIII file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Henry VIII


If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Henry VIII use the following search engine:



Henry VIII


Please visit our home page


Larapedia.com Terms of service and privacy page




Henry VIII