This sample essay on Henry Viii Foreign Policy provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
When accessing how far Henry VIII pursued new foreign policies in the period 1509-1514, it is important to take into account the idea of change and continuity. Henry VII established some very strong and clear foreign policies, however Henry VIII wanted to very much distance himself from his father’s work and ethos.
It is essential to look at the policies that Henry VIII changed and the reasons behind this, but also whether he kept any of his father’s strategies. It is vital to remember that many factors contributed to the characters of both Henry VII and Henry VIII.
I will continuously focus on the theme of their childhood and upbringing, and how these factors may have contributed to their behaviour in adulthood, and how well they were prepared for the role of a king.
Henry VII was perceived as a miserly character, whose enigmatic and distant nature caused him to be disliked by many. He was, however, very independent and was “governed by none,” which ensured that everything was overlooked by him. Similarities between Henry VIII and his father were that they were both good at networking and highly intelligent.
On the other hand, Henry VIII enjoyed spending his money on the nobility and lavishing himself with a hedonistic lifestyle. In my opinion, this major difference stemmed from the fact that their upbringing was so different.
Henry VII grew up and gained training as a king not only in a studious way, but he also had the chance to experience court politics and learn through gossip and observations. His mother was a great influence over him, and she fully supported her son’s political interests. Henry’s uncle, Jasper Tudor, was the only constant figure in his life, and always gave Henry stability, loyalty and a political role model.
Henry VII fought for the crown, against the Yorkist king Richard III, at the Battle of Bosworth. He had a fierce determination to become king, and become secure dynastically. Henry VIII on the other hand, was guarded against the exposure of having to take responsibility. His older brother Arthur was expected to be heir to the throne, and therefore Henry was untrained as king and left to enjoy his youth. I believe that this is very influential over the methods in which Henry VIII dealt with the decisions of a king, especially when concerning foreign policies.
Henry VII believed that securing the throne was the most important contribution that he could make, as did Henry VIII. However the way in which they went about doing this differed. Henry VII always maintained a peace policy. He realised quite rightly that foreign relationships had to be secure, in order to decrease the chances of being attacked and overthrown. Henry VII used peace treaties to his advantage. He ensured that Britain became a “nuisance” to France, and so France was forced into having to sign the Treaty of Etaples, if they wanted to get rid of Henry and his army.
This helped Henry greatly, as the treaty meant that war was avoided with one of England’s closest neighbours. Henry also signed the Treaty of Medina del Campo, which promoted peace between England and Spain. Henry was very much aware of the importance of these treaties, as they encouraged trade, protected pretenders and most importantly, improved the relations between foreign countries. Henry VII realised that a strong king coincided with the idea of a rich king, and so a peace policy meant a cutting down on the expenses of war.
Henry VIII was opposed to his father’s idealistic view on foreign policy. Even though Henry VIII wanted to secure the throne to provide a reassuring and safe life for his heirs, he went about seeking to provide this in a different manner. He wanted glory. He wanted to be seen as the “warrior king. ” I believe that this is where the influence of his childhood is most significant. Henry VIII was brought up with the idea that past family members, in particular Henry V, were extremely victorious in wars.
This affected Henry so much, that not only did he want a parallel glory to Henry V, but he also commissioned a translation of a book about Henry V’s early life. Henry VIII was also made aware of the fact that it was only 80 years since Henry VI had been crowned king of France, which meant that according to him, he rightfully inherited the French crown. Unlike his father’s peace policy, Henry believed in a more traditional interventionist policy. Henry wanted prestige and military glory, which he gained when winning the battle of the spurs.
This was very successful through Henry’s eyes, as it was the first territorial gain in France for 75 years, and did much to heighten his popularity. Henry persued this idea of being militarily successful, but I do not believe he achieved this. Henry was in France whilst James IV was victorious at Flodden, which made Henry’s gains become overshadowed by James IV victory in England. Even though this was a victory for England, it is questionable as to whether it was a victory for Henry. The treasury became bankrupt and to maintain territorial gains would result in great financial cost.
However, Henry was mainly concerned about his reputation, and instead of being cautious with finance, spent his money lavishly. In fact, the war with France (1512-1524) cost i? 892,000, a startlingly large amount during the Tudor period. This clearly shows how determined he was to persue a new foreign policy of military power – a foreign policy that was completely set apart from his father’s. To ensure the throne was as protected as possible, Henry VII was very adamant that it would be arranged for his son, Prince Arthur, to marry the king of Spain’s daughter.
Henry’s eldest daughter, Margaret, married James IV of Scotland, which was intended to bring future peace between Scotland and England, both renowned for being traditional enemies. Henry himself also married Elizabeth of York, a woman who was a Yorkist. This enabled him to reduce the possibility of future Yorkist claims to the throne, which was significantly important after the War of Roses. Henry VIII was slightly more reckless with his heart. Even though he aimed to carry on his legacy, he had in total six wives.
He viewed the point of marriage as being able to produce legitimate heirs to the throne, however unlike his father, he enjoyed courting and charming the women in his life. This could possibly be because not only did women constantly surround him, but also his bedroom was also next to his father’s and 100 servants. This undoubtedly allowed him to witness many things and possibly shape his strange outlook on women, as well as put his own interests first, above the idea of marrying for dynastic security. On the other hand, he did marry Catherine of Aragon (though this was his father’s idea) which he understood was necessary.
I believe in this way he persued and maintained this element of foreign policy, and continued his father’s ideas on the importance of international relations through marriage. The nobility affected Henry VIII’s decisions towards foreign policy. They supported his policy of aggression, and were determined to go to war. Henry was generous with patronage, and gained the nobility’s support through a subtle form of bribery. The nobility welcomed this, as it was a large difference to the way that Henry VII treated them. Henry VII through the learned council was very harsh with bonds and recognaisances.
He did not want the nobility becoming strengthened, and so held back with patronage. He used Empson and Dudley to collect taxes from the nobility. Henry VIII changed this policy by executing Empson and Dudley, the two men that worked so closely with his father. This gained a lot of respect with the nobility and clearly signified the fact that his way of ruling, and deciding upon policies was opposite to his father. Henry VIII’s need to persue new foreign policies, and in fact domestic policies, stem from the fact that he could see how unpopular his father’s way of ruling was.
It is thought that Henry VII was hanging by a thread, and by the end of his rule was not at all secure. Henry VIII wanted to distance himself from this, and expectations were upon him to act differently to his father. He persued foreign polices that were dissimilar to Henry VII’s, and, apart from the idea of continuing and securing the Tudor dynasty through arranged marriages, every other policy was a contrast. I believe that this is due not only to society expectations at the time, but also Henry VIII had clear expectations for himself from an early age.
Growing up in the shadow of his older brother’s legacy may have been difficult for Henry, and so when he was given the power, he used it to the maximum, always with full determination, sometimes with naivety. As a child, he was constantly thinking of the past generations, and their glory and patriotism, and how they were respected and adored, usually due to their military connections. It is no surprise that Henry VIII persued the foreign policies that he did. Regardless of whether they were successful or not, he did everything in his power to follow his own path, and neglect his father’s legacy.