Henry VIII’s Foreign Policy 1509-1524 Essay
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How far do Sources 1, 2 and 3 suggest that Henry VIII’s Foreign Policy in the years 1509-1524 followed consistent aims?
Source 1 agrees that Henry’s did follow consistent aims and Henry VIII had one goal target in his foreign policy whilst sources 2 and 3 especially, argues that Henry but could not agree one goal to pursue involving foreign policy.
Source 1 in particular claims that Henry poured much dedication and time into ensuring that England went to war against France. “The king” writes letters to “the pope, the emperor and the Venetians” declaring his “steadfast intention and strong provision to wage war against France” suggesting that Henry VIII’s main goal was to attack France as he repeats his exact intentions to three separate individuals.
This is reiterated in source 2 as Henry VIII is described to be accompanied by “500 horsemen and 3000 foot soldiers” during the Field of Cloth of Gold showing aggression and building tension between the two rivals suggesting that King Henry was keen in causing tension so that it will lead to waging a war against France.
We can see King Henry strongly suggesting that he consistently wanted to defeat the French as he writes to the Venetians to try and disband the newly formed league between Venetia and France. As the Milanese ambassador is writing at the time these letters had been sent he carries alot of weight with Source 1 as it clearly states the purpose of the letters and they lead to one clear goal which is to invade France. Source 3 shows Cromwell trying to persuade Henry to go against his plans to take over France but to redirect his attentions to Scotland. Cromwell suggesting that Henry “converts first and chief his whole intent and purpose” suggests that Henry was so determine to wage war against France he did not think about other issues to do with his Foreign Policy and Cromwell needed to remind him of budding problems.
However Source 3 also suggests that Henry was lenient in his decisions about foreign policies as, even though Cromwell at this time is trying to work his way into the inner council and was desperate to gain the attentions of the King, felt the King was not so desperate in going against France that he was able to suggest the King redirects his attention to Scotland whilst still pleasing the King and trying to achieve honour. Source 2 also suggests that the King was not so rivalled with France as a contemporary account shows that Henry pitched his marquee near where the French king had been staying, although this could be seen as showing off and is multifaceted it can also be seen as Henry trying to break down the existing barriers to focus on the celebration of the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
Overall, there is enough agreement in all three sources to suggest that Henry VIII’s foreign policy in the years 1509-1524 followed consistent aims. This is a view most strongly and optimistically supported by source 1, slightly confirmed by the accounts described in source 2 but largely denied by source 3.