What was the Foreign Policy of Henery VII of England?


Henery VII had certain ideals before him in the foreign as in the domestic field. He tried his best to achieve these aims. As far as his foreign policy was concerned the main aim of Henry was to make the country stable and powerful and to have matrimonial alliances with other countries and there by strengthen his own position.

In order to stabilise the country and its reputation. Henery VII gave up a Fillip to trade and boosted the prestige of England by a policy of marriage alliances. Thus England came to occupy a position worth the mention in European politics.

Historical Background:


In the Middle Ages England was usually busy in wars. In the Hundred Years’ war England had conquered considerable portions’ of the French territory. However, in the time of Henery VI England lost back everything excepting Calais, At the time when the war of Roses was going on, England was being given no importance in European politics.

The Tudor kings were desperately trying to boost the honour and prestige of England in the eyes of the European powers. This was very necessary for England’s honour and self-respect.

Henery’s Attitude:

However, Henery VII had strictly personal aims. He could not be sure of enhancing the power and reputation of England in the continent. This was so for the simple reason that if he lost in wars it should prove very injurious to the prestige and reputation of England. He therefore, took recourse to a very convenient and safe policy of matrimonial alliances.


This would easily ensure that the other power of the continent would recognise the power of England. Besides, main objective of Henery and his supporters was one and the same. By capturing French territories and their subordination England had suffered a great deal of inconvenience and difficulties. Now people wanted a peaceful rule and nominal taxes. It was to this ideal that Henery VII devoted himself and his energies political and otherwise.

Henery’s measures to strengthen his own position:

In the early years of Henery’s rule European powers did not recognise Henery VII’s power. The reason being that all continental powers were now used to seeing constant changes in England.

The feudal Lords and barons would pick up a quarrel between themselves if they had nothing else to do go the European powers were right in their own way. However, when Henery VII crushed the rebellions and contumacious behaviour of the nobles, then the European powers were obliged to revise their opinion.


Then they realised that they should have been helping Henery himself rather than having helped his opponents and adversaries. Henery took advantage of the enmity between Spain and France and imposed himself to be given recognition. The result was that powers expelled all those persons who had opposed or harassed Henery VII.

(a) Establishment of British. Sea Power:

In order to boost trade and commerce, Henry VII started ship building industry. This led to the establishment of England as a sea- power in the time of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth.

In 1485 the famous Navigation Act was passed. This gave great impetus to the ship-building industry. Trade treaties and pacts were concluded with foreign powers. Because of these treaties t he British ships could now go up to the Baltic Sea. In 1497 John Cabot and Sebastian. Cabot was sent exploring the other countries on the seas.


This is how America and New found land were discovered, The king, Henery VII, ordered big ships to be built on his own expense and then save them out to other countries for hire.

(b) Henery’s relations with Spain:

Ambitions of Charles VIII, the king of France, gave an opportunity to Henery VII to demonstrate his states manly qualities. Louis XI had annexed Burgundy province and Anjore to France. Charles now wanted to annex Brittany to his kingdom. The rising power of Spain could not be tolerated by the French king.

In 1489 Henery VII concluded a treaty with Spain known as the Treaty of Medinade-Campo. For about eighty years England and Spain continued to observe this treaty. It was almost immediately after this treaty that the two countries drew closer to each other by matrimonial alliance.


The Spanish king, Ferdinand, promised to give a huge dowry and Henry exactly wanted this. Spain was and influential and powerful force on the European continent and its acceptance of the family relations with the Tudors of England was significant Matrimonial alliance was universally landed in Spain. Ferdinand went on attaching more and more importance to Henry VII of England,

When after a few months of marriage, Arthur, the eldest son of Henery VII, died, Ferdinand showed his eagerness to continue this relationship and therefore showed his keenness to marry his daughter and widow of Arthur, Catherine, to Henery’s second son.

Arthur’s Younger brother who later became Henry VIII. Ferdinand was despair to about retaining this relationship and was prepared to go any length. M. M. Reese writes. “No one was more anxious them Ferdinand to retain his alliance with England by marrying Catherine to Henry’s second son, or even if need be, to Henry himself.”

(c) Henery and Scotland:

By his policy of matrimonial alliances with other countries of the continent, Henery made England a power to be reckoned with on the continent. Henery married his daughter, Margaret with James IV, the king of Scotland This not only improved the relations between England and Scotland but also proved to be a stronger factor in the uni­fication of England and Scotland at a later date. Further, this served as a blow to France, who was a traditionally of Scotland France and England were old enemies.

Thus this policy of matrimonial alliance with England and Scotland proved a masterly stroke of diplomacy on the part of Henery VII. More-­over this left France isolated.

(d)Henery and Ireland:

Henery used his foresight in dealing with foreign countries. Through Sir Edward Poynings Henery Subordinated the Irish Parliament to the British Parliament. It happened like this:

1. Ireland was strongly Yokist:

(a) In 1459 Richard of York had been a most popular viceroy and Yokist cause was strongly supported by the Geraldine’s, led by Thomas Fitz gerald, Earl of Kildare.

(b) Yokist pretenders were sure of help in Ireland. In 1487 Lambert Simuel was crowned in Dublin. Gerald Fitzgerald, “The Great Earl of Kildare,” supported Perkin Warbeck, who in 1945, after his unsuccessful landing in Kent, found refuge in Ireland.

(c) It was most difficult to enforce the authority of the English Kings. Even within the Pale the Irish retained their language, drew and customs and outside it the turbulent Anglo-Irish barons, especially Kildare, were almost independent.

Henery VII’s New Policy:

In 1494 Prince Henery was made Governor and Sir Edward Poynings appointed his deputy to crush the barons and raise revenues from Ireland.

(i) The work of Poynings outside the pale was.

(a) Complete failure of an expedition against O’ Donnel, the Chief of Tyrconnel.

(b) Attempt to win over the Irish nobles by grants and pensions.

(c) In 1495 perk in Warbeck’s attack on Waterford was reputed. Then Warbeck fled to Scotland.

(ii) The work of Poynings within the pale was.

(a) In 1494 a Parliament at Droghed a passed “Poynings Law” which provided.

(1) That the Irish Parliament should not be summoned without King’s (of England) consent.

(2) That laws passed by the Irish Parliament were to be sanctioned by the king.

(3) That laws passed by the British Parliament were to be valid in Ireland.

(b) Attained the Earl of Kildare who was imprisoned and sent to the Tower of London.

(ii) In 1496 Sir Edward Poynings was recalled owing to high cost of his administration. The Earl of Kildare was appointed Lord Deputy. “All Ireland cannot rule this man” objected a loyal Irish bishop. Then answered Henery, “This man shall rule Ireland.”

(iv) The Irish trade was heavily peralised in favour the English trade and commerce.

The general result of Henery VII’s policy towards Ireland was closer connection between England and Ireland.

(c) Henry VII and France

In 1494 the French ruler Charles had entered into a treaty alliance with Florence, Milan and Genoa and had established his hold over Naples. These successes in quick succession had sent a wave of nervousness and discomfort all round.

The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian I, had claims over Milan while the Spanish ruler had claims over Naples. Pope of Rome was also frightened by the successes of Charles. All major and other powers of the continent were now frantically trying to be safe and protected against France.

Since England was the traditional enemy of France these European powers thought of allying themselves with England. They started making overtures to England. The general feeling was that is France was kept busy in her own house she would not be able to pose a threat to Italy.

That was the reason why England and Spain were united by a matrimonial knot. The real intent of Henry was accompanied by winning the friendship of Spain for England.

Now Henery was thinking that if fight he must, he should participate only in those wars which would prove profitable to him and to his country The Parliament of England accepted the scheme of Henery and granted him money.

Henery collected ten thousand soldiers. Spain and France were in no mood of war then. Therefore in 1442 Henery VII concluded a treaty with France at Staples. This came to be known as the Treaty of Staples. By this treaty Henry got £ 745,000 in cash and also a promise that Perk in War beck would be expelled from that country.

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