How successful was Henry VII in achieving his foreign policy aims
When Henry VII usurped the throne in 1485 one of his immediate tasks was to establish positive links with the other nations of Europe in order to achieve recognition and acceptance of his dynasty. As his reign progressed and he more established, it was inevitable that he would pursue a more ambitious foreign policy where he increasingly attempted to drive, rather than respond to foreign issues. As the aims of Henry’s foreign policy continued to change throughout his reign it is only through splitting is reign into distinct periods that we can fully judge success, as what may have constituted foreign policy success in 1487 may not constitute foreign policy success in 1508.
Within the period 1485-1492 Henry’s key aims were to achieve international recognition, discourage other countries from promoting pretenders and avoid costly and potentially dangerous foreign entanglements, thus allowing him to focus on consolidating his own fledgling dynasty. On the whole, Henry was extremely successful in achieving his aims in this period; a series of truces were agreed with both Scotland and France which both reduced the threat of invasion whilst at the same time not committing Henry to war in their defence. In addition to this Henry was also successful in establishing a commercial treaty with Brittany, thus allowing Henry to achieve one of his principle aims of maximising his income by expanding his trading outlets. His greatest success however was unquestionably the Treaty of Medina Del Campo with Spain, which achieved all of his major aims; As well as being recognised as an equal by a great power, Henry also received an agreement from Ferdinand that he would refuse to support pretenders, further cementing Henry’s dynasty.
It is however essential to acknowledge that Henry did not always achieve his foreign policy aims in this first period, as demonstrated by France’s annexation of Brittany, which demonstrated her great power status. Henry’s attempts to support the Bretons through both the Treaty of Redon (in which he sent 6,000 soldiers) and the invasion of France in 1492 were both unsuccessful, with Henry forced to acknowledge France’s military superiority. In spite of this, it is apparent that Henry did however still succeed in one of his principle foreign policy aims, that of dissuading the European nations from harbouring pretenders. Part of the Treaty of Etaples stated that France would offer no further support for the pretender Perkin Warbeck, demonstrating clear success for Henry.
With the French no longer backing Warbeck, Henry could now feel secure on the throne. As a result, he began to adopt a more ambitious policy aimed at boosting his status within Europe and further maximising his income through the negotiation of beneficial trading interests. Henry’s success in boosting his status was particularly successful and is best evidenced by his entry to the Holy League in 1496, in...