How Successful Was Henry Viii's Foreign Policy, Under Thomas Cromwell?

1868 words - 7 pages

How successful was Henry VIII's foreign policy, under Thomas Cromwell?By December 1531 Thomas Cromwell had become a member of the inner ring of royal councillors; he was chief navigator of national affairs during England's withdrawal from roman allegiance in 1533 and 1534. At this stage of Henry VIII's reign sovereign independence was the paramount issue. Future success within foreign policy would depend on England's independence within Europe. Historians like Crowson have outlined Cromwell's "practical" approach, taking "steps... one by one" (P.S Crowson).During the year 1533, Henry himself began adopting this lethargic style and began to "cultivate the friendship of the Pope" (P.S Crowson) [Clement VII].The king did this through paying the arrears of annates. This put Henry in excellent relations with the Pope and looked to be a piece of successful foreign policy inspire by Cromwell. However this was short lived, in January Anne fell pregnant and soon after Henry and Anne wedded in secret. In March Henry's parliament passed a statute, this practically transformed England into a sovereign independent nation state. This basically meant England gained greater independence and Henry gained further influence. The clergy withdrew all diplomatic recognition of the Pope except for his capacity as "Bishop of Rome". This policy had serious implications on the foreign policy, in June the annate payments to the papacy were stopped; this meant that Henry was now out of favour with Pope Clement. Although it can be argued that Henry and the Pope fell out due financial differences, the more likely source of this rivalry was Henry's decision to become the leader of the Church of England.Another aspect of foreign policy Henry had to deal with during this era was concerning Ireland. Early in Henry's reign he adopted a policy similar to that of his fathers, this was to leave the clans with Norman or Gaelic chieftains to fight out their rivalries without England. This had been largely successful up to the year 1534, due to the fact Henry needed to do very little to keep the Irish at bay. However in this year an agent of Cromwell's in Dublin accused the earl of Kildare of allying with an English enemy. For this Kildare was summoned to London and put in the tower until his death. Unexpectedly this sparked a rebellion form Kildare's son, "silken Thomas", this may have proved a difficultly for Henry, however Thomas was easily stopped by the Butler clan. The removal of Kildare proved a successful policy, if Cromwell's agent was correct, putting Kildare out of action would prevent an uprising and possible conflict. The business of Kildare was also carried out with minimal consequences and was completed quickly and effectively by both Cromwell and Henry.Meanwhile in Europe events did not look so pleasant, Pope Clement had cautiously resisted Henrys growing independence and drafted a bull of excommunication in July 1533. In essence this meant that Henry had up until...

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