CHAPTER I. HENRY VII (i), 1485-92 - THE NEW DYNASTY
The determining factor in this change of attitude, practically involving a French war, is probably to be found in Henry's relations with Spain. It was of vital importance to him to get his dynasty recognised in an emphatic form by foreign Powers. In Spain under its very able rulers he saw the most valuable of allies, and during the first half of 1488 he had made it his primary concern to procure the betrothal of his own infant son Arthur to their infant daughter Katharine. And virtually his hostility to France was the price they demanded. The preliminaries were settled in July, 1488; the treaty was not definitively signed till March of the next year; and as the essential nature of the Spanish requirements became more apparent, Henry found himself compelled to accept active antagonism to France as part of the bargain. With his subjects, a French war was always secure of a certain popularity, though the provision of funds for it would entail a degree of opposition. Moreover, though foreign wars might give extreme malcontents their opportunity, it is a commonplace of politics that they distract attention from domestic grievances. Thus it is easy to perceive how the benefits of the Spanish alliance would very definitely turn the scale. And we shall still find that Henry had no intention of expending an ounce of either blood or treasure which might be saved consistently with the ostensible fulfilment of the Spanish Compact.
[Sidenote 1: 1489 Preparations for war with France] [Sidenote 2: Spanish treaty of Medina del Campo]
So in December, 1488, Henry was sending friendly embassies to all the Powers, but while that to France was merely offering mediation, the envoy to Brittany was offering military assistance - on terms. In January a new Parliament was asked for, and after considerable debate granted, £100,000. In February the embassy to Maximilian concluded an alliance for mutual defence; while that to Brittany pledged Henry to defend the young Duchess, but exacted in return the occupation by the English of sundry military positions in the duchy, and the right to forbid any marriage or alliance except with Maximilian or Spain. Then in March the Spanish treaty was completed: whereof the terms were very significant. The children were to be betrothed. If Spain declared war on France, England was to support her. Spain might retire independently if she recovered the small districts of Roussillon and Cerdagne, which had been surrendered (though only in pledge) to Lewis XI.; England might similarly withdraw if she got back Guienne - a very much more visionary prospect. Otherwise, one was not to retire without the other being equally satisfied. If England attacked France, Spain was to help; but occupied as she was with Granada the amount of aid likely to be forthcoming was problematical. In brief, Henry was prepared to pay for the marriage, and Spain could exact a high price.
France then was occupied in the west with the contest in Brittany, and in the north she was supporting the Flemings in their normal resistance to Maximilian. The English could use Calais as a base for operations on this side, and also began to throw troops into Brittany. Incidentally there was a rising in the north of England headed by Sir John Egremont, of which the pretext was resistance to the levying of taxes; this, however, did not take very long to suppress, nor was any one of importance involved in it. Still the hostilities with France were carried on in a very half-hearted fashion; being confined to defensive operations in Brittany which were supposed to be no violation of the peace recently prolonged to January, 1490.
[The allies inert]
Henry was satisfied to make a show of fighting, and Spain made no haste to help him, England not being formally at war. As early as July, Maximilian, shiftiest and most impecunious of princes, concluded at Frankfort an independent treaty with France; who agreed to give up the places she occupied in Brittany if Henry were compelled to withdraw his garrisons; while there were signs that she might cede Roussillon and thus deprive Henry of his claim to Spanish support. Within the duchy itself, the Marshal de Rieux and his ward were in a state of antagonism; since he wished her to marry the Sieur D'Albret, a powerful Gascon noble who was not too submissive to the French monarchy; while the Duchess declared she would rather enter a convent. Anne at last announced her adhesion to the treaty of Frankfort; but as Henry had no intention of evacuating his forts, nothing particular resulted. The English King could not afford simply to drop the contest, and when the New Year came in, he demanded and obtained from Parliament fresh supplies for carrying on the war.
[1490 Object of Henry's foreign policy]
The game Henry had to play in 1490 was a sufficiently difficult one: and he played it with consummate skill. He meant to hold his position in Brittany until he received adequate indemnities; he had to satisfy his own subjects that he was not going to draw back before the power of France; and he had to carry out the letter of his obligations to Spain under the treaty of the previous March, On the other hand, he had in fact no ambitious military projects, and while Spain abstained from sending active assistance in force, she could not complain if he merely stood on the defensive. The Duchess, finding herself no better off for accepting the Frankfort treaty, adopted the alternative policy of throwing herself on his protection. So he welcomed a mediatorial embassy from the Pope and showed no unwillingness to negotiate, but continued to strengthen his own position; while he could exhibit a sound reason for abstaining from aggressive action and still accumulate war-funds.