CHAPTER I. HENRY VII (i), 1485-92 - THE NEW DYNASTY
Since then it was impracticable simply to retire, the alternative course was to demonstrate; and Henry spent the greater part of 1492 in making the greatest possible display of preparation for war on a great scale - with a view to obtaining satisfying terms of peace. The one real piece of military work taken in hand was the siege and capture of Sluys in Flanders (in conjunction with Albert of Saxony, on behalf of Maximilian); from which port much injury of a piratical order had been wrought upon English merchants. Meantime negotiations had been carried on, but with no appearance of success. At last in October the King actually crossed the Channel to take command of the army of invasion; and sat down before Boulogne. Then on a sudden the air cleared. Charles in fact did not want a serious English war, out of which he could make nothing. But he had developed a very keen ambition to enter Italy and win the Crown of Naples. Henry by himself, or even in conjunction with the much offended Maximilian, was hardly likely to penetrate very far into France, if the forces of that kingdom were arrayed against him; but while he threatened, Charles could not move on Italy; moreover, his presence was an encouragement to those of the nobility whose allegiance was doubtful. So the French King resolved to buy off the English King at his own price. Lewis XI., threatened by Edward IV., had agreed to pay what Edward called a tribute, in return for which he held his claim to the French throne in abeyance. Henry need have no qualms about following his Yorkist predecessor's example. Beyond that, Charles was prepared to pay off the Brittany indemnities. Thus Henry secured Peace with Honour and a solid cash equivalent for his expenditure; besides being able to silence the complaints of the warlike by emphasising the gravity of embarking on a great campaign with winter coming on. He threw over Maximilian, but the faithlessness of the King of the Romans was so palpable and notorious that at the worst Henry was only paying him back in his own coin. As to Spain, Henry knew that the monarchs had been endeavouring to negotiate a separate peace, and they had never carried out their part of the contract. So far as he was breaking engagements with his allies, their own conduct had given him ample warrant. The event had justified Henry's management of a very difficult situation. The Peace of Etaples was ratified in December; and Henry emerged from the war with England's continental prestige restored to a respectable position, a full treasury, and his throne in England infinitely more secure than it had been three years before. He was never again driven to enter upon a foreign war; and now the appearance of Perkin Warbeck on the scene, though it kept England in a state of uneasiness for some years, was incomparably less dangerous than it would have proved at an earlier stage.