CHAPTER V. HENRY VIII (i), 1509-27 - EGO ET REX MEUS
In mid-winter Henry had been struck down by small-pox; he recovered to find these intrigues in active progress, and was highly indignant. His martial projects were, of course, thrown entirely out of gear. Ferdinand, however, had found his match. The English King, when the dictates of his personal interests, translated into terms of conscience, did not obscure the issues at stake, had an acute perception of political expediency, untrammelled by the traditional sentiment which biased the judgment of advisers of the type of Surrey (now raised to the Dukedom of Norfolk). It was Wolsey who swayed his counsels, and Wolsey perceived in an alliance with France an effective alternative to the collapsed alliance against her.
[Policy of French alliance ]
No sooner had he detected the intrigues of Ferdinand than he set his counterplot on foot through the medium of the Duc de Longueville, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of the Spurs and sent over to England. The death of the French Queen, Anne of Brittany, gave him a convenient opening as early as January.
Throughout this century, as in the reign of Henry VII., royal betrothals and royal marriages play an immense part in international negotiations: princesses are the shuttlecocks of statesmen. This particular form of diplomatic recreation now springs again into sudden prominence.
[Sidenote 1: The French marriage] [Sidenote 2: 1515 Francis I]
Henry's younger sister Mary was plighted to the young Charles of Castile and the Netherlands, who was to marry her in the ensuing summer; he being now fourteen, and she about seventeen. The boy's two grandfathers, now both disposed to leave England detached and isolated, began finding excuses for deferring the match. Wolsey pressed them, while secretly negotiating for Mary's marriage with Lewis of France. Thus when his plans were ripe, and not before, he found himself able to declare that the breach was entirely the fault of the other side, whose objects were frustrated by the new alliance, which had not entered into their reckoning. There was no further prospect of keeping France and England embroiled while they appropriated the spoils. Mary was married to the French King in October, and Henry was certainly projecting, in conjunction with him, an aggressive movement against his former allies, on the plea that his wife Katharine shared with her sister the succession to Castile, when the tangible results of the marriage were nullified by the death on January 1st of Lewis, and the succession to the French throne of his cousin Francis I., a prince who was some years younger than Henry himself, and quite as much athirst for military glory.
Again diplomacy intrigued about the person of Lewis's widow. Charles Brandon, [Footnote: Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk in the last reign, and Yorkist intriguer, was executed, apparently without further trial, in 1513. The Dukedom of Suffolk was bestowed on Brandon whom Mr. Froude's imagination has somehow developed into "the ablest soldier of the age," but he never did anything to justify a high estimate of his abilities.] Duke of Suffolk, an intimate personal friend of Henry's and a stout man-at-arms, who was also personally devoted to the Princess Mary, was selected by Wolsey as a better negotiator than one of the anti-French party. Henry and Francis were both keen hands at a bargain, and there was serious trouble as to Mary's dower and the financial arrangements connected with her return. Francis gained his purposes by alarming Mary and at the same time encouraging Suffolk to marry her out of hand; which he did, secretly. After that, there could be no more talk of Mary's dowry being repaid; and Henry had to content himself with making heavy demands on Suffolk's purse. The event is of further significance, because Henry at present had no offspring, and the young King of Scotland, son of his sister Margaret, was heir presumptive to the throne; whereas if his younger sister Mary should have children, it was certain that there would be a party to support their claim in preference to that of the Scottish monarch. In fact, ultimately, Mary's grandchild Lady Jane Grey was actually put up as a claimant to the throne.
The general effect however was, that Francis drew away from the English alliance, and associated himself more closely with Ferdinand; having Italian conquests and more particularly Milan in view. In the summer he set out, crossed the Alps with unexpected success, and in September won the great victory of Marignano, routing the Swiss troops which had hitherto been reputed invincible. Such triumphant progress however was more than the other monarchs or the Pope, Leo X., had reckoned for, and there was a rapid and general reaction in favour of checking the French King's career. The inflation of the power of France was satisfactory to no one else; but incidentally the effect was not disadvantageous to Wolsey, since it forced Pope Leo into an attitude of compliance with English demands in order to secure English support, with the result that Wolsey was raised to the Cardinalate, having recently been made Archbishop of York. "The Cardinal of York" is the title by which he is named in official references from this time (Nov., 1515).
Here it may be noted that a daughter, afterwards Queen Mary, was born to the King early in 1516. Before this time, two sons at least - according to some authorities no fewer than four - had been born, but had died either at birth or shortly after.
[1516-17 European changes]