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- England Under the Tudors - 10/90 -
satisfaction of seeing it before her death. Political exigencies had only recently been accepted by Pope Alexander as justifying a dispensation for the divorce of Lewis XII. from his wife, to enable him to marry Anne of Brittany; but this dispensation of Pope Julius was destined to an immense importance in history--to be the hinge whereon swung open the gates of the English Reformation.
[Sidenote: 1499-1506 Affairs on the Continent]
The years from 1498 to 1503 had not been without importance in Franco- Spanish relations, more particularly with reference to the position of the two Powers in Italy. Lewis had made himself master of Milan in 1499; but the kingdom of Naples presented a more difficult problem; since, after disposing of the reigning family, the French King would still find a rival claimant in Ferdinand of Spain. In 1500 these two monarchs agreed to a partition; but French and Spaniards quarrelled, war broke out, the Spanish captain Gonsalvo de Cordova expelled the French; and in 1508 Naples was annexed to Aragon. A renewed attempt of France upon Naples in the following year proved a complete failure.
In 1503 died the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI.--poisoned, as it was believed, by the cup he had intended for another. The personal wickedness of Alexander and his relatives was the climax of papal iniquity, the _reductio ad absurdum_ of the claim of the Roman Pontiff to be the representative of Christ on earth. His immediate successor hardly survived election to the Holy See; and was followed by Julius II., an energetic and militant Pope, who was bent on forming the Papal States into an effective temporal principality.
In the next year Isabella of Castile died, and by her death the European situation was again materially affected. While she lived she worked in complete accord with her husband, Ferdinand of Aragon; her name stands high among the ablest of European sovereigns. But with her death the Crowns of Castile and Aragon were no longer united. Ferdinand was not King of Castile; the sceptre descended to the dead Queen's daughter Joanna, [Footnote: The elder sister was already dead, as well as the one brother.] and in effect to her husband, the Archduke Philip, Maximilian's son, and after her to their son Charles. At the most, Ferdinand could hope only to exercise a dominant influence (converted after Philip's death in 1506 into practical sovereignty as Regent), with a perpetual risk of Maximilian turning his flighty ambitions towards asserting himself as a rival.
[Sidenote: The Earl of Suffolk 1499-1505]
Although both Warbeck and Warwick had been removed in 1499, Henry had not been altogether free from Yorkist troubles in the succeeding years. Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, was brother of that Earl of Lincoln who had fallen at the battle of Stoke, and son of a sister of Edward IV. The Earl had not hitherto come forward as a claimant to the throne; but in 1499 he developed a personal grievance against the King, and betook himself to the Continent, where a certain Sir Robert Curzon espoused his cause with Maximilian. At the time, nothing came of the matter; Henry was not afraid of Suffolk, whom he induced to return to England with a pardon. In 1501, however, the Earl again betook himself to the Continent and made a direct appeal to Maximilian for assistance. But Henry was now on particularly good terms with the Archduke Philip, and Maximilian was inclining to revert to friendly relations with England. He was in his normal condition of impecuniosity, and Henry was prepared to provide a loan to help him in a Turkish war if his own rebellious subjects were handed over. The issue of these negotiations, towards the end of 1502, was a loan from Henry of fifty thousands crowns, and a promise from Maximilian to eject Suffolk and his supporters. In the meantime several of Suffolk's accomplices were executed in England, including James Tyrrel who had abetted Richard III. in the murder of the Princes in the Tower; and [Footnote: See genealogical table (_Front_.).] William de la Pole and William Courtenay (son of the Earl of Devonshire) were imprisoned on suspicion of complicity. Suffolk, however, remained at Aix la Chapelle, Maximilian making him many promises and providing inadequate supplies, while with equal lightness of heart-- having got his loan--he left his pledges to Henry unfulfilled by anything more substantial than professions that he was doing his best to carry them out. In 1504 the migratory Earl had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Duke of Gueldres, who detained him for use as circumstances might dictate--to the annoyance of the Kings of France and Scotland, both of whom wished him to be handed over to the King of England.
[Sidenote: 1505 Henry's position]
In 1505 then Henry's relations with all foreign Powers were satisfactory: that is, none of them were hostile and most of them were anxious for his friendship. In these later years, however, of Henry's reign he appears consistently in a more definitely unamiable light than before. The two counsellors who, however thoroughly they endorsed his policy, had probably exercised a moderating and refining influence--Cardinal Morton and Reginald Bray--were now both dead, and there is no doubt that Elizabeth of York, popular herself, had been a very judicious helpmeet to her husband. Moreover, though he was still by no means an old man, Henry was becoming worn out; yet he could never escape from dynastic anxieties, the younger Henry being now his only son. Marriage schemes had always been prominent features in his policy, and the marriage schemes for himself which he evolved one after the other in the closing years of his reign show him in a singularly unattractive light, at the same time that his financial methods were growing increasingly mean, and his evasions of honourable obligations increasingly unscrupulous.
Now the Duke of Gueldres was in conflict with the Archduke Philip--at this time not only lord of the Burgundian domains, but also in right of his wife King of Castile and not on the best of terms with his father-in-law of Aragon. In 1505 Philip got possession in his turn of the person of Suffolk, by capturing the town where the Duke of Gueldres held him. Therefore during this year Henry became particularly anxious to make friends with Philip, and lent him money; having got which, Philip preferred placing his hostage again in the hands of the Duke of Gueldres, who had submitted to him.
[Sidenote: Schemes for his marriage]
Out of these conditions rose another futile suggestion of a marriage for Henry: who had already considered and dismissed the idea of marrying the younger of the two living ex-Queens of Naples--both named Joanna--a niece of Ferdinand of Aragon. The wife now proposed was Philip's sister, Margaret, who on her first widowhood had been spoken of as a possible alternative to Katharine for Arthur of Wales. Since then, she had become Margaret of Savoy, the name by which she is generally known; but had been widowed a second time. This proposal probably came from Philip, but was resolutely resisted by Margaret herself.
[Sidenote: 1506 Philip in England]
In 1506 fortune favoured Henry. Philip sailed from the Netherlands in January to take possession of the throne of Castile: but was driven on to the English shores by stress of weather. The English King received him royally, but while the utmost show of friendliness prevailed, Philip found that he had no alternative to acceptance of Henry's suggestions. Before the King of Castile departed, he had not only entered on a treaty for mutual defence against any aggressor, but had actually delivered over the person of the unhappy Suffolk [Footnote: So Busch. Gairdner is doubtful.] to his sovereign, though under promise that he should not be put to death. The prisoner, however, was committed to the Tower, and though Henry kept his word, he is reported to have advised his son that the promise would not be binding on him. At any rate Suffolk was executed, apparently without further trial, early in the next reign. His brother Richard, known as the "White Rose," who had abetted him, remained abroad, and was ultimately killed in the service of Francis I. at the battle of Pavia in 1525, leaving no children.
Philip had hardly departed from England when a new commercial treaty which he had authorised was signed with the Netherlands, terminating the war of tariffs which had again become active in recent years. This treaty, it is not surprising to remark, was so favourable to England that in contradistinction to the older _Intercursus Magnus_ the Flemings entitled it the _Intercursus Malus_.
[Sidenote: Death of Philip]
The few remaining months of Philip's life were troubled. The position in Castile was difficult enough, and in his absence the Duke of Gueldres again revolted, with some assistance from France. Henry interfered, as he was bound to do by the recent treaty, not without some effect. But Philip's death in September left his wife Joanna Queen of Castile, with her father Ferdinand as Regent, and her young son Charles Lord of the Netherlands, with Margaret of Savoy at the head of the Council of Regency. Under these new conditions Henry agreed to modifications in the new commercial treaty, which indeed, as it stood, was almost impossible of fulfilment; probably in the hope that his project of marriage with Margaret of Savoy might still be carried out, the dowry she would bring being very much more satisfactory than that of Joanna of Naples.
[Sidenote: 1507-8 Matrimonial projects]
In a very short time, however, Margaret had another rival, at least for the purposes of diplomacy. This was Joanna of Castile, Philip's widow, whom Henry had seen in the spring of 1506. That her sanity was already very much in question seems to have made very little difference. Throughout the greater part of 1507 and 1508 the English King was making overtures to Margaret herself, and for Joanna to Ferdinand, blowing hot and cold in the matter of his son Henry and Katharine, and pushing on the betrothal of his younger daughter Mary with the boy Charles--a proposal brought forward, when the latter was but four months old, in 1500, but not at that time sedulously pressed. In part, at least, the explanation of all this diplomatic play lies in Henry's relations with Ferdinand. The King of Aragon, having lost his wife Isabella, wished to retain control of Castile; at the same time he was in difficulties about paying up the balance of Katharine's dowry, without which Henry would not allow her marriage with his son to go forward, while the luckless princess was kept scandalously short of supplies. Henry certainly wished to put all the pressure possible on Ferdinand to get the dowry; perhaps he seriously contemplated marriage with Joanna as a means of himself depriving Ferdinand of control in Castile; the marriage of Charles to his daughter Mary would have a similar advantage. On the other hand, if he married Margaret of Savoy he would get control of the Netherlands, and still grasp at the control of Castile through Charles, while playing off the boy's two grandfathers, Maximilian and Ferdinand, against each other. Henry was in fact paying Ferdinand back in his own coin; but the picture is an unedifying one, of craft against craft, working by sordid methods for ends which had very little to do with patriotism and no connexion with justice.
[Sidenote: 1508 The League of Cambrai]
If, however, it was now Henry's primary object to isolate Ferdinand so that he could impose his own terms on him, the object was not attained. Maximilian had just taken up a new idea--the dismemberment of Venice; an object which appealed both to Lewis of France and to Pope Julius. Ferdinand could generally reckon that if he joined a league he would manage to get more than his share of the spoils for less than his share of the work. The League of Cambrai--a simple combination for robbery without excuse--was formed at the end of 1508. Henry was left out, for which, indeed, he cared little, knowing that the process of spoliation would inevitably result in quarrels among the leaguers. But though he advanced the arrangements for the marriage of Charles and Mary so far as to have a proxy ceremony performed, the marriage project with Joanna was withdrawn, and his overtures were also finally declined by Margaret of Savoy.
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