Assess the importance of the alliance between Scotland and France in shaping Tudor foreign policy in the period 1485-1603 Introduction

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Assess the importance of the alliance between Scotland and France in shaping Tudor foreign policy in the period 1485-1603


Stress how in the first half of the period (e.g. up to 1560)the Auld Alliance meant that Scotland and France could not be viewed in isolation, with monarchs having to carefully consider the implications policy towards France would have on relations with Scotland and vice versa. The Auld Alliance also meant that France was seen as the major threat to England’s national security given the potential for an invasion through Scotland, however much was to change with the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh. This was essentially a key turning point, as from this point onwards the alliance between Scotland and France weakened significantly, ensuring this factor would not influence Tudor foreign policy as heavily in the latter part of the period.

The need to befriend one before attacking the other

This is evident in 1489 and 1497 under Henry VII (showing the importance of the alliance) as in 1489 Henry can only adopt an aggressive policy against the French once he has renewed the 3 year truce with the Scots. Similarly, his plans to invade Scotland in 1497 to capture Warbeck are only possible due to the improved relations with France brought about by the 1492 Treaty of Etaples (in fact the French themselves had pressured the Scots to stop supporting Warbeck). It is however clear that this is only really an issue under Henry VII (what does this tell us about his midset?), as when Henry VIII opted to attack France in 1512 he makes no attempts to secure amicable relations with Scotland, ensuring that they invaded in 1513, culminating with the Battle of Flodden. The importance of the Scottish French link in shaping Tudor foreign policy is further reflected later on in Henry VIII’s reign and under the Protectorship of Somerset. Henry launches an invasion of France in an attempt to force the marriage between Edward and Mary Queen of Scots in 1544, and the French declare war on England under Somerset due to his aggressive garrisoning policy which was hoped to secure the marriage. The importance of the alliance between Scotland and France was not really considered by Mary I, but it was not until the reign of Elizabeth that the importance of the alliance in shaping Tudor foreign policy began to wane. Although the turning point was undoubtedly the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh which formally ended the Auld Alliance, it did continue to shape Tudor policy after this period (for example Elizabeth only gave limited support to regent Morray, helping him capture Edinburgh Castle and then quickly withdrawing her troops so as to avoid angering the French) and it was not until the 1572 Treaty of Blois, where the French agreed to stop supporting Mary Queen of Scots that that the alliance was completely broken and would no longer shape Elizabeth’ foreign policy.

Importance in shaping dynastic policy

The alliance between France and Scotland was something that could greatly destabilise the dynastic stability of the English monarch, therefore it is inevitable that this would at points greatly influence Tudor foreign policy. Interestingly this was not the case under Henry VII (as the French and Scots both supported Warbeck at different times, France from 1491-2, Scotland from 1495-7), however it was during the latter part of Henry VIII’s reign as well as the reign of Edward VI and the first half of Elizabeth I’s reign. Although the close ties between France and Scotland did not threaten Henry VIII at a personal level, they did threaten his dynasty as the French could offer their support to Mary Queen of Scots, as dynastic rival to Henry’s son, Edward. Henry’s desperation to secure his dynasty and his son’s safety through a betrothal with Mary Queen of Scots, and his subsequent decision to go to war with France in 1544 to stop their support in encouraging the Scots to resist (the Scottish parliament repudiated the agreement in 1543) clearly shows the importance of the French Spanish relations in determining Tudor foreign policy at a dynastic level (as is also the case under Somerset) I appreciate that this is somewhat repetitive, and that I haven’t worded it particularly well, but the really important thing to stress is that it was not the alliance between Scotland and France that was instrumental in shaping Tudor Foreign Policy, but the potential for such an alliance to disrupt the monarch’s dynastic security that was crucial in determining Tudor foreign policy. This failure to secure a marriage led to problems for Elizabeth, and certainly motivated her decision to become involved in the French Wars of Religion in 1564 in order to reduce the power of the Guise faction within France, who continued to champion the cause of Mary Queen of Scots, despite the 1560 Treaty of Edinburgh which had seen the end of the formal alliance between France and Scotland. The importance of the Auld Alliance in shaping foreign policy at a dynastic level is clearly evident from the 1540s through to the 1560s, eventually ending in 1572.

Importance in shaping policy with regards to national security

Importance in shaping policy towards Spain- better relations under Eliz

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