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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Like that of Ferdinand to Navarre but he preferred


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first great question which was laid before him concerned his marriage: he decided for it without further delay. No doubt that in this political reasons came chiefly into account. France had been ever growing mightier, it had just then struck down the republic of Venice by a great victory; men thought it would one day or another come into collision with England, and held it prudent to unite themselves beforehand with those who could then be useful as allies. At that time this applied to the Spaniards above all others.[79] Yet, unless everything deceives us, political considerations only coincided with the prince's inclinations. The Infanta was in the full bloom of her age; the prince, was even younger than herself and against his will had been kept apart from any association with her, might well be impressed by her: besides she had known how to conduct herself with tact and dignity in her difficult position; with a blameless earnest mien she combined gentleness and loveable qualities. The marriage was carried out without delay; in the ceremonies of her husband's coronation Catharine could actually take part as Queen. How fully did these festivities again breathe the ancient character of chivalrous splendour. Men saw the King's champion, with his own herald in front, in full armour, ride into the hall on his war-steed which carried the armorial bearings of England and France; he challenged to single combat any one who would dare to say that Henry VIII was not the true heir of this
realm; then he asked the King for a draught of wine, who had it given him in a golden cup: the cup was then his own.

Henry VIII had a double reason for confidence on his throne,--the blood of the house of York also flowed in his veins. In European affairs he was no longer content with keeping off foreign influences, he wished to take part in them like his ancestors with the whole power of England. After the dangers which had been overcome had passed out of the memory of those living, the old delight in war awoke again.

When France now began to encounter resistance in her career of victory, first through Pope Julius II, then through King Ferdinand, Henry did not hesitate to make common cause with them. It marks his disposition in these first years, that he took arms especially because men ought not to allow the supreme Priest of Christendom to be oppressed.[80] When King Louis and the Emperor Maximilian tried to oppose a Council to the Pope, Henry VIII dissuaded the latter from it with a zeal full of unction. He drew him over in fact to his side: they undertook a combined campaign against France in which they won a battle in the open field, and conquered a great city, Tournay. Aided by the English army Ferdinand the Catholic then possessed himself of Navarre, which was given up to him by the Pope as being taken when it was in league with an enemy of the Church. Louis's other ally, the Scottish King James IV, succumbed to the military strength of North England at Flodden, and Henry might have raised a claim to Scotland, like that of Ferdinand to Navarre: but he preferred, as his sister Margaret became regent there, to strengthen the indirect influence of England over Scotland. On the whole the advantages of his warlike enterprises were for England small, but not unimportant for the general relations of Europe. The predominance of France was broken: a freer position restored to the Papacy. Henry VIII felt himself fortunate in the full weight of the influence which England had won over European affairs.


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