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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

In 1523 under Brandon Earl of Suffolk


did the alliance between the houses of Burgundy and Tudor come to pass, the basis of which was to be the annihilation of the power of the Valois, and into which the English minister threw his world-wide ambition. From England also a declaration of war now reached Francis I. Whilst the war in Italy and on the Spanish frontiers made the most successful progress, the English, in 1522 under Howard Earl of Surrey, in 1523 under Brandon Earl of Suffolk, both times in combination with Imperial troops, invaded France on the side of the Netherlands, invasions which, to say the least, very much hampered the French. Movements also manifested themselves within France itself, which awoke hopes in the King that he might make himself master of the French crown as easily as his father had once done of the English. Leo X had already been persuaded to absolve the subjects of Francis I from their oaths to him. It was in connexion with this that the second man in France, the Constable of Bourbon, slighted in his station, and endangered in his possessions, resolved to help himself by revolting from Francis I. He wished then to recognise no other King in France but Henry VIII: at a solemn moment, after receiving the sacrament, he communicated to the English ambassador, who was with him, his resolution to set the French crown on King Henry's head: he reckoned on a numerous party declaring for him. And in the autumn of 1523 it looked as if this project would be accomplished. Suffolk and Egmont pressed
on to Montdidier without meeting with any resistance: it was thought that the Netherland and English forces would soon occupy the capital, and give a new form to the realm. Pope Hadrian was just dead at Rome; would not the united efforts of the Emperor and the King of England succeed, by their influence on the conclave, especially now that they were victorious, in really raising Wolsey to the tiara?

This however did not happen. In Rome not Wolsey but Julius Medici was elected Pope; the combined Netherland and English troops retreated from Montdidier; Bourbon saw himself discovered and had to fly, no one declared for him. This last is doubtless to be ascribed to the vigilance and good conduct of King Francis, but in the retreat of the troops and in the election of the Pope other causes were at work. In the conclave Charles V certainly did not act with as much energy for Wolsey as the latter expected: Wolsey never forgave him. But he too has been accused of having basely abused the confidence of the two sovereigns: he had kept up friendly connexions all along with Francis I and his mother, and they likewise had given him pensions and presents: he had purposely supported the Earl of Suffolk so ill that he was forced to retreat.[85] Of all the complaints raised against him, not so much before the world as among those who were behind the scenes, this was exactly the most hateful and perhaps the most effectual.

In 1524 the English took no active part in the war. Not till February 1525, when the German and Spanish troops had won the great victory of Pavia and King Francis had fallen captive into the Emperor's hands, did their ambitious projects and thoughts of war reawaken.

Henry VIII reminded the Emperor of his previous promises, and invited him to make a joint attack on France itself from both sides: they would join hands in Paris; Henry VIII should then be crowned King of France, but resign to the Emperor not merely Burgundy but also Provence and Languedoc, and cede to the Duke of Bourbon his old possessions and Dauphine. The motive he alleges is very extraordinary: the Emperor would marry his daughter and heiress, and would at some future time inherit England and France also and then be monarch of the world.[86] Henry declares himself ready to press on with the utmost zeal, provided he can do it with some security, and himself undertake the conduct of the war in the Netherlands and the support of Bourbon. The letter is from Wolsey, full of copious and pressing conclusions; but should not the far-reaching nature of its contents have been a proof even to him that it could never be taken in earnest?

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