Henry VIII and Francis I

The Final Conflict, 1540-47


The aim of this book is to explore the neglected subject of the final war between France and England at the end of Henry VIII’s and Francis I’s reigns. The relationship between these two monarchs has long fascinated historians and serious work has been done in the last generation, especially on the earlier period. Rather less has been done on the end of their reigns. The perspective is a dual one, from both that of England and France, with equal weight given to the reasons for conflict and the effects of war on both (on land and sea, in France and Scotland). For England, the military effort of the period proved to be extremely damaging and long-lasting, while France found itself at war on two fronts for the first time since the early 1520s. The book therefore asks why Henry VIII opted for the imperial alliance in 1542, thus committing himself to war in the long term, and why Francis I and his advisers did not do more to win over the English alliance. The Anglo-French war needs to be placed firmly in the context of the great Habsburg-Valois dual. The Anglo-French wars of this period have not received any serious modern analysis and the study of diplomacy in the period needs to be updated. Maps and plans are included and some illustrations.

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Biographical Note

David Potter has published extensively on the history of France and on Anglo-French relations in the sixteenth century, including War and Government in the French Provinces: Picardy 1470-1560 (1993), and, more recently, Foreign Intelligence and Information in Elizabethan England: Two English Treatises on the State of France, 1579-84 (2004/5) and Renaissance France at War: Armies, Culture and Society, c.1480-1560 (2008).

Review Quotes

"David Potter’s magisterial study [...] chronicles the preparations, both military and diplomatic, and the conduct of the war in meticulous detail over more than 500 pages. [...] The range of sources deployed is deeply impressive [...]. The range of printed material is equally impressive; it is fair to say that scholarship of this depth and breadth is rarely seen in print nowadays. The publishers, Brill, are to be congratulated in supporting such a project and producing a handsome volume. This book [...] is of great service to students of Anglo-French relations and conflict, but it is also vital reading to all those seeking to understand the dynamic forces that shaped European states during the sixteenth century." – David Grummit, University of Kent, in: Renaissance Quarterly 65/4 (Winter 2012), pp. 1322-1234 [DOI: 10.1086/669445]
"...Potter remedies the lack of scholarship on the last years of war between Henry VIII and Francis I with a meticulously researched study of the diplomatic, military, and economic aspects of the conflict..." – L. C. Attreed, College of the Holy Cross, in: Choice, February 2012

Table of contents


List of Maps * ix
List of Illustrations * xi
Abbreviations * xiii
Notes * xv
Note on Presentation * xv
Note on Money * xv
Preface * xvii
Maps * xix
Introduction * 1

Ι. ‘Whomever I join will (God willing) be the victor’: The Road to War * 33
Henry and Francis: Perpetual Allies or Wary Opponents? * 33
Henry, Francis and the German Princes * 48
Pulling Back from the Brink (1541–1542) * 55
‘To make the worlde newe again’: Henry and the Emperor * 66
The French Rearguard Action for Peace with England * 79

ΙΙ. ‘Dancing to the French Tune?:’ Scotland between England and France * 86
Scotland and Henry VIII * 86
The Anglo-Scottish War, 1542–1543 * 93
French Intervention, 1543 * 100
The English Invasion of 1544 * 107
Scottish Revenge, French Intervention, 1545 * 111

ΙΙΙ. England and the Wars in Flanders, 1542–1543 * 120
Border Tensions * 121
Watching from the Sidelines (June 1542–June 1543) * 124
Open War: Border Conflict and Wallop’s March to Landrecies (June–December 1543) * 136

IV. ‘Fighting over the Bear’s Skin’: The Invasion of France (1544) * 153
The Anglo-Imperial Plan of Campaign * 153
The French Attempt to Divide Their Enemies * 160
A Strategy in Dispute * 166
Invasion: Montreuil * 172
Invasion: Boulogne * 184
French Defence Strategy * 189
The Fall of Boulogne and French Attempts at Recapture * 197

V. An Unequal Contest? English Military Organisation, 1542–1547 * 205
Command and Control * 209
Recruitment and Organisation * 214
The Flanders Campaign * 218
By Land and Sea: The Expedition to Scotland, 1544 * 220
The Army Royal in France, 1544 * 223
Armies for the Defence of Boulogne, 1545–1546 * 235
Supply, Provisioning and Transport * 236
Paying for War * 243
The Panoply of War * 257

VI. The War in France, 1545–1546 * 266
The Renewal of War around Boulogne, 1545 * 266
Military Confrontation in France * 272
Final Phase: Surrey and Hertford Face du Biez * 286
Digging In: French and English Fortifications around Boulogne * 294

VII. France and England Compete for Troops: The Mercenary Market, 1543–1546 * 305
France and the Mercenary Market * 307
The Landenberg Fiasco: Henry VIII’s Quest for Mercenaries, 1544 * 310
The Anglo-French Duel in Germany, 1545 * 316
Changing Terms of Trade: 1546 * 336

VIII. The Admirals’ War * 347
The French War Effort at Sea * 347
The Navy of Henry VIII * 362
The Campaign in the English Channel, 1545 * 375

IX. ‘To entreate with the sworde in hand:’ Imperial and Protestant Mediation (1544–1546) * 391
England, France and the Emperor, 1544–1545 * 391
The German Protestants as Mediators * 399
Charles V as Mediator Again, Autumn 1545 * 402
Protestant Mediation at Calais, Autumn 1545 * 410

X. The Admirals’ Peace: The Treaty of Ardres-Guines (June 1546) * 427
The Need for Peace * 428
A Mediator from Venice * 432
Preparations * 438
Haggling over Terms * 442
‘He never brake in his hert nor never will’: The Renewal of Amity * 456
Conclusion The End of Two Reigns * 462

1. The Battle (1544) * 485
2. Planning for Wallop’s army, 1543 * 486
3. The Fleet for Scotland, 1544 * 488
4. The Rearguard, 1544 * 494
5. The Retinue of Thomas Cawarden (1 August–15 September 1544) * 498
6. Coat and Conduct Money for the Army,July–August 1545 * 500
7. Hertford’s Army, January 1546 * 503
8. Expenses of French and Scottish wars, 1542–1550: ‘A Brief declaration wherein are conteyned the greate and notable chardges of warres’ * 507
9. Estimates for the Cost of the War for Three Months from the Time of Henry VIII’s Departure from Calais, 1544 (By Richard Rich as Treasurer of the Wars) * 514
10. Expenses of the Rearguard, 4 May 1544–5 November 1544 * 516
11. The English Garrison at Boulogne * 518
12. Sir Hugh Paulet’s Account as Treasurer of Boulonnais, 13 September 1544–27 August 1546 * 519
13. France, Summary State Budgets 1515–1549 * 520
14. Annebault’s Embassy in August 1546 * 522
15. French Military Resources in Royal Propaganda: 1542 * 524

Bibliography * 527
Index * 545


All those interested in European political, military and diplomatic history in the period of the Renaissance.

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