Why did Henry VII carry out the Siege of Boulogne

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Within the first 6 years of Henry’s rule he had his first foreign opposition from France, which resulted in the Siege of Boulogne. Beginning in 1487, The Breton Crisis arose. France was trying to absorb Brittany into its own borders, with the opposition from numerous European powers such as Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, as Brittany would only strengthen France’s power further. Despite various treaties such as the Treaty of Redon in 1489 which agreed that Ferdinand and Maximillian would join with Henry to build an anti-French alliance hopefully preventing the absorption of Brittany. This treaty angered Charles VIII of France and he showed his displeasure to Henry’s actions by sheltering the pretender Perkin Warbeck.

One of the contributing reasons for Henry VII sieging Boulogne was France’s sheltering of Perkin Warbeck in 1491. They received this pretender as a stab at Henry for his involvement in the Breton Crisis. Charles VIII welcomed Warbeck as a prince and showed him appropriate honours. Warbeck was a real threat for the new King as he was impersonating a major claimant to the throne who had not been seen in years prior, Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of George, Duke of Clarence. After hearing of the harbouring of the Yorkist pretender, Parliament granted Henry a subsidy of £12,000 for a war with France in retaliation to this threat.

During the time Henry launched the Siege of Boulogne, he learned that France wanted a war in the lucrative Italian peninsular, meaning their focus would be directed away from happenings in England, and would be less willing to waste revenue fighting against them. Henry also took advantage of beginning the Siege late in the fighting season so the French were less prepared to militarily defend themselves. The siege benefitted the King greatly, as France did not want to engage in war with England, they agreed to sign the Treaty of Etaples to relax tensions. The Treaty meant England did not have to become involved in a major campaign which would entail loss of men and money, Henry gained international recognition and asserted his strength on the foreign front. The Siege of Boulogne had been successful in its motives.

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