Henry VIII, the Reign
Mary Rose and the Divorce
A Maritime Spectacular
Charles made good time from Spain and, rather than land at Southampton, Wolsey rowed out to meet him, and for his trouble Charles granted him the financial rewards of an entire Spanish bishopric and the substantial part of the revenues of another.
On Whit Sunday, 27 May 1520, Charles rode at the head of a procession from Dover to Canterbury, where the great royal meeting took place and Henry VIII and Queen Catherine embraced their nephew for the first time. Over the next few days, some treaties were signed and then Charles rode back to Dover and sailed on to Flushing while Henry and Wolsey headed to Calais and then on to the jolly in the field.
After the Field of Cloth of Gold, Henry and Wolsey met Charles again at Gravelines, a few miles north of Calais.
All had gone safely for Charles, and he was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in the great cathedral of Charlemagne in Aachen on 23 July 1520.The emperor was grateful for the part Wolsey had played in his secure arrival and must have thought sailing back to Spain from the Netherlands, if matters were arranged and managed with the same efficiency as the outward journey, would be a breeze.
Back to War
However, soon after Charles was crowned, the peace with France that had held since 1518 was shattered. By the spring of 1521, fighting had broken out in both Luxemburg and Navarre. Each side blamed the other. Accusations flew on one side that the Valois dynasty had started it and on the other side that the Habsburg dynasty had started it; it was even rumoured that some third party had started it. For Charles, who needed to get back to Spain, this was a dangerous situation.
For Wolsey, the arch negotiator, the resulting situation could not have been more convenient if he had engineered it himself. Charles was stuck in the Netherlands when he soon needed to be in Spain but he would be in mortal danger if he left by either land or sea.
Calais, Bruges and Double-Dealing
Wolsey was soon in action: he pulled on his arbiter’s hat, marshalled his great entourage, which included Thomas Ruthall, Cuthbert Tunstall and Thomas More, and set off across the Channel, arriving at Calais on 2 August 1522. The fighting continued unabated, and ostensibly he was there to direct a peace conference. The first session was held on 7 August, and the Habsburg and Valois representatives were present. Charles waited on safe territory in Bruges, from where he wrote to Wolsey and asked the cardinal to go and meet him there.
In response, Wolsey, supposedly the impartial mediator, bluffed the French and went off to meet the emperor in Bruges, where they negotiated a treaty to their own advantage but excluding and to the detriment of the French. The treaty contracted Charles to a future marriage with Henry’s daughter Princess Mary; she was five at the time and of course the marriage never happened.
Beyond all the marriage stipulations, however, most of the remainder of the treaty dealt with Charles’s return to Spain the following spring and the protection he would receive on the journey from the English navy. The return was to be coordinated with a joint, simultaneous declaration of war against France. Wolsey agreed to all this and in return Charles promised to make him pope.
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