Treaty of the More – No Place for Catherine of Aragon in the New Order
With doubt sown and then propagated in the king’s mind about the validity of his marriage, and his conscience eased about his lack of virility, the summer of 1525 passed. Wolsey succeeded in his task of turning Henry from a friend of the Habsburg dynasty into a friend of the Valois dynasty.
The cardinal persuaded the king that the union Henry’s father had arranged with Catherine of Aragon’s parents was illegal and that their failure to produce a male heir was a consequence; the marriage must be annulled. After all, Henry only had to look to the perfidy of his wife’s father, Ferdinand, as an example of how even the pious, cautious Henry VII and Henry VIII’s grandmother Margaret had been tricked in dastardly fashion into a Spanish marriage. He became persuaded that Ferdinand’s grandson Charles was an inherent double-dealer and that England’s chances of prosperity would be better served by an alignment with the French than with that Germanic-come-Spaniard emperor.
With Francis still incarcerated in Spain, on 30 August 1525 England and France signed the Treaty of the More at Wolsey’s ostentatious palace at More Park near Rickmansworth. The agreement incorporated terms for some territorial claims on France to be given up and in return, Wolsey would receive a pension from France of twenty thousand pounds a year. Also, the French would settle what was owed to Henry VIII’s sister Mary from her marriage to Louis XII. Finally, England agreed to work to secure the release of Francis.
Shakespeare presumed that Wolsey intended to seal the new concord with the marriage of Francis’s sister and Henry VIII, but she shrewdly married elsewhere: to Henry II of Navarre.
In her stead, Wolsey and the French engineered a device of enticement for the king in the form of an ersatz French noblewoman known as Anne Boleyn, whose father, Thomas, was probably involved in the negotiations.
Anne grew up in the Loire Valley in service to Francis’s wife, Queen Claude, and was something of a protégé of Francis’s sister Marguerite and a companion of Diane de Poitiers. She spent much time at Amboise and Blois, from whence had hailed Stephen of Blois, who became King of England in the twelfth century. King Stephen and his queen consort, Matilda de Boulogne, wrested the kingdom of England from Henry I’s daughter, also named Matilda.
In the Loire Valley, Joan of Arc was, and still is, revered for her rout of the English in 1429, a few miles upriver from Amboise and Blois at Orleans.
Though born of English parents, Anne was wholly French, and so, with some creative genealogy and Wolsey’s persuasive promises for her future as Gloriana, she would become Good Queen Anne, England’s saviour from Habsburg hegemony. So sugared with amour courtois, Anne Boleyn was nominated by the cardinal and the French king’s mother Louise and his sister Marguerite to secure the Valois – Tudor alliance Her dual agency should, so the cardinal contrived, secure the English head of state’s acceptance of affaires de Valois while Wolsey continued to develop his own ambitions for Christendom.
Henry VIII was in thrall to all the cardinal undertook. His lack of organisational and leadership abilities are succinctly alluded to in the preamble of the Eltham Ordinances of January 1526, the intention of which was to reduce the number of hangers-on and scroungers the king allowed into his presence. It is little wonder then that Sir Nicholas Carew was again at the head of a list of Henry’s jousting and pastime companions expelled from court to be replaced by professional administrators.