The invasion of France began in early autumn 1523, and the Duke of Suffolk Charles Brandon left Calais with his troops on 19 September.Within a few days, news arrived that Pope Adrian had died on 14 September. The timing of this for Wolsey couldn’t have been more spectacular if he had designed it himself. Now his time had come, surely?
The cardinal waited for the outcome of this latest papal election. Brandon pushed on into France and made impressive progress south towards Paris. Wolsey had expected to hear quickly from Rome. He expected his election to be a formality and exchanged correspondence with Pace and Hannibal in Rome.Then he became pensive: on 3 November he was telling Henry that there would never be a better chance of enforcing his entitlement to the French crown. Two weeks earlier, he had told the king that there was no money to pay the troops in November unless Henry could spare £10,000 out of his own pocket.
Time went on, and there were more letters but still no real news. He paced this way and that way; he clicked his heels, twiddled his thumbs and counted sheep through the night.Then it came: the news. The Medici family had recovered the papacy.
Brandon was waiting for battering rams to knock down the walls of Paris; the city was there for the taking but Wolsey was not the new pope.Wolsey was devastated. That was it for him and the Hapsburgs. They had used him; the scroungers had used the protection of his navy and had used him to secure the Netherlands and he had got nothing out of it all.
Montdidier was the furthest point of Brandon’s advance. While he was there he did not receive pay for his troops, reinforcements or his battering rams for the walls of Paris, and the 1523 campaign collapsed around him.In early January 1524, Wolsey wrote to William Knight with instruction to pass on his feelings to Margaret, Charles’s regent in the Netherlands.
‘He [Knight] is to remind her of the king’s endeavours to compose the differences between the French king and her nephew, and his final declaration against Francis, which drew on a war with Scotland, and deprived him of the money due to him from France.
Since that time he has carried on the war against the common enemy; by which means the emperor has been able to attend to Spain, has preserved the Low Countries, passed quietly into Spain, recovered Milan, Jeanes, and Tournay, redeemed the pension of Naples, and is freed from his bond to marry the French king’s daughter, to which he was bound by the treaty of Noyon. The King is rejoiced at his success, but still nothing has been done for the King’s profit, and no portion of his inheritance recovered.’