History:Treaty of Bruges (1521)

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The treaty of Bruges (not to be confused with the unrelated 1375 treaty between England and France) was a secret treaty of alliance between England and Spain signed late in the year 1521[1] during the 1521-1526 Italian war. The treaty sought to establish a date for war with France waged by an Anglo-Hapsburg alliance. The treaty was between the English King Henry VIII and Spanish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and signed by representatives of the interested parties and subject to papal agreement. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was the chief representative for the Kingdom of England and Margaret of Savoy represented the Hapsburg interests.[2]

Terms of the Treaty

The treaty was a secret document that detailed plans for a war with France, conducted against them by an Anglo-Hapsburg alliance, by March 1523. It demanded that from February 1522 each party was to make allowance for their leader's to be able to move freely across the Channel between England and the Hapsburg Low Countries in order to raise money and men for the war. 3000 troops were recommended to complete the task of protecting the movements of Henry VIII and Charles V.[2]

Historian John Guy suggests the treaty detailed for a 'Great Enterprise'[1] to be established between the two allies, as Charles V worked through French possessions in Italy and Henry VIII invaded Northern France itself. Both were to land with an agreed 10,000 cavalry and 30,000 troops, though the treaty makes specific prevision for England to be able to use some of Charles V's forces in that figure. The allies were expected to meet their objectives by November or further action was to be taken, namely Papal interdicts. Charles V was even expected to finish his Italian efforts by the 15th May 1523.[2]

Reality of the Treaty

Throughout the alliance's lifetime, the relationship between Henry VIII and Charles V was marked by English scepticism after Ferdinand II of Aragon let the English down in 1511. Though 1523 was the suggested start date, a small English expedition, led by the Earl of Surrey, assaulted Picardy in 1522 with little real consequence or notable victories.[3] The offensive's date was delayed until 1524 through the 1522 Treaty of Windsor between Henry VIII and Charles V[1], possibly to further drain French finances being spent in Italy. In 1525 the 'Great Enterprise' was abandoned and the constantly oscillating foreign policy of Wolsey and Henry switched outlook towards France and away from Spain in the 1525 Treaty of the More.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Guy, John (1988). Tudor England. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 106. ISBN 0-19-285213-2. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Henry VIII: August 1521, 23-31 | British History Online" (in en). http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol3/pp616-631. 
  3. Guy, John (1988). Tudor England. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-19-285213-2.