Relations with France

During the early years of Elizabeth's reign her policies towards France differed little from traditional Tudor policy. Mostly this centred on claims for territory, especially in the north, which had been lost through the Hundred Years War. This was one of the reasons why Elizabeth chose to intervene in the French Civil War being fought between the Huguenots (Protestant) and the Catholic establishment. It was an attempt at opportunism; taking what was possible from the mess France was in. However, it had taken on a novel facet; Elizabeth was now fighting for members of the same faith against members of another faith that had vowed the destruction of her rule (see section on Religion).

To begin with Elizabeth was hesitant to help either side in the Civil War instead offering to mediate a settlement. When in June of 1562 it was rumoured that the Habsburgs were to send troops to help crush the Huguenot, Elizabeth decided it was time to help, not least because she didn't want a Habsburg- French army so close to England. The next month saw Elizabeth sign the Treaty of Hampton Court that promised to send aid to the Huguenots in both men and money. No one in England wanted the victory of the Catholics in France; they believed it would mark the beginning of a general purge of Protestantism in Europe. Moreover, Elizabeth wanted a chance to recover Calais for the crown (which had been granted away at Cateau- Cambresis). The plan was to capture Le-Havre and Dieppe to be swapped at the end of the war for Calais. The fact that there was not much planning beyond that point meant that English troops did little to stop the tide of the Catholic forces led by the Duke of Guise. When in 1562 the leader of the Huguenot forces - Conde - was captured England was in a humiliating position. Elizabeth stopped sending money but tried to hold on the Le-Havre (Dieppe had been lost) as a bargaining chip for Calais. The French surrounded the town while the Plague infected it. In the end the English forces had to limp away defeated and embarrassed.

This would be the last time an English monarch attempted to win back the lost lands in France.

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