Treaty of London (1518)

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Cardinal Wolsey, the principal designer of the Treaty of London (1518)

The Treaty of London in 1518 was a non-aggression pact between the major European nations. The signatories were Burgundy, France, England, the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands, the Papal States and Spain, all of whom agreed not to attack one another and to come to the aid of any that were under attack.[1][2]

The treaty was designed by Cardinal Wolsey and so came to be signed by the ambassadors of the nations concerned in London.[3] Pope Leo X originally called for a five-year peace while the monarchs of Europe helped him fight back the rising power of the Ottoman Empire, which was encroaching into the Balkans.[2] Wolsey was very keen on instead making lasting peace and persuaded Henry to avoid war and take a more diplomatic route in foreign affairs.


During the 15th century, peace was established for 50 years in the Italian Peninsula, which was divided into many small city-states. Only a small war between Venice and the Papacy for the control of Ferrara caused a temporary lapse in the peace; this peaceful period came to an end with the French invasion of 1494. A succession of small wars followed and in 1518 the political possibilities of a peace treaty seemed a realisation.


The treaty reflected considerable glory upon the reign of King Henry VIII

All European countries were invited to London (Russia and Islamic Turkey were not considered to be a part of Europe, but of Asia at that time); the treaty hoped to bind the 20 leading states of Europe into peace with one another, and thus end warfare between the states of Europe. In October 1518 it was initiated between representatives from England and France, it was then ratified by other European nations and the Pope. The agreement established a defensive league based upon the following:

The terms committed states with an active foreign policy to not only commit to a stance of non-aggression, but also to promise to make war upon any state which broke the terms of the treaty. At the time, it was thought a triumph for Thomas Wolsey and allowed Henry VIII to greatly increase his standing in European political circles, to the extent that England became seen as a third major power.[4][full citation needed]


The peace the treaty brought lasted for a very short time. Wars broke out in a few years including wars between Denmark and Sweden, and between an alliance of England and Spain against France; the peace movement however continued for next centuries and became part of the Enlightenment movement in the 18th century.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Tudor History. Treaty of London
  2. ^ a b Glenn,, Richardson,. The Field of Cloth of Gold. New Haven. pp. 5–6. ISBN 9780300160390. OCLC 862814775.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. ^ Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, History at University of Wisconsin Archived 2007-09-15 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Morris, T.A. (1998). Europe and England in the sixteenth century. London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415150415.

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