Anglo-French War (1549–1550)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: England and France
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): France
DECLARATION: England declared war on August 9, 1549.
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: France attempted to
recapture Boulogne and environs, one of England’s
last possessions in France.
OUTCOME: Though French forces encircled the city, they
could not capture it; France purchased it from a warweary
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
TREATIES: Treaty of Boulogne, March 24, 1550
The Treaty of Campe (1546), concluded between Henry
VIII (1491–1547) of England and Francis I (1494–1547)
of France, ended the ANGLO-FRENCH WAR (1542–1546),
but it failed to reconcile the deep-seated animosity
between the two nations. Thus, within a few years of the
deaths of the two principal signatories, a new generation
of Anglo-French Wars began.
French king Henry II (1519–59), like his father, Francis,
could not tolerate the existence of English possessions
on French soil and was particularly offended by the terms
of the Campe agreement, which annexed Boulogne to
England. In 1548 he therefore initiated hostilities against
the underage and ailing successor to Henry VIII, Edward
VI (1537–53), who governed under the inept regency of
his brother-in-law, Edward Seymour (c. 1500–52), duke of
Somerset. This state of affairs invited French rebellion in
the English possessions, and the French also supported
rebellious Scots in the British Isles themselves.
Provoked by Henry II’s continual harassment, England
officially declared war on France on August 9, 1549. The
French, counting on English civil unrest in Scotland to
prevent a serious defense of Boulogne, mounted a largescale
offensive strike in the area around the city on August
14. By September Henry was able to lay siege to Boulogne
itself. However, the small English contingent within the
walls of Boulogne, led by Edward Fiennes (1512–85),
managed to weather the siege. With the approach of winter
both sides dug in, and the war became one of attrition.
By January both sides were ready to negotiate.
The talks began on February 18, 1550. Representing
the English monarch was the duke of Northumberland—
Somerset had been deposed in January—and Henry II,
himself represented the French. On March 24, 1550, the
Treaty of Boulogne was signed. Since the French had been
unable to take Boulogne, they agreed by treaty to purchase
it for £400,000. Accepting this sum, the English abandoned
one of the last of their French possessions in April
1550, and a shaky peace between the two nations endured
for seven years.
See also ANGLO-SCOTTISH WAR (1542–1549).
Further reading: Stephen Alford, Kingship and Politics
in the Reign of Edward VI (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2002); Frederic J. Baumgartner,
Henry II, King of France, 1547–1559 (Durham, N.C.: Duke
University Press, 1988).