Tudor Wars, Battles and Rebellions Chronology – Henry VIII

Tudor Conflict

A chronology of Tudor  Wars, Battles and Rebellions in the reign of Henry VII

Please Note: This timeline is a work in progress


1509 (May)
Two new ships for the navy
At the time of his accession the Tudor navy consisted of just seven ships. Two of these were the formidable carracks ‘The Regent’ and ‘The Sovereign’ both modelled on French ships but the others were much smaller vessels. Henry knew that he would need a greater navy if he were to conquer France and ordered the construction of two new ships, ‘The Mary Rose’ and the ‘Peter Pomegranate’.
1510 (during)
Band of Pensioners
Henry established the Band of Pensioners, sometimes referred to as the Band of Spears. This military guard was based on the French Company of One Hundred Gentlemen of the King’s House. The Pensioners were higher in rank and more heavily armed than the Yeoman of the Guard and cost a great deal of money to maintain.
1510 (during)
The Mary Rose and The Peter Pomegranate
Construction began on two new ships. The Mary Rose (600 tons) and the Peter Pomegranate (400 tons) were the first ships to have side firing guns located below the main deck.
Spring 1511
French campaign planned
King Henry VIII remained deeply upset by the death of son, Henry in February. To hide his grief he began planning a campaign in France.
May 1511
Naval force sent to Spain
A small naval force commanded by Lord D’Arcy was sent to Spain to assist Ferdinand in his fight against the Moors. However, when by the time they arrived Ferdinand had made peace with the Moors and they sailed for home.
July 1511
Armed force to the Netherlands
A force of around 1,500 men commanded by Sir Edward Poynings was sent to support Margaret, Regent of the Netherlands, who was under attack by the Duke of Guelders.
August 1511
Scottish Piracy
Andrew Barton, a Scottish sailor whose father’s ship had been taken by the Portuguese, was given a signed authorisation by King James IV, to take merchandise from Portuguese ships until he had recovered his losses.
Henry VIII was very concerned that this would adversely affect trade because foreign ships would be reluctant to sail into British waters. He sent Thomas and Edward Howard in pursuit of Barton. Barton was killed and his two ships were taken.
When James IV heard the news he sent a letter of grievance to the English king.
Autumn 1511
War with France
It was no secret that Henry modelled himself on King Henry V and, like his predecessor, dreamed to becoming King of France. Ferdinand of Spain encouraged Henry knowing that if Henry invaded and defeated France he would not have to and it would save him the money and men.
December 1511
Conflict with Scotland
King James IV of Scotland was still angry with Henry over the piracy affair. He informed the Pope that the killing of Andrew Barton and the taking of his ships were an act of war on Scotland. As a result the peace between Scotland and England made in 1509 was no longer valid.
Mid December 1511
Conflict with Scotland
Anticipating trouble with Scotland, King Henry VIII recalled the English force commanded by Edward Poynings that had been sent to the Netherlands.
4th February 1512
War with France
Parliament was summoned to pass legislation necessary for the upcoming war with France. William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury appealed for peace but the legislation was passed.
April 1512
England declared war on France
Henry VIII formally declared war on France.
April 1512
War with France
Lord High Admiral, Edward Howard, was put in command of 18 ships. He was instructed to use the ships to divert the French from making any attack on England. The ships would also be used to carry the English army to France.
16th April 1512
War with France
Around 3,000 men were mustered at Blackheath in readiness for travelling to France.
late May
War with France
An English force, under the command of Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset, set sail from Southampton. Henry VIII and the Royal court watched the ship depart.
7th June
War with France
The English army commanded by the Marquis of Dorset landed at San Sebastion in Spain where they were to join forces with a Spanish army and attack Aquitaine. However, Ferdinand of Spain ordered his army to take Navarre leaving the English army without the transport, tents or beer promised by Ferdinand. The men had to drink Spanish wine which upset their stomachs. This, together with the Spanish heat and insanitary conditions led to an outbreak of dysentery.
July 1512
War with France
Sir Edward Howard, Lord High Admiral, destroyed the French ship ‘Le Conquet’ off the coast of Brittany.
early August 1512
English Army in Spain
Conditions had not improved for the abandoned English army in Spain. Fed up with their situation, the soldiers demanded a wage of 8 pence per day.
mid August 1512
English army sent north
An English force commanded by the Earl of Surrey was sent to York to be ready for any invasion by Scotland. Once in York Surrey prepared the north for rapid mobilisation should it be necessary.
10th August 1512
Battle of Brest
This was a naval battle between the English and French. The English fleet now numbered 25 ships including the ‘Sovereign’ commanded by Charles Brandon and the ‘Regent’ commanded by Thomas Knyvet. The English attacked a French fleet of 22 ships off the coast of Brest. The French fleet retreated apart from the ‘Cordeliere’ which was grappled with the ‘Regent’. The Cordeliere’s magazine then exploded destroying both ships and killing around 600 Englishmen including Knyvet and 1,000 French sailors.
October 1512
English army in Spain
The English army commanded by the Marquis of Dorset were still stranded in Spain. More than half the men had died from disease and they had accomplished nothing. Ferdinand wrote to Henry expressing his disappointment at the English commander’s refusal to follow his orders.
Late October 1512
War with France
Thomas Wolsey had drawn up detailed plans for the 1513 invasion of northern France. After the debacle in Spain he wanted to make sure everything went to plan.
Papers were drawn up listing the lines of every detail and the armies of each command. Assembly and departure dates, routes across the Channel, supply of weapons, tents, bedding and beer was carefully planned.
The twelve largest cannon ever made were commissioned. Nicknamed ‘The Twelve Apostles’ they quickly became a symbol of national pride.
4th December 1512
The Great Harry commissioned
To replace the lost flagship, ‘Regent’, a new large ship ‘Henry Grace a Dieu’ was commissioned. Known as ‘Great Harry’, this ship would displace 1,500 tons, have 7 decks, 150 guns and would cost around £9,000 to build.
January 1513
War Preparations
Preparations for the invasion of France were well underway. The navy had been increased significantly and foreign ambassadors were becoming concerned about the strength of the Tudor navy.
March 1513
No Peace with Scotland
The English had suggested a new peace with Scotland to prevent any Scottish invasion while Henry was at war in France. However, the Scottish king stated that due to the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France he could not enter into any agreement with England.
20th April 1513
Naval blockade of Brest
Lord Admiral, Edward Howard, launched a mission to attack the French fleet at Brest. However, the French had anticipated such a move and had a fleet of ships equipped for inshore fighting waiting for the English. The English had to abandon the attack and blockade the port instead.
May 1513
English Army to France
The English army began being transported to Calais.
June 1513
Earl of Surrey sent north
Newly appointed Lord Admiral, Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, and his son, also Thomas, were sent north at the head of an army. They were tasked with guarding the northern border against any invasion by Scotland in support of France. Thomas Wolsey wanted to prevent Howard from going to France because he was concerned that Howard might be bent on revenge for his brother’s death and not follow battle orders.
13th June 1513
‘Great Harry’ Launched
Henry VIII’s latest ship the ‘Henry Grace A Dieu’, known as ‘Great Harry’, was launched at Erith on the River Thames.
15th June 1513
Henry VIII travelled to Dover
Henry and Catherine of Aragon rode out of London at the head of an army of 11,000 men bound for Dover. 14 richly decorated horses pulled carts laden with armour and plate while 14 wagons carried sections of a prefabricated house which would be the King’s residence in the field. At Dover castle, Catherine was formally invested with the regency of the country. Her advisors were to be William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Ruthall and Richard Foxe.
mid June 1513
Siege of Therouanne
George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and Charles Somerset, Lord Herbert, lay siege to Therouanne.
30th June 1513
Henry VIII travelled to France
Henry left England and sailed to Calais. On arrival he was escorted to the Church of St Nicholas to give thanks for a safe crossing.
21st July 1513
Henry VIII marched into France
After spending three weeks in Calais, Henry marched into France at the head of the English army.
25th July 1513
Scottish ships sent to relieve Therouanne
King James IV of Scotland sent a naval force to aid the French at the siege of Therouanne. The ships also carried a message for the English King warning that unless Henry VIII left French soil, he would invade England.
4th August 1513
War with France
Henry VIII reached the siege of Therouanne. The prefabricated buildings were erected to make a permanent camp outside the town. The Officers were housed in large coloured tents while the men slept in small plain tents. The English were soon joined by German troops led by Henry’s ally, Maximillian.
12th August 1513
War with Scotland
King James IV of Scotland declared war on England.
15th August 1513
Fighting between English and German Soldiers
Fighting broke out between English and German troops camped outside Therouanne. German soldiers seized artillery and turned it on the English while English archers fired at the Germans. Officers on both sides eventually managed to diffuse the situation but a number of men had lost their lives.
16th August 1513
Battle of the Spurs (Guinnesgate)
News of a French advanced reached the English stationed at Guinnesgate, south of Therouanne. As the 15,000 French force drew near, Henry gave the order to attack and the two armies met near the village of Borny. The English artillery broke French lines and then while the French were in disarray, the English cavalry charged. Seeing the approaching English cavalry, the French turned and fled with such speed that the battle was dubbed the Day of the Spurs. Many French noblemen were captured and held to ransom.
22nd August 1513
James IV invaded England
King James IV of Scotland crossed the border into England at the head of an army of 20,000 men.
24th August 1513
Therouanne Fell to the English
King Henry VIII and Maximillian, Holy Roman Emperor, triumphantly entered Therouanne after the garrison surrendered.
late August 1513
War with Scotland
The Scottish King took the castles of Norham, Wark, Etal and Ford. He chose Ford for his base. The owner of the castle, Sir William Heron was sent to Scotland as a prisoner.
late August 1513
War with France
Following success at Therouanne, Henry and Maximillian moved to Tournai.
Early September 1513
Catherine travelled north to direct the English army
Catherine of Aragon travelled north to be on hand if needed. She spoke to reserve forces camped urging them to be victorious.
7th September 1513
War with Scotland
The Scottish army was camped in a strongly fortified location on Flodden Edge. Queen Catherine ordered the Earl of Surrey to engage the Scottish in battle. Surrey was reluctant to take on such a large force so suggested single combat to James. The Scottish King declined the challenge.
8th September 1513
War with Scotland
The Earl of Surrey began a march to Berwick to take the town from the Scots.
9th September 1513
Battle of Flodden Field
On hearing of the English march to Berwick, the Scots had broken camp and moved to intercept the English. The Scottish army had reached th top of Branxton Hill when the English were sighted. James ordered his men to charge down the hill and take the English by surprise. However, a large number of Scots were killed by English arrows and cannon fire. As they ran down the hill the Scots had broken formation and were picked off by the English. Those that made it to the bottom of the hill were slaughtered. King James IV was among the 10,000 Scottish dead.
14th September 1513
Surrey’s Army Disbanded
King James IV had been succeeded by his infant son, James V. With a minor on the Scottish throne, Scotland no longer posed a threat to England and the army was disbanded.
15th September 1513
Siege of Tournai
The English army in France lay siege to Tournai.
17th September 1513
News of Flodden reached Henry VIII
A messenger arrived in the English camp bearing news of the English victory at Flodden. The messenger presented Henry with the blood-stained coat that James IV had been wearing when he died.
21st September 1513
Fall of Tournai
After several days of bombardment by English cannon, Tournai fell to the English.
22nd October 1513
The English army came home
Ships were at work all day ferrying men home to England from Calais. There were celebrations to mark the return of the victorious English army.
late October 1514
Charles Brandon to France
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk and the Marquis of Dorset were sent to France to begin planning a mission to recover Navarre for France.
Late Spring 1515
Albany returned to Scotland
In contravention of the terms of the Treaty of Paris, Francis I allowed the Duke of Albany to return to Scotland. This act would see Henry’s sister removed as regent of Scotland. Francis wanted to begin a campaign in Italy and knew that if Albany returned to Scotland Henry would be occupied with Scotland and unable to mount an invasion of France. Albany demanded Margaret to hand over her sons. She refused and shut herself and her sons in Stirling Castle.
July 1515
Margaret Tudor asked Henry for help
As Albany prepared to lay siege to Stirling Castle, Margaret wrote to Henry begging him to come to her aid. Her husband had left her to fend for herself and she had no support.
4th August 1515
Stirling Castle under Siege
Albany placed Stirling Castle under siege. He had a force of around 7,000 men and Margaret had no choice but to surrender. Margaret was escorted to Edinburgh Castle while her two sons were left at Stirling Castle in the care of the Lord Fleming, Lord Borthwick and the Governor of the castle Lord Erskine. Albany took up residence in Holyrood House. He did not want to be in the same residence as the two princes for fear of being accused of poisoning should one or both of them die.
30th April 1517
Evil May Day riots
Trouble had been brewing against the numbers of foreigners in London for some time. People felt that the presence of so may foreigners was depriving them of food and income and a sermon preached by Dr Beal had made the situation worse. In anticipation of trouble, a curfew had been imposed but this had been broken and soon there were thousands of protestors on the streets and the May Day riots began.
1st May 1517
Evil May Day riots
News of the disturbance reached the King in the early hours of the morning. The King’s guard were sent onto the streets and the Duke of Norfolk was ordered to raise an army and march on the city. Rioting, looting and burning continued until it calmed around 3am. It was finally put down by the arrival of Norfolk’s army of 2,000 soldiers.


Published Feb 17, 2021 @ 3:15 pm – Updated – May 25, 2024 @ 2:23 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2021 – 2024). Tudor Wars Battles and Rebellions Chronology – Henry VIII Available: https://www.tudornation.com/tudor-wars-battles-and-rebellions-chronology-henry-viii Last accessed [date]