Political situation

Almost all government policy is wrong… but frightfully well carried out.

Sir Humphrey Appleby, Yes Minister

Major factions


A previously war-torn country united by the new Tudor Monarchy. It was Catholic country, now flirting with the Protestant Reformation to various degrees. The most consistent elements of theological thought have been that Henry VIII has absolute power and all the wealth that used to belong to the Catholic Church. Owing to the King’s large family and lack of theological consistency, it’s not clear what the future of religion in England will be, or who will lead it.

Holy Roman Empire/Spain

A new country formed by the consolidation of the Christian Kingdoms of Aragon and Castille after the Reconquista violently removing all non-Catholics from Granada. King Charles V of Spain rules much of Europe due to him being the Holy Roman Emperor. Unshakably and devoutly Catholic. Catherine of Aragon is Charles’ Aunt.


A Catholic country with moderate but decreasing tolerance for a Protestant minority. King Francis is essentially surrounded on land by the Holy Roman Empire which is the main reason for their history of expensive and long-running wars.

Schmalkaldic League

The Schmalkaldic League is a collection of Lutheran nations in the Low Countries carved out of the lands that formerly owed fealty to the Holy Roman Empire. They have formed a mutual defense pact against the Holy Roman Empire wanting to take them back.

Catholic Church

Led by Pope Paul III in Rome as both temporal and spiritual leader. Rome is effectively its own independent state. The Pope commands the loyalty of Catholic Princes and their nations as well as vast wealth. With the stroke of a pen, the Pope can command nations to holy war or order them to make peace. The Protestant reformation is a great concern, having lost the loyalty of England and the Schmalkaldic League.

Politics, past present and future


Early in his reign Henry is third greatest Prince in Europe after France and Spain. This makes him a power broker in their constant wars. Most of this is heavily facilitated by Cardinal Wolsey while England is still Catholic.
In 1534, Henry broke with Rome and the Catholic faith to enable his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Perhaps predictably this messed everything up, causing France and Spain to ally against England’s great heresy.
In 1540, Henry allied with the protestant Schmalkaldic League via his marriage to Anne of Cleves to try and create a Protestant Alliance against the dastardly Catholic Princes of France and Spain.
Shortly after this, Henry betrayed the Schmalkaldic League to ally with Spain to invade France, successfully taking Bologna.


Having taken Bologna, Henry reconsiders his treaty with Spain. England decides not to support Spain’s attack on Paris and withdraws from France. France is able to repel Spain. France retaliates by invading England via Scotland and the Isle of Wight (famously sinking the Mary Rose).

France and Spain sign the Treaty of Crépy to broker a lasting peace. This will radically reset their borders, including the The Netherlands changing hands entirely. The treaty is to be sealed with a marriage involving the Duke of Orleans. Unfortunately, the Duke promptly dies, ruining the treaty and embarrassing everybody.

After the most expensive war of Henry’s reign, the treasuries of France, Spain and England are all nearly empty. The three belligerents have resorted to desperate measures – diplomacy! Mediators from the Schmalkaldic League are leading three way peace treaty negotiations. They are only neutral party easily available, even if they are Lutheran heretics. However, each side is trying to secretly persuade the Protestant Princes of the Schmalkaldic League to ally with them and give them the advantage in continuing the war.


The game will focus mostly on English politics. There are several potential complications to England’s ongoing security. France, England and Spain have all been at war with each other and likely will be again. These foreign wars provide engaging politics for the Court, but this is all business as usual for England. The only war people actually fear is civil war that would follow an unclear succession. In summary:

  • The Schmalkaldic League refuse to support England unless they commit to Lutheran theology. This conflicts with Henry’s present theology. But, Spain and France aim to remove the Protest heresy from the world. This includes Henry, due to his present theology. 
  • King Francis of France is bitter about being held prisoner by Emperor Charles of Spain during the Italian war of 1526. Emperor Charles of Spain is still bitter about Henry’s treatment of his Aunt – Catherine of Aragon. The Duke of Cleves of the Schmalkaldic League is upset over Henry’s treatment of his sister – Anne of Cleves. Henry is bitter that nobody keeps their treaties with him.
  • France wants England to commit to peace with Scotland. Naturally, England is currently at war with Scotland (known as the Rough Wooing). Henry feels Mary Queen of Scots should marry England’s heir to the Throne rather than France’s heir. Also England fears France using Scotland as a staging ground to invade England again.
  • Spain and France have ongoing territorial disputes over large areas of Europe. These include Naples, Milan, Burgundy, Flanders and the Netherlands. Henry feels the throne of France is the birthright of the King of England. Nobody else agrees.