The French Connection: Francis I and England’s Break with Rome
On 25 January 1528 in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, King Francis I of France was installed by proxy as a knight of the Order of the Garter. He thereby became the first French monarch in history to join the ranks of English chivalry. His election was a mark of personal distinction which he had been earnestly seeking for at least a decade. It was also an extraordinary event in the history of two ancient enemies and an important indicator of the strength of his relations with King Henry VIII of England.1 Three days earlier, at Burgos, the heralds of England and France had jointly and formally declared war on the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Beginning as it did with these two remarkable instances of Anglo-French unity, 1528 proved to be an important year for Henry VIII: it marked the mid-point of his reign and the start of his rise to become the most famous king in English history. For it was also in that year that Henry first sought French help in securing an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.