Treaty of London (1518)

Eumenis Megalopoulos | Dec 9, 2022

Table of Content


The Treaty of London of 1518 was a non-aggression pact between the major European powers. The contracting parties were France, England, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States, Spain, the Duchy of Burgundy and the Netherlands, which not only committed themselves to peace among themselves but were also to support each other in the event of war.

The treaty was drafted by Cardinal Wolsey and was signed by the ambassadors present in London. Wolsey had a special role in this, as he was both Lord Chancellor of the British King and Papal Legate. The treaty was a reaction to the rise of the Ottoman Empire, which was increasingly spreading into the Balkans and thus strengthening cohesion within Christian Europe.

For centuries, the hope for long-term peace was mainly driven by Christian officials. During the Middle Ages, the church tried to propagate peace between Christian nations and to support war only against rulers of other faiths. The Crusades represented the culmination of this development. During the Renaissance, however, identification with the Christian Church increasingly waned. After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the development continued even further, as European Christians increasingly identified with their origins rather than their religion. During the 15th century, a 50-year period of peace began in Italy, which was divided into small city-states. Only a war between Venice and the papacy, in which the rule of Ferrara was at stake, caused a temporary interruption of the peace. However, the period of peace was ended by the French invasion of Italy in 1494. A series of minor military disputes followed and in 1518 the conclusion of a peace treaty between the rulers involved seemed reasonable.

All European rulers were invited to sign the treaty in London. Only the Ottoman Empire was excluded from the negotiations. So was Russia, since it was not considered part of Europe at that time. The treaty was intended to unite the 20 leading states of Europe and end warfare between European countries. It was prepared in October 1518 by representatives of England and France. It was additionally ratified by other European powers and the Pope. The resulting agreement of the defensive alliance was based on the following treaty conditions:

The treaty not only obliged the countries with an active foreign policy to keep the peace among themselves, but also took from them the promise to wage war against any state that did not comply with the terms of the treaty. The conclusion of the treaty was initially seen as a great triumph for Cardinal Wolsey and helped Henry VIII to expand his power within Europe. Since then, England has been counted among the great powers.

It can be assumed that Wolsey saw the treaty as the first step towards Christian-European networking. The conclusion of the treaty can be seen as the first attempt to achieve European integration through diplomacy. In fact, however, the treaty brought peace only for a short time, because in the course of a few years war broke out between Denmark and Sweden, as well as between England, Spain and France. On the other hand, a peace movement developed during this period, participating in the Enlightenment movement of the 18th century. One of its most famous representatives was Erasmus of Rotterdam. The goal of establishing long-term peace in Europe was not achieved until the Congress of Vienna in 1815.


  1. Treaty of London (1518)
  2. Vertrag von London (1518)
  3. Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey, History at University of Wisconsin (Memento des Originals vom 15. September 2007 im Internet Archive)  Info: Der Archivlink wurde automatisch eingesetzt und noch nicht geprüft. Bitte prüfe Original- und Archivlink gemäß Anleitung und entferne dann diesen Hinweis.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/
  4. ^ a b c Morris, T.A. (1998). "Henry VIII: The Ascendancy of Wolsey". Europe and England in the Sixteenth Century. London: Routledge. pp. 159–160. doi:10.4324/9780203014639. ISBN 978-0-415-15041-5.
  5. ^ Kenneth O. Morgan (a cura di), Storia dell'Inghilterra, Bompiani, 2009, p. 221.

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