The "Old Fox"
He is a man to be marvelled at and has wonderful people about him... He is an old fox, proud as the devil and accustomed to ruling.
Correspondance Politique de MM. de Castillon et de Marillac ( 1537-42)
THE SOVEREIGN WHOSE MINISTERS were busily preparing for his death was disturbingly interested in matters of this world, not the next. Illness consumed more and more of Henry's hours, but so did France, Scotland and the promise of the new year. During the late summer of 1546 he put on a spectacular diplomatic display for the French Admiral, who arrived in England to represent Francis I at the official signing of the peace treaty. Young Prince Edward, his Latin oration firmly fixed in his mind and accompanied by eighty gentlemen resplendent in cloth of gold, was sent on his first state mission to meet the Admiral as he rode to Hampton Court. The French were fêted and feasted in two new banqueting houses adorned with tapestries wrought in gold and precious jewels, and sent home burdened with gifts of horses, dogs, silver cups and an entire sideboard of gold plate. 1 It was the least Henry could do, for in Paris his good brother had been even more generous: in a loud voice and in the presence of a multitude of bishops and at least six cardinals, that Most Christian King of France had sworn eternal friendship with a sovereign who in defiance of every papal anathema styled himself Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland. 2 Much to Henry Tudor 's satisfaction, Henrician Anglicanism had finally come of age; the King's conscience had been accepted as one of the ingredients of European diplomacy.