The Nobility under Henry VIII

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  • The Nobility During the reign of Henry VII
    • Size of the Nobility
      • War of the roses had vastly depleted to size of the Nobility, due to death in battle, and attainment of the lands of the losers.
      • There were 50 at the start of Henry's reign.
        • This number actually reduced by the end of Henry's reign to just 35.
          • Henry tended to take away titles rather than giving them out, in order to reduce the power of the nobility in order to keep power in his hands.
    • Problems of the nobility
      • Nobles hold land and wealth allowing them to rival the crown
      • ******* Feudalism
        • Nobles retain large private armies of Knights by demand loyalty to them for cash  rewards rather than land (which is given to them, and thus controlled, by the king).
    • Benefits of nobility
      • Nobles helped to keep law and order over their estates
        • They are crucial to Henry's rule.
      • Many heads of houses had been killed in the war, so many heads of noble houses were now children.
        • These children were wards of the king until they turned 21, allowing Henry to controlled the families lands, and extract as much income from them as possible.
    • How Henry controls them:
      • Rewards
        • Patronage
          • Henry would award land and titles to the gentry, not nobles.
            • Gentry were more reliable and loyal than the nobles, as they depended on Henry for their position ( as they could not retain).
        • Kings/great council
          • Membership on the council was a sign of the kings trust, and a great honour.
            • Also a clever way to ensure support for Henry's policies
              • If a council member supported a policy in a council meeting, they couldn't criticise it in public life ( as that would be hypocritical/dishonourable).
        • Order of the garter
          • Significant honour reserved for the closest friends of the king. It was the ultimate mark of the kings respect.
            • The honour gave prestige, but no land or money. This allowed Henry to ensure loyalty with giving away any power to the nobles.
        • Its is important to note that Henry would never give away land or money to the nobility, for he wanted to keep as much power and wealth in the hands of the monarch as possible.
      • Punishments
        • Retaining
          • Nobles keeping massive personal staffs (legal classed as servants) as private armies.
          • Henry wanted the practice ended for both legal reasons and to prevent nobles becoming 'over mighty subjects'.
          • Nobles were fined vast sums for illegal retaining.
            • Henry made no exceptions- even his own mother was punished for retaining.
        • Crown Lands
          • Lands held by the crown in the past, and recently held by yorkists, were returned to the king.
          • the 1486 act of resumption returned all lands to the crown lost scince 1455.
          • Crown lands increased by 5 times during Henry's reign.
          • Land was power, and Henry wanted as much as possible.
        • Feudal Dues
          • taxes that had to be payed to the king and powers the king had over certain aspects of noble's lives.
          • Relief- A form of inheritance tax
          • Livery- Restricted number of servants a Noble could have.
            • Dealt with illegal retaining.
          • Wardship- Lands of underage nobles held by king until 21st birthday.
          • Marriage- Nobles had to have Kings permission to marry.
            • Prevent overly advantageous marriages.
        • Acts of attainder
          • If a Noble Family was attained, they would lose all of their land, and the right to inherit that land.
            • The land was taken by the King.
          • Acts could be reversed if loyalty shown.
          • Henry passed 138 acts of attainder during his reign.
        • Bonds and recognisances
          • Debts to the king
          • were often incredibly high sums that would ruin a noble.
          • Used as a threat in response to disobedience.
      • "carrot and stick method" - rewards and punishments.

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