The Tudor Council

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  • The Tudor Council
    • The Role of the Council
      • The Council was more of a formal body that had existed since medieval time to advise the monarch.
        • The monarch chose who was on the Council and did not have to take the advice, though it was often in the monarch's best interests to at least listen to the views of their Council.
        • The Council also helped the monarch with day-to-day running of the country and could act as a judicial court.
      • The Council could also be divided by faction, especially in the 1540s and 1550s when the Crown was in the hands of either the ageing Henry VIII or his young son Edward VI.
        • The political significance of the Council depended on the style of rule adopted by the monarch.
          • However, the role of the Council changed during the Tudor period, becoming increasingly formal and 'professional'.
    • The Role of the Council under Henry VIII
      • Until the 1530s the Council was still a large institution of around 40 members, most of whom would not attend on a regular basis.
        • 1526- Wolsey was planning the Eltham Ordinances to reduce this to 20 men who would meet daily.
          • This plan initially came to nothing. By 1537, a Council mirroring the one he had suggested had emerged.
            • This became known as the Privy Council.
              • Under Elizabeth's reign the Privy Council was responsible for much of the daily running of the country, especially administration and legal matters.
        • The newly emerged Privy Council had come about without Cromwell's planning in 1537.
          • Initially, it appeared as an unplanned response to the political crisis of 1536 when Henry VIII was faced with serious rebellion and needed a small council of trusted men to give rapid and clear advice.
    • The Role of the Council, 1547-88
      • Under the reign of Edward VI, the Council became less politically important.
        • Government and politics were dominated by the King's protectors who used control of the Privy Chamber to achieve this.
      • Mary's Council followed the trend seen during Henry's reign.
        • However, she had 50 named councillors, only 19 were 'working councillors' who were meeting 3 or 4 times a week.
          • Mary's councillors were particularly involved in advising her over her marriage and the return to Catholicism, although they did not always agree on these issues.
      • Under the reign of Elizabeth, the role of the Privy Council reached its peak.
        • Its membership was honed down to about 12 key individuals and by the 1590s these men were meeting nearly every day, sometimes both in the morning and afternoon.
          • By this period, the Council had become an essential part of government, which handled much of the day-to-day business of the realm.
            • This did not mean that the monarch was sidelined, because they appointed the councillors and could dismiss them at will.


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