Describe and explain the key features of Henry VII's government

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Describe and explain the key features of Henry VII's government.
Henry VII was renowned as a "systematiser, not an innovator"; he took what other
kings had set up and tweaked their systems to make it work for him. Examples
include the Court of Requests: set up by Richard III to help with legal fees for poorer
people and half way through his reign, Henry reopened this court. His philosophy
surrounding crown funds linked well with the way he dealt with crime. Also his King's
Council provided somewhere for him to have his say but not become a dictator: it
was king in council, as apposed to king and council. And the Magnum Concilium was a
specific council created by the Normans but once again `systematised' by Henry.
Throughout his reign, Henry's government created history whilst at the same time
utilised the past.
King Henry VII famously said "I wish to live of my own" when it came to finances. He
wasn't a money grabber, but at the same time wasn't going to live with empty
pockets. From the main council he created several smaller councils. The Court of
Requests dealt with legal fees for poor people, and the Court of General Surveyors
dealt with obtaining the money from crown land. Possibly the biggest court was the
Council Learned in the Law, dealing with all revenue to the king. It consisted of mainly
lawyers and tackled with everything from wardships and inheritance laws to feudal
dues and bonds and recognisances. Unsurprisingly this court was hated, and didn't
even have a jury for fear of bribery. Empson and Dudley made their names
transparent amongst the nobility by being two of the main debt collectors. Henry
was parsimonious from a young age, growing up in poverty and seeing other kings
bathed in wealth. He was also aware money equaled defence should war arise.
Ordinary revenue came from places such as crown lands, where escheats were put in
place and passed the Act of Resumption. This soon became the model for other
financial courts. Custom duties provided a third of ordinary revenue but smuggling
still continued. Duties became levied on wool, cloth, leather and wine. Following this,
feudal dues shot from £350 to £6,000 in just 20 years. They were collected from
those who held land in return for not doing military service. Profits of Justice
provided interesting funds: court fees were regular but insignificant whereas
punishment fees were irregular but often huge. Extraordinary revenue involved things
such as taxation, although this didn't have a large impact and most of the tax
collectors turned corrupt. However, this still gave the king money. Forced loans of
around £10,000 were inflicted on the rich and poor. Money from the church, known
as clerical taxes, helped to fund things such as war: in 1489 £29,000 was given to aid
the French war, known as convocation. These key features helped Henry keep a solid
bank account, available for any type of war. But tax and debt collectors became
feared, financial courts got a terrible reputation and the questions of consolidating
security was often passed around, along with Henry's supposed rapacious techniques
of collecting whatever he wanted.
Henry's government was very much a personal government. His Royal Council
consisted of 200 plus members and around 50% were clerics. Closer to his chest he
had the Privy Council, and elite inner circle comprising of people such as Jasper Tudor
and Lord Stanley. The Council was there to give advice, implement royal policy, deal
with matters concerning the King himself and reach a decision if Common Law

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It was the highest court in the land. Henry attended as many
meetings as he could and was completely aware of what was going on. Beneath the
King were people such as the Lord Chancellor John Morton, the Lord Privy Seal
Bishop Richard Foxe and the Lord Treasurer Earl of Surrey. The mastermind
economist in charge of finance was Sir Reginald Bray. Belonging to the Royal Council
was seen as powerful and a huge honour.…read more


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