Henry VIII

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Britain, 1483-1529 Revision
The continuation of the Tudor monarchy under Henry VIII
Henry VIII Personality:
Young and ambitious Renaissance Prince ­ 17 years old.
Henry became heir to the throne after Arthur's death in 1502.
Henry VIII wasn't sent to Ludlow Castle to learn the arts of government, as was usual for
the Prince of Wales.
However Henry VIII had shadowed his father for many years and so had hands on
Henry VII had also made no real provisions for his son's marriage.
Henry VIII could speak many languages and was well educated.
The transition from Henry VII to Henry VIII was a smooth appearance as the courts broke
out into around of festivities, as Henry VIII celebrated his kingship.
Henry VIII made no negative first impressions as he celebrated and spends time throwing
Henry was a prodigy, a sun king and seems to be a rich teen having fun at the start of his
Government and Authority
The new reign was marked by the introduction of 3 changes:
o The removal of Empson and Dudley and the abolition of the Counsel Learned in
the Law.
o The marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
o The declaration of war against France.
The removal of Empson and Dudley and the abolition of the Counsel
Learned in the Law:
Henry VII was known for using threats and sanctions like bonds and recognisances through
the Counsel Learned in the Law, however Henry VIII rejected such punitive actions as
The two enforcers, Empson and Dudley were arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of
Henry executes Empson and Dudley because:
o To reconnect and get back in the Nobles favour.
o To gain popularity.
o To show he's not like his father.
o Can't criticise his own father so he uses Empson and Dudley.
o Doesn't need the money at this point or them on a practical level.
Tension between the King and his political nation was further defused during the first
parliament with the abolition of the Counsel Learned in the Law.

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The king also set up Oyer and Terminer across the country to hear grievances against
the late King's agents.
These commissions' uncovered only petty complaints and little evidence of any sustained
oppression; nevertheless Empson and Dudley were executed to satisfy public demand for
revenge and the King's need for a fresh start.…read more

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Henry VIII hated paper work and so the privy chamber were most favourably placed to
sense when the king was in the mood to sign paper ­ close relationship.
The rise of Thomas Wolsey:
Thomas Wolsey was an academic and churchman who rose through the ranks of noble
and royal service to achieve royal chaplain.
Swopped to pro war fraction as he was ambitious and his administrative skills were
required to manage the organisation of the naval and military supplies.…read more

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Domestic Policies
Administrative Efficiency:
There was no major reform of government administration under Wolsey.
Henry VIII kept most of his fathers experienced officials to ensure continuity in
In 1526, the king demanded reform of the royal household after he concluded that he had
been denied access to counsellors through Wolsey's executive control over appointments
to the counsel.
Wolsey turned to his own political advantage in the Eltham Ordinances for the Regulation
of the court.…read more

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Wolsey changed Common Law ­ which was a system of justice that had prevailed since
the Norman conquest of 1066 and was based on court decisions, customs and usages rather
than on codified written law therefore cases could be decided on a technicality ­ to a
second system to the system of Civil Law which was based on Roman Law and an
emphasis on natural Justice.…read more

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Sir Amyas Paulet, who had ­ during Wolsey's church years ­ taught Wolsey a lesson about
humiliation and grace by putting Wolsey in the stocks. When Wolsey became Chancellor he made
sure that Paulet was revenged and Wolsey did this by summoning Paulet to appear before him but
Wolsey kept him waiting in attendance daily as a public reminder and threat, as to what could
happen to those who offended.…read more

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Financial Management
Tax Reform:
Wolsey's most significant and lasting achievements were in tax reform.
The old system of Fifteenths and tenths was inefficient as it raised insufficient income.
Wolsey aimed to replace these taxes with a directly assessed subsidy. He was assisted
by John Hales, a judge in the Court of Exchequer form 1522.
Together Wolsey and Hales moved towards a system whereby taxpayers were assessed
individually by their ability to pay taxes.…read more

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The resistance to the Amicable Grant was the most serious breakdown in Law and
order in England whilst Wolsey was the King's chief minister.
Many historians see the Amicable Grant and its outcomes as the start of the end for Wolsey.
Economic Issues:
Tudor England suffered from serious economic problems that caused social tension.
There was poverty, food shortages, high prices, unemployment, crime and depopulation.…read more

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Relations with Parliament and the Nobles
Wolsey never had a monopoly of power over parliament and the nobility because
essentially his pre-eminence could only last as long as Herny supported him.
Henry made Wolsey and he also had the power to break him.
Many historians have criticised Wolsey's attitude towards parliament.
He is accused of deliberately monopolising power and attempting to get rid of
parliament altogether.…read more

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On the other hand there is no clear evidence that Wolsey was completely hostile to the
The Earl of Worcester considered the Chancellor to be a good friend and Wolsey tended
to use a carrot and stick policy in many ways, by holding out desirable appointments for
the nobles he hoped to get on him side.…read more


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