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How far had Henry VII consolidated his hold on the throne by 1489?
Henry VII gained his position on the English throne following the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 after
defeating Richard III. Cunningly, Henry dated his reign to the day before the battle occurred, thus
protecting him from any later potential accusations of treason. Henry was not, however,
invulnerable in his early years on the throne. He faced relentless claimants and forceful
rebellions. His position was far from secure, but he did manage to keep his grasp on the crown
incredibly strong whilst pretenders and soldiers attempted to overthrow him. Nor was Henry
foolish this becomes evident in the way he confronted and punished conspirators of the threats
to the throne. To assert his dominance to the country, first Henry called a parliament to which
people came. This showed to England and France he was the accepted king. Furthermore,
Henry was crowned in Westminster this was seen as a demonstration of power to the Yorkists.
But Henry didn't attain much support from nobles at first. By 1489 Henry was still on the throne of
England, but he had faced numerous endeavours to rid him of his crown.
Henry won the throne in the Battle of Bosworth after defeating Richard III. As the usurper, his
support and acceptance from the public was always going to be dubious his throne was very
insecure. But after being crowned in Westminster and calling a successful parliament, it was
clear that the English public were in support of the usurper. Henry's nature also helped him
strengthen his position. Famously once said was "Where other kings would take blood, Henry
took money." He pardoned many of the Yorkists who fought against him at Bosworth, showing
compassionate and peaceful leadership qualities. In December 1485, an Italian wrote to the
Pope "The king shows himself very prudent and clement: all things appear disposed towards
peace." The way he dealt with minor threats presented the image of a strong king who had a
very good hold on the throne at this point.
In 1489 a Yorkshire rebellion showed support for Henry in the north of England was dwindling.
The rebellion over taxes unsurprisingly failed and Henry executed the leaders of the plot. But,
interestingly, he only pardoned the rebels, showing a much more merciful side of himself: his
son, Henry VIII, would have simply executed everybody. Unfortunately, often Henry lost the main
conspirators as they fled overseas. In 1486, Lord Lovel and the Stafford brothers rebelled against
the King. Henry quickly dispersed armed forces to dampen the rebellion, with great success.
The Stafford brothers, Humphrey and Thomas, were executed and pardoned respectively.
Importantly, this showed Henry to possess great leadership qualities and it showed foreign
powers such as Margaret of Burgundy that Henry was a strong king. This failed rebellion sent a
clear message to any other potential Yorkist rebels too. Although Henry hadn't faced the worst of
the rebellions yet, he was still facing claimants and rebels. This means that Yorkists and rebels
envisioned Henry's grip to be weak and slipping from the throne, thus giving them the motive to
attempt to overthrow him in the first place.
Despite Richard III's death and one dismal attempt, Yorkist claims to the throne still raged. The
first notable claim was the brainchild of Richard Symonds, a priest from Oxford. One of his ten
year old pupils, Lambert Simnel, beared a strong resemblance to the the Earl of Warwick. The
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Earl of Warwick (known as one of the Princes in the Tower) was the son of Edward IV, and was
placed in the Tower by Henry. The Yorkists realised they could use the advantage of the Earl's
almost hidden identity and health to their advantage, by claiming Simnel was infact the Earl of
Warwick and therefore had a viable claim to the throne.…read more