Henry VII

Summary of class-given revision notes :)

  • Created by: alys
  • Created on: 09-01-13 19:36

Henry VII's Kingdom

Diminishing Crown Authority

  • The crown changed hands 6 times between 1453 and 1485
  • Result of The War of the Roses (York- White, Lancaster- Red.)
  • H7s claim was weak blood claim through his mother
  • White Rose Party- relatives of Yorkists, sought to replace H7

Rural, not Urban society

  • In 1500 a small population of just 2.5m
  • Agarian (farming) society, 90% of people live in countryside. Main exports wool and cloth.


  • Mainly Catholic- central to peoples lives
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Henry VII's Kingdom (continued)

Law and Order

  • Regional leaders appointed- Justices of the Peace to ensure royal will implemented
  • Numbers increased under H7- unpaid and of limited effectiveness.
  • Ireland and Wales notoriously lawless.


  • Parliament: Two Houses
  • House of Lords: secular peers and church leaders (bishops).
  • House of Commons: leading representitives of county communities attended.
  • The King in Parliament
  • Could summon and dismiss parliament at will.
  • Sessions tended to be short.
  • Key Functions:
  • Grant taxation -> to the king
  • Ratify legislation -> pass laws
  • NOT policy making
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Henry VII- the Tudor Scrooge?

Reputation: The Perception

  • Careful and conscientious, spendthrift ruler.
  • Avoided forgein policy (eg. wars)
  • Domestic policy was focussed on swelling the crown coffers

In Practice: The Reality

  • Sent money on his court
  • Grand banquets were held
  • Processions and jousts common
  • System of bonds and recognisances to keep nobles in check- threatened financial ruin
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Henry VII's Legacy to his Son

Kept the nobility in check

  • Bonds and recognisances

Secured the dynasty

  • Married Elizabeth of York, uniting red and white rose
  • Pro Yorkists supported Lambert Simnel- posing as Earl of Warwick, better claim to the throne.
  • 1491-99 Perkin Warbeck conspiracy: pro-Yorkists proclaimed him to be Richard of York. Despite forgein support he and other conspiritors were captured and executed in 1499
  • Show fragility of tudor dynsasty

Foreign affairs and diplomacy

  • Avoided conflict- busy defending the English throne and making money for the crown
  • Foreign policy centred around diplomacy and marriage alliances
  • Essential diplomatic design persued by Henry was an Anglo-Spanish alliance. Endangered when Arthur died but solved with H8ths marriage to Catherine.
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Would H8 rule differently to H7?

Foreign Policy

  • H8 uninterested in paperwork
  • Opposed cautionary policies
  • Wareham and Fox held him back- war was costly and fruitless. Tricked Henry into peace settlement in 1510 with Louis XII of France
  • Ambitious and wanted to reassert claim to France
  • French invasion planned in 1512
  • Henry wanted to project an image of strong Renaissance kingship
  • Tutored in heroism of king Arthur and the round table. Chivalry -> Granduer and Power -> Glory


England's resources could not support sustained warfare. A more pragmatic approach would be required.

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Henry VIII and the Renaissance

Henry's age and character different to that of his father. Matched the Renaissance in Europe.

Renaissance monarchs were expected to extol Renaissance values, to be God's perfect representative on earth. Other qualities....

  • "Henry Rules": able to dictate to representative institutions (eg. Parliament)
  • Law and Order: Henry's will implemented without question. Taxes and loans immediately paid. Nobility would raise armies for him and be loyal to the Crown.
  • Good Servant of the Church: Pillar of authority. Stop heresy and any heathen advance in Europe
  • At War in Europe: Conduct continental wars
  • Splendour reflected in Royal Court: Art, architecture and dress. Patron to the arts.

Modern historians argue that Henry did no reveal a new style of modern Renaissance kingship but relied on many medieval mechanisms of monarchy.

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Tudor Government


  • Divinely appointed
  • Top of political and social hierarchy
  • Natural order of things
  • Has no equal
  • Defends the realm and the church


  • Unequal
  • You should know your place in the hierarchy
  • You are his subject and servant
  • Opposition is against God's laws and treason

Monarchy was individual and personal- no elections or parties. No interest in public opinion. Privy council there to advise the king. Parliament existed to rubber-stamp policies. Rule based on personal relationships founded on trust, loyalty and success.

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Tudor Government (continued)

  • Henry favoured chief ministers
  • Formal inner or Privy Council - political
  • Also had Privy Chamber, dealt with more personal issues
  • Had sumptuous court to match Renaissance credentials. This represented a social network around the king- drinking, dancing, singing and jousting. Also a place where politicking (making policies) would occur. Ambitious young men looking for royal favour would try to get to courst and get closer to Henry and his institutions.
  • Henry would call Parliament. Gentry and noblemen's sons were represented in the Commons. Aristocracy and Church in the Lords.

People in these different institutions would want to advise Henry but it was always Henry who initiated a policy or approved of a policy from his advisers. To persue ones own interest against the king was to lose the king's trust and show disloyalty. (PRAEMUNIRE)

All the institutions might lead to confusion but

  • The kind always made the final decision
  • Personnel between different institutions overlapped
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Henry's Dependency: The Danger of Faction

The development of faction at court undermined the coherency of policy and government at times.


When Henry came to the throne different factions (familes) would have sought to gain promotion via the king. Plenty of opportunity- Henry unhappy and his fathers conservative ministers. Wolsey killed the problem of faction between 1515 and 1528 till his enemies (Norfolk, Suffolk) helped bring him down. 1530s: back to faction- Conservatives vs Evangelicals.


Duke of Buckingham: didn't serve the king faithfully and loyally. Executed in 1521.

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