Henry VII's main policy priorities

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Control of the Nobility

Rose to throne in time of great turbulence so didn't benefit from great chain of being as his predecessors had. Nobles had the power to provoke or prevent rebellion so Henry had to assert his dominance if he want to stay unchallenged as king. His aim was to establish his will ruthlessly, with the idea that the rest of society would follow the suit of the nobility. His reign saw a marked move from feudal service, to the beginning of the service nobility.

  • Beginning of reign=few noble families (approx 60) 
  • Henry deliberately kept this number down for multiple reasons:
  • Upon the dying of a noble line, crown would benefit fromo significant financial gain (eg. Henry able to take control of land in the North which once belonged to Warwick nobility)
  • Limited Peerage meant there would be less opportunity for rivalry for the crown, & ensured that only those who proved their loyalty were granted rewards.
  • Lesser strain on the royal purse as Henry wouldn't have to reward land or finance.

When there was a need for Henry to reward the nobility, he turned to old recompenses, Order of the Garter. As a result, peerage decreased during his reign from 60 noble families in 1485 to 40 by 1509.

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Control of the Nobility (2)

  • Henry built up his closest male relatives and allies:
  • 1) Jasper Tudor=Duke of Bedford
  • 2) Earl of Northumberland, sent to North to protect King's interests. Upon being murdered, Henry made his son ruler of the North.
  • 3) Earl of Shrewsbury was also happy to use his influence to enforce Henry's will.
  • Despite being reluctant to grant financial gain for service, he used the following methods to ensure control:
  • Controlled the marriages of his nobles, fining those who married without his permission
  • He kept families of great magnates under close surveillance
  • He was always aware and made checks on families with the potential to become over mighty
  • Mostly relied on the use of law to ensure compliance. Henry did not create any new legislation here, but simply used old laws more successfully than most of his predecessors;
  • Act of Attainder
  • Bonds
  • Recognisances
  • Livery
  • Maintenance
  • Henry establised a new council, the Council Learned in Law as a result of the inc. collection of Bonds & Recognisances. But unpopular with the nobles.
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