Henry VII's structure of government

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  • Only summoned 7 times during 24 year reign; 5 of these within first decade.
  • No parliament lasted longer than 3 months.
  • Henry used it as an institution to support his policies in law and order. (used parl. to show there was only 1 ruler in England; him.)

Reasons why it wasn't called often:

  • Didn't need war taxes regularly, he persued a policy of avoiding expensive campaigns abroad.
  • Didn't want to strain his subjects by making too many money demands
  • Didn't feel the need to legislate on a large scale: govt. bills usually dealt with acts of attainder
  • Normal function was being fulfilled by other royal courts

When he did call Parliament, Henry encouraged 'SOCIAL ENGINEERING'. He laid down rules on wages and working hours, instructed vagabonds to be put in stocks & returned to original place of residence instead of imprisonment. & forbade corporations making any regulations unless approved by him.

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The King's Council

King's closest advisors, without whom he could not hope to rule effectively. It was a small, elite group who met regularly (inc. many Henry spent time in exile with & trusted greatly) 40 members who provided stability lacking in previous English govts, as its members were kept in power for a substantial length of time.

Key members:

  • Chief officers of state: Lord chancellor=John Morton, Lord Privy Seal=Richard Fox, Lord Treasurer=Lord Dynham.
  • Minor office holders: Sir Reginald Bray, Lord Daubeny, Sir Thomas Lovell, Sir John Riseley.
  • Elite who rose to fame later: Sir Richard Empson, Sir Edward Belknap, Sir Edward Poynings, Edmund Dudley.
  • These men were also included as part of the great council to advise on matters such as tax, war & rebellion.
  • As his workload became more cumbersome, Henry created the Lord President of the Council (oversee council in King's absence)
  • Offshoot committees=Court of Requests (1495, designed to deal with legal cases), 1497 committee to deal with livery & maintenance. (Earliest version of Court of Star Chamber) Many of the committees were not designed to be permanent.
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The Council Learned in Law & Local Government

  • Small, pro-body that came into being in 1495 with the intention to defend the King's rights as feudal landlord.
  • HATED BY MANY for its association with bonds & recognisances. Almost officially the royal debt collection service.
  • Headed by Sir Richard Empson & Edmund Dudley (deputy)
  • Dudley's promotion to the council learned (1504) saw a new level of ruthlessness as bonds & recognisances were used as a way to threaten nobility
  • By 1509 Council Learned had become the most important & efficient of all Henry's institutions of government.

Local Gov.:

  • Main aims: to ensure law & order throughout land. Usually achieved through use of nobility but conscience of creating 'overmighty' subjects
  • JP's were the key to success. (Justices of Peace) (18 per country) not paid but in own interest as well as Henry's, to maintain law & order
  • Widened duties inc: arrest, question, grant bail & replace corrupt jury members.
  • Aim was to make JP's more accountable to him, hope they would reinforce his position as king=most fulfilled role.
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