History - Politics, Government and The crown 1483-1543

  • Created by: EveKidney
  • Created on: 03-01-15 13:00

Why was Richard able to seize the throne?

Richard - youngest of three brothers which should if meant furthest away from crown.

However - well trusted by his brother Edward and was granted Duke of York.

Edward considered him to be very loyal - thrust him into politics admist a national crisis in 1469 - Earl of warrick betrayed Edward by supporting a Lancastrain plot to overthrow him - At the age of just 17 - Richard called to physically fight in order to restore Edward to the crown.

Richard was also a large part in murder of Henry VI (1471) and in the execution of his elder sibling - George Duke of Clarence who had become overmighty and accused of high treason (1478)

Edward rewarded Richard handsomely: Estates in north (later head of coucil of the north),

January 1483 granted a great palatine, 

Later the capactiy to conquer and annex power from Scotland to his palatine was also added,

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Why was Richard able to seize the throne? x2

Richard was effectively elevated to a status of what some would suggest was an 'overmighty subject' though not considered dangerous by the king. 

Richard was trusted by king so resentment grew at court from the queen and family (woodvilles)-fearful and jealous of his power. 

Richard may have also distrusted them - the queen used her infulence over the king to elevate her family,

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The death of Edward IV and the capture of Edward V

Edward unexpectedly died on - 9th April 1483

Edward V being only 12, was still in the position of being crowned the king of England but need the support of a protectorate. This craeted a power stuggle between Elizabeth and Richard. At this time Edward V living in Ludlow under care of Earl Rivers. 

The woodvilles increasingly unpopular at court - significant nobles began to turn away from them. They wanted Richard to take the place of his brother. 

William, Lord Hastings was the first to turn, urging Richard to return to court to support opposing a woodville plot to seize the crown.

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The usurpation and overthrow of Edward V

May 1483 - Richards claim strong, wrote to queen ensuring he would take care of his nephew,

This was believed by Queen & Earl rivers, Richard met rivers and edward at northhampton. (By this time richard was supported by major nobles) 

Many of Edwards household arrested (Rivers, Vaughan and Sir Richard Grey, Earl of northumberland)

In response - Queen tried to raise army (led by son Thomas Grey Marquis of Dorset) - Unsuccessful due to unpopularity. So queen along with daughters and remaining son - forced into santuary. 

4th May - Richard enters London unopposed- Placed Edward in tower of London (protection)

Richard then appealed to the King's Council, who confirmed Richard as Edwards official protector,

For their support - Lord Howard,Lovell etc were promoted,

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The usurpation and overthrow of Edward V x2

Uneasy with the usurpation of young king, Hastings reduces support for Richard, (Richard forced to request millitary assistance from the North) 

13th June: Hastings arrested - Treason - Executed

16th June: Archbishop of Canterbury (pressured by richard to persuade the queen to release remaining son)

20th June: Thomas Rotherham & John morton removed from King's council. 

22nd June: The day richard had intened for Edward to be crowned, instead sermons were preached in St Paul's Cathedral of the Illegitimacy of Edward IV, and therfore that of his son. 

26th June: Petition presented to parliment for Richard to take crown. 6th July: Richard crowned king of England.

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Initial challenges to Richard III Throne

Initial Challenges

Duke Of Buckingham - becoming over mighty, Ambitious.

North Vs South - Resetment from south, suggested reason behind rebellion in Kent

Agressive - Considered 'over agressive' rise to throne - divided nobility 

Buckinghams Rebeliion - Dissatified in position in comparision with Northern nobility, Supported by Henry Tudor,   Oct - Nov 1483. 

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Initial challenges to Richard III Throne x2

Role of Nobility in Richard's kingship 

Richard relied heavily on nobility to back his mover for throne. Majority of support - North. 

Key support - Lord Howard, Earl of Northumberland, Thomas Stanley, 

But overall central hub of support - Sir William Catesby and Sir Richard Radcliffe - this was very unpopular in south.

In order to conteract this, Richard offered generous patronage to those who would openly back him (inc: Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers)

The sudden deaths of his son, Edward and wife - Anne Neville also added to his unpopularity. 

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How able was Richard as king?

Richard inherited the throne - Personal monachy - country eihter prosper or fail based on leadership. 

Proved to be capable and energetic ruler, determined to stanp authority on England. Concerns: Outlaw corruption, Restore peace, Reform legal system, Move around country - people knew him.

In order to achieve aims - Richard was prepared to retain, reward and innovate - 24 out of Edwards IV's 54 councillors were retained for Richard's Council,

From July 1484, Richard transformed his household into the formal council of the north - granting it full powers to rule in his absence. 

Founded a new body - Council of requests and supplications - deal with the plghts of poor people in search of justice.

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How able was Richard as king? x2

Tried to pursue a policy of financhial stabillity by looking at 3 key areas - retrenchment (cutting down on spending), Re-endowment (re-investment/finding other ways to raise loyal revenue) and Advocating - a policy of strict punishment alongside reward and responsibillity to deal with 'overmighty' subjects. This enabled Richard III to award grants of almost £12,000 (£6 million) a year for loyal services. He is known for having brought a degree of stabillity and efficiency to the collection of Royal Revenue. 

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Nobility and Parliament

Richard III understood that it was essential to follow a policy of stability in government - needed backing of nobility. To ensure nobility's support - richard undertook financial strain by offering financial rewards, grants of land or important offices.

He relied heavily on certain nobles to advise him in his councils & keep stability in the provinces. (E.G - Duke of norfolk) 

He punished those who challenged him also showed strength (execution of Buckingham served a warning)

Oftern suggested that although the majority of Richard's support came from the North, a measure of his success is that no english peers declared for Henry Tudor until Battle of Bosworth.

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Henry Tudor's Claim To The Throne

Henry had claims to the throne through parents, The strongest claim coming from his mothers line, Margaret Beaufort. 

Claim - weak, but slightly increased owing to his relationship with uncle, Jasper Tudor - Earl Of Pembroke.

Edward IV confiscated the estates of both Jasper and Henry, anf forced them to live in exile from 1471 - spent the majority of this time in Brittany. 

Henry had the support of some in England- a marriage agreement had been made between the Woodville's and Margaret Beaufort that Elizabeth would marry Henry - strengthening his claim to the throne and hoping to gain greater support in England. 

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Henry's Invasion and march to Bosworth

Knowing that Tudor - refuge in France - Richard III struck a deal with Duke of Brittany - Richard would supply English archers in exchange for Henry Tudor. Tudor's flee'd to france.

Enraged by Richard III's hostile plan, King Charles VIII of France welcomed the Tudor's and granted them financial and military support against Richard. 

1st August 1485 - Tudor sets sail from Harfleur (France) with between 400-500 English and Welsh loyalists and approx 1500 French troops. 

The men purposely set sail for the coast of Wales, aiming to gather some support under the Tudor standard. 

7th August - Landed at Mill Bay, Dale on 7th August 1485. From there onwards they marched north, heading through Haverfordwest and then along the Cardigan Coast Line. 

12th August - Tudor acquired the support of key welsh nobles, William ap Gruffudd providing 500 men, and Rhys ap Thomas providing 800 men. By the time Tudor had reached Shrewsbury (15th Aug), his army had swollen to almost 5000 men.

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Henry's Invasion and march to Bosworth x2

Although not officially confirmed - stanley brothers had also secretly pledged their support for tudor (as richard had kidnapped Thomas Stanley's son) However, notorious for changing allegiances. Meant their vast armies (approx 3000) could not necessariy be counted on.

Also, Tudor gathered support from Gilbert Talbot bringing another 500 men.

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The Battle Of Bosworth & Death Of Richard III

During Tudor's invasion of Welsh coastline - Richard III settled in Nottingham Castle - Vast army of 10,000 men.

He had hoped his supporters - Rhys ap Thomas in the south, and the Stanleys in the North would defeat Henry before he posed any real threat. 

With vital days lost - Richard mobilised his troops to Leicester,

22nd August 1485 - The two armies met in Bosworth, Leicester.

The battle lasted 3 hours - high casualties on both sides,

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The battle Of Bosworth & Death Of Richard III x2

Turning Point - Richard decided to make a strike at Henry, breaking away from army with only 100 men - but killed Tudor's flag bearer instead.

Sir William Stanley took decisive action against Richard - sending a cavalry of some 500 men to support Tudor. Richard was overwhelmed and killed. Duke of Norfolk was killed, and Earl of Northumberland fled before a Lancastrian victory was called. 

The crown was placed on Tudor's head by Lord Stanley - marking him as the new king of England. 

Richard III's naked body was tied to a mule and taken to Leicester to be buried. 

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Establishment Of The Tudor Dynasty

Henry VII's claim to throne - tenuous and only secured through victory at Bosworth. Direct aim as a monarch was to remain king and create unchallengeable line of succession. 

First acts Henry undertook - Ensure no challeneges from the previous dynasty. He had parliament backdate his reign to the day before the battle - Meant Richard was the rebel, and those who had supported Richard could be tried under the act of Attainder.

30th October 1485 - Henry crowned king of England - intentionally chosen as date - week before parliament met (7th Nov 1485) - This denied any nobles to suggest that parliament had a hand in making him king. 

Next - Appealed to Pope - Papal Dispensation to marry Elizabeth of York - had to be done - officially cousins. Also allowed Henry to bring together the York's and Lancastrians, but is also appeared as though the Pope was giving support to the idea that Henry was the rightful king of England - Therfore Chosen By God. 

18th Jan 1486 - Henry married Elizabeth of York. - Allowed families to be aligned, and the timing showed that his selection as king did not solely depend on his wife. 

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Establishment Of The Tudor Dynasty x2

A policy of Reward was also persued - To show thanks to those who had helped him become King. e.g - Jasper Tudor was made the Duke Of Bedford. John morton, Reginald Bray and Richard Fox - also granted high offices. 

Henry was also open to the idea - allowing ex-yorkists to be part of his court - so long as they proved their loyalty to the new king. Thomas Howard arrested - released when Henry was sure of loyalty. Henry Percy imprisoned - He was returned to former position in exchange for his support to Henry. 

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Eradicating potential family rivals

In order to secure throne - Henry VII had to ensure any other potential family rivals were removed. 

Edward, Earl Of Warrick (Richard's Nephew) was kept in the tower of London for the remainder of his life. 

Edward IV's nephews from his sister Elizabeth also imprisoned,executes or exiled.

William de la pole = imprisoned in tower of London,

Edmud de la pole = Arrested 1506 and executed 1513,

Richard de la pole = Exiled for life,

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Initial threats to Henry's reign

Henry was a largely unknown nobleman (exile prior to 1485), with not much knowledge of England, many thought he would'nt be king for long. One of his major concerns - keeping both the nobles and commoners contented, whilst simultaneously dealing with continuing political and economic instability. 

The Minor Risings 1485-6

April 1486 - Lovel and Stafford rising - minor incident showed Henry as a gracious victor. 

Lord Francis & the Stafford brothers led a group of minor nobility in a rising against Henry VII during his royal progress of the North. 

Prior to this the men had been living in sanctuary in Colchester (having escaped in shame from the Battle of Bosworth) Where the king was unable to arrest them. 

The rebels broke sanctuary, Lovel heading north to ambush the king, and the Stafford's to the west to try and gain support for their plight. 

Henry headed off rebels - armed force - offering surrender where they would receive a pardon - Lovel escaped and fled to Flanders, Stafford's tried to return to sanctuary but arrested. Both - tower of London - Humphrey executed and Thomas pardoned. 

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Initial threats to Henry's reign x2

Vaughan Rising 1486 

Conducted by Welsh Yorkists - Planned and led by Sir Thomas Vaughan of Tretower - Idea - seize Brecon Castle and then execute Henry. Henry's alliance with Rhys ap Thomas assured this got no further than a plan, and his rising was crushed. 

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Rebellions In Yorkshire And Cornwall

Yorkshire - 1489

Caused - result of increasedtax demands made by king - so that he might pursue support of Brittany.

Especially rejected in the economically poor and typically pro-yorkist country of Yorkshire - made worse by the fact that it was still recovering from the impact of poor harvests.

Resentment also grew - many other northen countries (Northampton, Cumberland, Westmorland and Durham) were not expected to pay these taxes, as they were instead expected to pay to protect and defend England against Scotland. Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland tried to negotiate a similar deal for Yorkshire, but this was dismissed by the King. 

Earl Of Northumberland murdered in York,

Rising supported and led by Sir John Egremont, taking advantage of the unpopularity of Northumberland.

Earl of Surrey sent  to deal with Egremont. Rebels were defeated, but Egremont fled to Flanders.

King goes north to offer pardons, but fails to collect further pardons. 

Nes Earl of Northumberland is minor, so Earl of Surrey is appointed to assist him. With no personal interest in the North, Surrey was a loyal servant to the king, enforcing Henry's new policies.

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Cornwall Rebellion -1497

This rebellion was again caused by financial strain caused by the king - Henry need to finance an armed force - defend attack from scotland. 

Many in Cornwall refused to pay tax in defence against north- felt would not be under direct threat.

May 1497 - Rebels left Bodmin - London, significant leader - Lord Audley (minor noble).

16th June 1497 - Rebels had grown to a force of 15,000 and reached outskirts of capital - set up camp on Blackheath. Force confronted by army led by - Earl of oxford, Rhys ab thomas and Lord Daubeney - around 500-800 rebels killed in the battle.

Cornish rising - alarming for king - Did not respond until almost too late. 

As Henry was pre-occupied with ideas of northen invasion, it demonstarted that England was completely unprepared for any military action against Scotland. Direct result - Henry opted for a route of diplomacy.

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Cornwall Rebellion -1497 x2

Rebellions Impact?

Opposition - issues he had created - taxation.

England not prepared to finance a war in the name of expanding or defending the Tudor Line.

Henry established - leadership - methods of diplomacy rather than a policy of war - Finacially & miiltary - positive decision.

A policy of military action was only persued as a last resort.

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The Pretenders: Lambert Simnel & Perkin Warbeck

Lambert Simnel 1486-87

Winter 1486: Rumours of the fate of Edward Earl Of Warrick ciculated - he had died uner the conditions of his imprisonment in the tower of london.

Over ambitious priest - Richard Symonds used opportunity to claim that one of his pupils - Lambert Simnel had a resembelence to Edward IV's children 

Symonds used position in clergy to convince coomon people that Simnel was Richard, youngest son of Edward IV. However, when suggestion was met with limited success - Symonds then claimed that Simmel was Warwick. 

Idea only gained limited momentum - mostly due to suuport of Yorkist noble - John de la pole.

Further support - Symonds took simnel to Ireland.

Although limited support is given to the idea that they believed Simnel was of the yorkist line, Key Irish nobility appeared to act pragmatically - seizing an opportunity to disgruntle the king - They had simnel declared king - in Dublin.

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The Pretenders: Lambert Simnel & Perkin Warbeck x2

Margaret Of Burgundy - Also gave support sending money and a force of 2000 german mercenaries to to Ireland. This encouraged bravery in the Irish - officially crowned Simnel as king - May 1487 

Henry VII - did not react to conspiracy until January 1487 - then put Elizabeth Woodville and Marquis Of Dorset under house arrest. Henry VII had minor nobles arrested and The real Warick shown around - Dispel the myth.

Lincoln then fled - margaret of burgundy - Lincoln,Lovell & German military man Schwartz landed in Ireland. Where Lincoln became the leader - Planned to put forward own claim to throne. 

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The battle of Stoke

4th June 1487 - Lincoln lands in Lancashire with multinational army - marched across the pennines turning south - trying to gain support - but people were not encouraged at thought of joining an Irish rebel army. 

King Henry VII fully prepared - defeated the rebels - Leaders all killed and Symonds was sentenced to life imprisonment in a Bishops prison. Simmel was shown mercy - allowing him to work as a turnspit in royal kitchen. Later promoter to royal falconer. 

To ensure a deterrent - Henry used his second parliament to pass 28 acts of attainder against those who had been involved in the plot. 

25th Nov 1487 - Henry had his wife, Elizabeth officially crowned queen of England - purpose - provide a 'feel-good' factor to the people - opportunity for public celebration. Also unite the nation by securring the goodwill of the people.

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Perkin Warbeck 1491-99

November 1491: 17 year old warbeck arrived in Cork - masters silk ship. He wore fine silk people assumed he was the Earl Of Warrick. 

Plot gained credibility - no-one knew what the former king's (Edward IV) children looked like - or what actually happened to them allowing the possibility that one of them could have escaped the tower. 

March 1492 - Charles VIII offers support to Warbeck in his quest for English throne. Charles support gave air of authority and publicity - 100 english yorkists had joined Warbeck. 

Novermber 1492 - Support for Warbeck cut short - Treaty Of Etaples signed - treaty was the agreement of Charles VIII not to support enemies of Henry VII. Warbeck fled to Flanders. 

1493 - Margaret Of Burgundy recognised Warbeck as her nephew, Henry VII temporarily broke Trade with Flanders. - Jeopradising his own econonmy. Margaret encouraged Holy Roman Emperor to join conspiracy - he also recognised Warbeck as richard. 

July 1495 - Warbeck led attack - landing at Deal, Kent- failed as unable to secure local support.

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Perkin Warbeck 1491-99 x2

He then moved to scotland-welcomed by James IV. James gave Warbeck his cousin - Lady catherine gordon to marry. Also an annual pension of £1200, and physical support should an opportunity to attack arise. 

Upon attack of Northern border - lacked support, James IV betrayed Warbeck-peace treaty with England. (Treaty of Ayton 1497)

Warbeck-forced out of Scotland-fled to ireland-No support, Heard of Cornish rebellion went to Devon-failed-was able to harness support from some west countrymen. Marched-Exetor- confronted with royal army at Taunton

November 1499 - Warick killed (apparently trying to escape) 2 weeks later - Warbeck-treason-beheaded.

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Henry VII's main policy priorities

Control of the nobility

Aim - establish his will ruthlessly-with the idea that rest of society would follow suit of the nobility-His reign saw a marked move from feudal service, to the beginning of the service nobility. 

At beginning of reign few noble families (approx 60), Henry deliberately kept this number down-multiple reasons:

  • Upon dying of noble line - crown stood to benefit from significant financial gain,
  • Less opportunity for rivalry for the crown,
  • Lesser strain on the royal purse - Henry would not have to award crown lands or finances,

When need to award nobility to gain loyalty-Order of the Garter (knighthood) - Allowed the king to grant prestige without having to strain him financially. Noble families decreased in Henry's reign - 60-40. 

Henry built up his closest male relatives:

  1. Jasper Tudor = Duke of Bedford,
  2. Earl of Nothumberland, upon his being murdered - Henry officially made his son,Arthur-ruler of the North.
  3. Earl of Shrewsbury was also happy to use infulence to enforce Henry's will. 

He used the following methods to ensure control:

  • Controlled marriages od nobles, fined those who married without his permission,
  • Kept families of great magnates e.g The percy's & The Howard's under close surveillance,
  • Maintained checks on those capable of becoming over mighty,
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Henry VII's main policy priorities x2

Henry mostly relied on the use of the law to ensure the compliance of his nobles:

  1. Acts Of Attainder: ***** someone of their lands and wealth without trial, 
  2. Bonds: Written document, binding one person to another-instructing they do some action & pay if broken.
  3. Recognisnaces: A formal acknowldgement of a debt or obligation, enforced by a strict financial penalty.
  4. Livery: Forcing someone to wear the badge of their master - sign that they were in service.
  5. Maintenance: The practise of bringing unlawful pressure to bear in court cases. 

As a result of increased collection of bonds and recognisances - Henry established 'The council learned in Law' to specifically oversee them. Headed by Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley - Notorioulsy unpopular with nobles

Henry cleverly used the laws on Livery and Maintenance to control and restrict retainers. He used his 1487 Parliament to restrict unlawful retaining, and increased control further with his 1504 Parliament. Insisting upon a licensing system, where a list of a Lord's followers had to be submitted for the king's approval. 

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The Structure of Henry's VII's Government


Only summoned 7 times during the 24 year reign of Henry VII - 5 within first decade. Henry used it as an institutuion to support his policies. Henry used parliament to demonstrate that there was only one ruler in England - him. 

Parliament was not called oftern - He did not need war taxes regulary, as he persued a policy of avoiding expensive campaigns abroad. Also he did not want to strain subjects with demands for money. He did not feel the need to legislate on a large scale and its normal judical function was being fulfilled by other royal courts.

When he did call parliament, he laid down rules on wages and working hours, Instructed vagabonds be put in stocks stocks and returned to their original place of residence rather than imprison them. He also forbade corporations making any regulations, unless approved by the king. 

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The structure of Henry's VII's Government x2

The council Learned in Law

Was a small, professional body which came into being in 1495 - intention to defend king's right as feudal landlord. Hated by many-Bonds and Recognisances - almost officiaally the royal debt collection service. Headed by Sir Richard Empson and his deputy Edmund Dudley. Dudley's promotion to the council learned (1504) saw a new level of ruthlessness, in which bonds and recognisances were used as a way to threaten the nobility. By 1509 The Council Learned had become the most important and efficient of all Henry's Institutions of Government.

Local Government 

One of Henry's main aims - ensure law and order throughout the land-This would ordinarily be achieved through the use of nobility and gentry-but Henry was conscious of creating 'over mighty subjects' - JP's were the key to his success. Average - 18 JP's per county - apointed annually from among the local land owners - not paid but in own intrests. Appointed large and lesser landowners which would serve to weaken power of large landowners. 

Duties included - arrest and question poachers or hunters in disguise (could be rebellion), grant bail to those awaiting trial, ability to replace jusy members suspected of being corrupt. Aim=make JP's more accountable to him. 

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The structure of Henry's VII's Government 1.5

The King's Council 

King's closest advisors, without whom he could not rule effectively, small elite group who met regulary. Made up of 40 members and provided the stability lacked by previous English governments. Cheif Officers of state:

  • Lord chancellor=John Morton,
  • Lord Privy Seal=Richard Fox, 
  • Lord Treasurer=Lord Dynham

These men were also included as part of the great council, As his work load became more cumbersome, Henry created the Lord President of the council, which meant he could oversee council in king's absence.

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The structure of Henry's VII's Government x3

The Church

Henry's relationship with church - mainly positive, Archbishop Morton mainly to thank for this - He had visited Rome prior to Bosworth in order to secure Papal Support. - Papal agreement for the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth of York. 

Henry's policies towards church - secure throne:

  • 1486: Privilege of sanctuary attacked (Stafford brothers, Warbeck). Deemed only the king could grant sanctuary to those who had commited treason.
  • Appointed more Bishop lawyers, than Bishop-theologians as he required them to serve church and state. 

Henry's legal advisors promoted attacks on the church's courts. Henry did not want the authority of the Pope to be more significant than the power of his authority in his own country. Result - Penalty for Praemunire (Putting authorty of foreign power before the King's) was life in prison and confiscation of property to the crown. 

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The structure of Henry's VII's Government x3.5

Council Of The North 

This council differed from central government committees - Henry aimed for it to be used to maintain control in the northern regions. Henry implemented:

  • Members from Kings council to supervise activities and keep an eye on its personnel
  • He personally appointed members to council-stop president of council promoting own family members
  • Required selected members to keep him up to date with regular 'news bulletins'
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The structure of Henry's VII's Government x4

The council of Wales and the Marches

Although less cause to fear the welsh (background)-still needed to secure control. His control was revived in 1493, with his uncle, Jasper Tudor to oversee its operations. Trusted Welshmen were appointed key positions in Wales - Sir Rhys ap Thomas: South west wales & William ap Gruffudd: North Wales. He continued the tradition of appointing his eldest son Prince Of Wales. By 1495, due in part to inheritance,death and forfeiture there were few Marcher Lordshipsfthat remained in private hands. As a result-Henry ruled directly and indirectly more of Wales than any previous King Of England.

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The structure of Henry's VII's Government x4.5

The Council In Ireland

Henry -aware of threat posed by Ireland-Pretenders. As a result of his support for Warbeck, the Earl of Kildare was deprived of role or Lord Deputy and many of his closest supporters were dismissed. Only once they had sought the King's pardon were some of their titles and offices returned. 

1491:Bid to secure greater control, Edward Poynings - Lord Deputy - main tasks were-

  • Bring peace to Ireland, especailly Ulster - Most rebellious part of Ireland.
  • Control Irish nobility.
  • Discourage support for possible pretenders and Yorkists.
  • Protect Ireland from foreign invasion. 

He was successful to some extent - No foreign invasions & Irish less prepared to support pretenders. But Irish nobility never fully submitted and support was tenuous. Poynings did succeed in imposing a constitution in Ireland, to ensure its obedience to the English Crown. it stated the King had the right to - Summon/dismiss parliament. Aprove the agenda of busimess and Enorce English law automatically in Ireland. Also Henry's son Henry - Lord Lieutenant.

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Henry VII's Key Ministers & Financial Policies

Bishop Richard Fox: Keeper of Privy seal, With Henry in exile, Lawyer, Senior Councillor, Member of Privy council, Made Bishop of Durham (1494), 1510 - Peace treaty signed with France - Pushed for peace. 

Sir Reginald Bray: Given order of Garter, Council Learned headed by Bray, Knighted after Bosworth, Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster, Henry's chief financial property administrator, Key in Buckingham rebellion, Died 1503.

Sir Richard Empson: Important member of council learned, Lawyer, Member of Parilament, Responsible for overseeing system of Bonds & Recognisances, Hated by nobles. 

Edmund Dudley: Empson's deputy, Speaker in house of commons, Lawyer, Non-noble, Dominated council learned. 

John Morton: Archbishop of Canterbury, In exile with Henry, Visited Rome to get Papal support & Papal dispensation, Lawyer, Lord Chanellor, Master of the Rolls.

Sir Thomas Lovell: In exile with Henry, Lawyer, Regular attender of King's council, Rebelled against Richard III, 1 of 5 ministers aligned with Henry before Bosworth, Overseer of Henry's Will, Outstanding servant of the crown. 

Ordinary Revenue: Feudal Dues, Profits Of Justice, Crown Lands, Customs Duties, Act of Resumption.

Extraordinary Revenue: Parliamentary Grants, Loans & Benevolences, Bonds & Recognisances, Clerical Taxes,                                          The french pension.  

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Henry VIII's Government

Henry VIII's Government differed from that of his fathers - It included The Court, The Privy Council, The privy Chamber and then ultimate power to the king. 

Main Priorities 

  • Marry Catherine Of Aragon (cement an Angol-Spanish alliance, and secure an heir), Marriage arranged before Henry Father's death but instead Catherine was used as an implement to international deals with spain - Married on 11th June 1509. 
  • Pursue an aggressive foreign policy.
  • Increase his level of power and control in regions - particulary Ireland and Wales. 
  • Get the nobility on side.
  • Organise his own court - Allow him the least amount of personal time being taken up with admin, but still grant him the greatest possible power. 
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Thomas Wolsey

Wolsey had been championed by Richard Fox prior to the reign of the young King Henry VIII - put him in a stable position - he was within the infulence of the King's Council. As a direct result of Woldey's ability to raise funds to support Henry's greatly desired war with France, led to him be appointed many significant roles in the years that followed - 

  • Archbishop Of Tournai (1513)
  • Archbishop Of York (1514)
  • Appointed as cardinal - Lord Chancellor (1515)
  • Papal Legate (1518)
  • Organises meeting with Francis I at field of the cloth of gold (Henry to assert English authority in France)

Wolsey - willing and able to carry out the mundane day to day tasks that Henry himself did not want to be troubled with. Skillfull-dealing with rivals, Conscious to be seen to be connected with the punishment of those who went against the king-Execution of the Duke of Buckingham (1521). 

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Thomas Wolsey 1.5

Legal Affairs

From appointment as Lord Chancellor in 1515-active member in both Court Chancery and Court of Star Chamber. His success lay on the fact that anyonoe could bring a case before the Star Chamber regardless of wealth of socail status. Wolsey was keen to champion Civil Law over Common Law-believed it to be more progressive. However, despite being keen to promote a new system of justice-Wolsey was also known to use these laws for personal gain. - Punish Sir Amyas Paulet for a humiliation he suffered as a young man of the cloth. - wolseys court for 5 years.

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Thomas Wolsey x2

Another area where Wolsey gained notoriety is his emphasis on punishing those who enclosed common land illegally. In 1517-launched a national enquiry on enclosed land-leading to a court ordering of rebuilding destroyed houses and a return of the land to arable farming - ultimately reversing enclosure. These actions - very unpopular with the aristocracy - continued to enclose anyway. In a parliamentary session in 1523-Wolsey was forced to accept all existing enclosures. 

Financial polices

Met with mixed feelings-many perceiving him as a man having to deal with an over ambitious king and a relatively low bank balance. 


  • Wanted to replace traditional tax system of Fifteenths and Tenths - more flexible & realistic subsidy,
  • Commissions sent out to assess wealth & graduated systems of tax were introduced-greater tax on wealthy.
  • The fifteenths and Tenths continued to exist but alongside the subsidy (Parliamentary Subsidy)
  • These policies caused great resentment almongst the ruiling classes. 

The Amicable Grant (1525) 

  • Used as a means to gather revenue for further foreign enterprises in France, 
  • Designed to target both Clergy and Laity,
  • Met with rebellon in Suffolk and East Anglia,
  • Henry denied all knowledge of The Amicable Grant, 
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Thomas Wolsey x3

Foreign Policies 

Wolsey rose to eminence under the victories in France in 1513 - Quick ability to raise an expeditionary force saw an English army 12,000 strong to sail to France. However - suggested that despite Henry's desire for war, Wolsey was keener to manintain a balance of power in Europe. - Wanted to become Pope one day - suggested that he conducted the Pope's intrests in English foriegn policy. 

The Church 

Good Christian? - Some suggest that it was life of extravagance that led to the crumblng of catholic authority in England. Undeniable that despite being the bishop of the parishes - Wolsey never visited his sees of Lincoln,Bath, Wells and Durham. 

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Thomas Wolsey x3.5

Monastic Reform 

Wolsey initiated the idea of commissions to visit monasteries across England - asses the extent to which monastic duties were being carried out. as not all monasteries were fulfilling duties-Wolsey had some abbots replaced and suggested the creation of 13 new episcopal sees ( areas over where a bishop has authority), based on the dissolution of the underperforming monasteries. - Also had 30 housed dissolved to pay for the building of places like Oxford. 

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Thomas Wolsey x4

Who did he serve? 

Both the Pope and Henry VIII hoped to benefit financially from the appointment of Wolsey as Papal Legate. However - did not deliver expected subsidy to Rome, Wolsey proved useful to Henry - succeeding in taxing the clergy further than his father (Henry VII) had ever managed to. 

The Fall of Thomas Wolsey 

Successful for 15 years - fall spectacular - overarching reason was his inability to settle the 'King's Great Matter' (The Divorce) However many reasons why Wolsey was stripped of his power. 

Role Of The Nobles 

Wolsey had deliberately kept ambitious men away from Henry's court - Richard Pace were sent on Eltham Ordinances - (Government roles away from London). Such behaviour bred resentment amongst the Nobility - Majority of the 1520's little backlash - Wolsey's Position next to king too strong.  

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Thomas Wolsey x5

Anne Boleyn 

Emergence of Anne Boleyn-rivalry for the King's affections were politicised. The dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk had been anti-Wolsey prior to Anne Boleyn-But her powers of persuasion over the king ensured that the Privy Chamber became more politicised, as she saw to it that the Duke's as well as her brother were promoted to positions of power within the Privy Council. This in turn forced Wolsey to head up his own rival faction - bringing about the return of former rivals (Pace)

'The King's Great Matter' 

By 1525-abundantly clear that Catherine Of Aragon was in no position to be able to produce another heir. Arrival of Anne Boleyn Catherine - less attractive. Henry wanted a divorce. As Papal Legate Wolsey only man in England capable of putting forward the King's case to the Pope. As Catherine was Catholic-put appeals to pope to deny divorce. Henry wished to pursue Leviticus (old teaching-marriage to brothers wife prohibited-therfore marriage to catherine null and void). However-Wolsey tried to encourage Henry to support teaching's of Deuteronomy-Henry against this-Left Wolsey with little room to manoeuvre. 

in 1527-Troops belonging to the Holy Roman Emperor sacked Rome-Pope Political prisoner-Even if The Pope wanted to grant divorce-he couldn't being hostage of Charles V (Catherine's Nephew).

In Lieu of granting a divorce-Pope did allow a court proceeding -evidence from both parties. Campeggio himself-suggested that Catherine retire to a nunery-allowing Henry to remarry-Catherine of course refused.-No other option but to deny divorce. -Left Henry very embarrased-he saw it-Wolsey was the man who let it escalate. 

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Thomas Wolsey x6

Wolsey's role in his own downfall

Suggested that Wolsey can be implicated in his own downfall-relentless pursuit of unpopular policies.

Amicable Grant-Hailed as the beginning of the end for Wolsey- Was a non-parliamentary tax-unpopular with the majority of population-not just the nobility.-The Grant led to violent rebellions (Suffolk and East Anglia) The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk had to be used to supress it. The Amicable grant had to be abandoned in May 1525.

Wolsey's Last Months

Following the disastrous court case-Wolsey was dismissed from his role as Lord Chancellor, and charged with Praemunrie-9th October 1525. Wolsey surrendered both himself and wealth-King's mercy. Henry allowed Wolsey to live-Hoped he may become useful again. But Wolsey had ambitions of a comeback-beginning correspondence with French and Imperial agents (attempting to secure divorce) -His enemies took this as an opportunity to persuade the King of Wolsey's plotting treason. November 1530-Wolsey arrested-officially charged with treason & summoned by the King to the Tower of London to face execution. On the long journey-Wolsey died at Leicester Abbey (29th Nov 1530).

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Thomas More

After Wolsey-Lord Chancellor-Thomas More, He was a very intelligent man and already a servant of the King.

Reputation-put his principles before anything else-Strong humanist beliefs which he revealed in a number of books, including one written about Richard III where he helped to foster the myth that he was an evil and murdering monster. Most writing's became a favourite with Henry VIII. More was critical of some aspects of the Catholic Church, but like other humanists he remained convinced that reform could be achieved by steady persuasion rather than by drastic action.He was intolerant of opinions that did not match his own & instrumental in the harsh persecution of reformers in 1528 and 1530-1. 

As Lord Chancellor-More was able to attack Lutheran influences within the church-found work frustrated by Anne Boleyn's presence at court and by the messy question of the royal divorce. As Henry moved towards a break with the Pope, More resigned because his conscience would not let him support such a move. He refused to swear an oath accepting that Anne Boleyn's daughter was the legitimate heir to the throne, whilst Catherine Of Aragon's daughter was completely excluded.- Since this was tantamount to saying that the royal divorce was legal even though the Pope had not sanctioned it. More-imprisoned and executed in 1535.

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Thomas Cromwell

Born in Putney-Humble background-spent time in the netherlands and Italy. Returned to England in 1516 - married and emplyed in Wolsey's household. By 1529-Key aide to Wolsey e.g In Wolsey's suppression of the monasteries. By 1523-member of parliament and started practising law. By 1531-Member of the King's council and a key minister two years later. From this point made enemies- Gardiner,Thomas Howard. 


  • 1532 - Master of the King's Jewels,
  • 1532 - Role in the court of Chancery,
  • 1533 - Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
  • 1534 - Master of the Rolls,
  • 1534 - King's Principal Secretary,
  • Lord Privy Seal,
  • Vicar-General and Vice-Regent of the church,
  • 1540 - Earl of Essex,
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Thomas Cromwell 1.5

Thomas Cromwell was an agent of considerable talent and expertise-worked extremely hard. Aware of the consequences of following a policy that didn't suit the King. - This meant he became indispensable. By 1532-Taken over the management of the King's divorce and between 1532-6 devised the strategy and the acts which destroyed the power of Rome and the Church of England. Cromwell's motivation - make royal government more efficient - Presided over and organised enormous changes in England. - Shaped the development of the system of the government and the way England administered,worshipped and paid taxes. 

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Thomas Cromwell x2

Was there a 'Revolution in Government'?

Professor GR Elton published a book in 1953-crucial changes in the way England was governed. - Believed Cromwell ended the old medieval way with the centre of power with the King's Household and into bureaucrastically organised government departments. This affected the Council, The Royal Finances and the role of the King's principal Secetary. Elton argues that this amounts to a revolution.

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Thomas Cromwell x2

The Privy Council 

Whilst the problem of Henry's marriage dominated royal policy after 1529, he drew a small group of councillors about himself who became a 'Council Attendant. Although such an inner circle had existed before by 1540 the informal group had become a new institution:The Privy Council. Its role was to serve the monarch and administer on his behalf if necessary, such as with the day-to-day admin if the monarch had little interest, was abroad or unwell-19 members and a clerk to record decisions. Mostly advised on Policy rather than justice-With the Star chamber and Court of requests continuing with judicial work. Cormwell-important role-drawing up the agenda for meetings and implementing decisions.This meant he was able to coordinate the whole business of government. Elton considered that he had planned this development-therfore it was a 'revolutionary' change. 

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Thomas Cromwell x2.5

However, many think otherwise (Guy and Loades),

  1. Wolsey had developed the Courts associated with the Council-Cromwell not creating anything new,
  2. Other nobility wanted a Privy Council
  3. It was certain events that created the Privy Council - During the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace the King and Cromwell, at a time of danger had to let the council take on a more prominent role. 
  4. Its development actually halted by Cromwell-After he returned to greater power-Pilgrimage of Grace.  
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Thomas Cromwell x3


Royal revenue was paid to the Treasurer of the Chamber in cash and stored in one of the King's stong rooms. The advantages of this system were that it could be closely supervised by the King, the amount of money available to him was clear and it was available in cash. Alongside this income from customs and the administration of justice went through the Exchequer, but this could be very slow. - Cromwell created organised financial departments from 1536 - partly to deal with the increased income from the Reformation.

  • The Office of General Surveyors became a permanent department to handle Household income.
  • The Court of Augmentations dealt with income from confiscated monastic lands. 
  • Court of Wards was set up to handle revenue from Wardship. 
  • Court of First Fruits and Tenths (collection of church dues). 

Elton believed that Cromwell made these changes as part of a master plan. However, the creation of the departments can be seen as a response to particular needs.  

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Thomas Cromwell x4

The Secretary 

The King's Secretary read and summarised letters to the King and helped draft and wrtie royal replies. He was in charge of the King's private seal-used to authorise royal orders to government departments. When Cromwell took this post the importance in it lay in access to the King and intimate knowledge of royal affairs. Elton believes Cromwell took the secretary-ship out of the Household and made it into an office of state. 


Parliament had been rarely used by Edward IV or Henry VII, Or during Wolsey's time in power. Although laws made by parliament with royal consent (Statues) were considered the highest form of law in England, the King oftern made proclamations (Decrees when parliament was not in session). Parliament was largely used to collect taxes. However, in the 1530s it was used extensively for the legislation needed to legalise the break with Rome. Cromwell used it in a different way-as he needed the status of Statue Law to strengthen the changes to church and government. This meant that Parliament legalised in areas it had previously not been involved in and its role changed considerably.

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Thomas Cromwell - Parliament & Power of the crown

  • After the dissolution of the monasteries, Abbots were no longer part of the House of Lords, meaning that the clergy was then in the minority. 
  • 14 new boroughs were established, which elected MPs. The increased status and importance of Parliament meant gentlemen landowners began to seek election. 
  • By the end of the 1530s it was recognised that Statue Law made by the King-in-Parliament had the highest authority in England and Wales. It could then be applied to virtually any aspect of society. In future monarchs that wished to change laws had to do so with the cooperation of parliament. 
  • As so many laws were passed, procedures developed and MPs gained a level of experience. It became standard practise to pass a bill after three readings in the Lords and Commons. (From being King and Parliament to King in Parliament) 
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Power of the Crown & Cromwell's Fall

As well as these significant changes, Cromwell was also involved in the reform of the Councils of the North and of Wales, where new administrative systems were set up. Taxation was centralised, which led in part to the Pilgrimage of Grace and a new breed of efficient royal servants developed. 

The Fall of Cromwell : Cromwell, the outstanding servant of Henry VIII who achieved so much on his master's behalf without any desire for personal power or wealth, fell with haste. Arrested and Imprisoned in the tower, after an Act of Attainder. Charged of treason and executed on 28th June 1540. He was skilled in the 'game' of court and politics and knew what would happen if he was not in favour with the king - So how did it go so wrong? 

The Cleves Marriage : In 1538 the Pope Excommunicated Henry. At the same time there was peace between France and the Habsburgs. Belief that gaining Protestant friends in Germany as possible allies against a Roman Catholic attack would be beneficial. A marriage between Anne of Cleves would also be beneficial- however Cromwell had been misinformed about her looks and Henry could not stand the sight of her. - Great embarrassment to Henry - Cromwell played a part in this. However, Cromwell had been very good at disposing Henry's previous wives and was awarded the Earldom of Essex after the marriage fiasco.

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Cromwells Fall - Continued

The Howard Faction 

Henry had become infatuated with Catherine Howard, neice of the Duke of Norfolk whom had placed her in court. Norfolk ( a bitter rival of Cromwell) used the Cleves marriage to poison Henry's mind against Cromwell. Catherine was instructed to spread rumours that Cromwell was not securing the divorce quickly enough. 

Catholic Backlash 

Cromwell, in his position as Vice-gerent of Spirituals, had the authority to make religious decisions in the name of the King. He had set out a more Protestant view of the church in the Ten Articles (1536) and encouraged the Protestant minority openly to preach doctrines which were too radical for Henry. This was largely reversed by the Six Articles (June 1539), which restored essentially Catholic teaching. However, religious conservatives at court, such as Gardiner, reinforced Henry's dislike of Protestant theology. The result was that when the Duke of Norfolk suggested Cromwell was sheltering a group of Protestants in Calais it was enough for charges of Heresy to be brought against him. 

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Cromwells Fall - Continued x2

Cromwell's End/Henry Himself 

Henry was older and more ill by this time-more suspicious and believed the stories about enemies of the crown. The Privy Council was used against Cromwell and an Act Of Attainder quickly passed. Cromwell's disposal was rushed through before Henry quite realised what was happening. Usually able to maintain control of factions-but embarrassment caused by the Cleves affair and desire for Catherine Howard clouded his judgement. Soon after Cromwell's death he was angry at being hoodwinked into killing his most outstanding minister and was not to replace him. 

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thomas Cromwell - Parliament & Power of the crown

Power of the crown - How far did it increase?

Royal authority- Not evenly spread. Particulary in the 3 following areas. Cromwell dealt with all of these: 

  1. Wales was not fully part of the English system of government until the Acts of Union (1536-43) reorganised local government. 
  2. Parts of England had 'Liberties'-they were semi-independent. The Act Against Liberties and Franchises removed or restricted the specail powers of regional nobles, limiting the power of magnates. It also provided consistent application of the law.
  3. The King had to follow the Pope's views on religious doctrine, such as he was supposed to consult the Pope before choosing Bishops - The break with Rome removed the Pope's infulence. 
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