How did Henry VII govern?

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What were Medieval and Personal Monarchy?

Medieval monarchy was personal. In any personal monarchy the political power & influence depended more on the relationship that person had with the monarch than on any office they may hold. Access to the King was the main determinant of power & it was through the royal court that access was controlled. This was always the case.

  • Henry's success was achieved by keeping the elites & governors at a distance.
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The Council I

What were its functions?

  • supported the King when making key decisions.
  • advise the King.
  • administer the realm on the King's behalf.
    • take care of England in the King's absence.
  • make legal judgements.

Who could be a councillor?

  • members of the nobility.
    • ie. Lord Dynham.
  • Churchmen
    • ie. John Morton - often had legal training & were excellent administrators.
  • Laymen (gentry or lawyers)
    • ie. Sir Reginald Bray - skilled administrators
      • played a significant role during the reign of Edward IV
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The Council II

How effective was it?

  • permanent body with membership.
  • no established rules or procedures.
  • sometimes met separately to deal with key administrative concerns when the King was not present.
  • professional councillors (ie. Bray & Dudley) often met to deal with legal matters in London.

Were the individuals more important than the council as a whole?

  • I think that without certain individuals the council would definitely have struggled to cope with the responsibilities that they had.
    • Bray was a prominent figure that gave much strength to the council.
      • it was important that the prominent figures of the council were intelligent & loyal to provide as much support as possible.
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The Council Learned I

What was its function?

  • maintain the King's revenue & exploit prerogative rights
  • King's basic rights (doesn't require permission).

What did it do well?

  • made the system of bonds & recognisances (see "Sources of Royal Income Under Henry VII) work very effectively - Henry's threat of punishment to nobles.
    • able to entrap many of the King's subjects.

Why was it criticised?

  • not a recognised court of law.
  • anyone summoned had no chance to appeal.
  • Thomas Penn - "the Council Learned caused fear, frustration & anger."
  • bypassed the normal legal system.
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The Council Learned II

What was the reputation of key individuals?

  • Richard Empson (Bray's associate)
    • ruthless approach defined behaviour of Council Learned.
  • Edmund Dudley 
    • formed a feared combination of able & conscientious bureaucrats.
      • raised the attraction of money from the KIng's subjects.
  • enemies amongst key advisors.
    • ie. Bishop Fox & Sir Thomas Lovell
      • removed them after Henry VII's death.
        • people rejoiced.
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Court & Household I

  • the centre of government.
  • wealth = power.
  • magnificent & generous.
    • Henry VII influenced by continental examples.

Why was it important to Henry?

  • found wherever the King was.
  • place for royal ceremony.

Why was it important for everyone else?

  • rewards & status.
  • distributed to those who deserved it.
  • courtiers had paid for positions & right to receive free food.
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Court & Household II

What were the different levels to court?

  • the Household Proper.
    • looked after the King, Courtiers & guests who were being entertained.
      • supervised by the Lord Steward.
  • Chamber - Lord Chamberlain.
    • position of power & a matter of considerable trust.
      • Sir William Stanley - executed for treason in 1495.

Why & how does Henry change the chamber?

  • created a new Privy Chamber.
    • King could retreat, protected by his servants.
  • more difficult for those who were out of favour to regain the King's support.
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