The consolidation of Henry VII's position 1485-1487

How Henry Tudor moved from being "King of the battle field" to King of England. How he ban to enforce his personal rule over the Kingdom.

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From Bosworth to London

Henry Tudor was proclaimed King of England by Lord Stanley on the battlefield at Bosworth. He declared his reign started from the 21 August. In doing so, all enemies on the batlefield could be considered as traitors. The punishment was attainment. He also Knighted 11 men on the battlefield. He showed decisiveness when he sent Sir Richard Willoughby to Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire to secure Elizabeth of York.

Henry slowly made his way to the capital, taking care to not make any hasty decisions. He paused for a few days at St Albans. This gave time for royal servants time to prepare the triumphant entry into London. It also gave Henry to reflect on the structure of his new government. He appointed John Morton, Bishop of Ely, to be Chancellor of England, Bishop Peter Courtenay to be Keeper of the Privy Seal and the Yorkist Lord Dynham to be the permanent Treasurer at the Exchequer. Sir William Stanley became Lord Chamberlain.

His coronation took place on Sunday 30 October. The service was almost identical to that used for Richard III. By having his coronation before parliament sat in November, Henry made sure that parliament could never claim to have made him King, a claim which would have set dangerous precedents for the future rulers.

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The first parliament and the Marriage to Elizabeth

Henry had issued writs for parliament on the 15 September but it did not meet until after the coronation on 7 November 1485. The business of the new parliament included the declaration of the King's title, to reverse and enact attainders, financial matters (such as tunnage and poundage), and legislation (parliament approved a new oath of loyalty to be sworn by the royal household, the Commons and the Lords, both temporal and spiritual. Another important measure was the nullificaion of Richard III's act that declared the children of Edward IV illegitmate. Its final action before prorogation was to formally request the King married Elizabeth of York. Henry and Elizabeth shared blood relationship so therefore required dispensation to get married, it was approved initially on 16 January 1486 by eight English bishops, then subsequently confirmed by the Pope on 2 March.

The marriage took place on the 18 January 1486. This promised marriage was, like the red and white rose, a symbol of reconcialiation between two warring houses.Tudor propaganda appears to have been very powerful. For, although the Wars of the Roses could be said have continued beyond 1485, and even after the Battle of Stoke in 1487, through the activities of Yorkist sympathisers such as Lambert Simmnel and Perkin Warbeck, it is a lasting achievement of Henry VII that these have gone down in history as "pretenders" or "imposters".

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Pretenders, claimants and rebellions

The Lovell rebellion, Easter 1486

Three minor noblemen, who had prospered under Richard III, led an unsuccessful Yorkist challenge to Tudor - Francis Lovell and the Stafford brothers. All three had fled to sanctuary after the Battle of Bosworth but broke out in 1486. Lovell was crushed by Jasper Tudor and fled to Flanders. After the rebellion rules of sanctuary were altered, making it impossible to plead sanctuary in treason cases. The Yorkists understood they needed a prince to stand against Henry. The King feared that France, Burgundy, Spain, Ireland or Scotland might profit from supporting the Yorkists. He relied on his close friends, whom he rewarded but also controlled through varied means such as bonds and acts of resumption.

Lambert Simnel rebellion

All these precautions were not enough to prevent the Challenge from Lamber Simnel 1486-7. During the spring of 1487, the Earl of Lincoln joined Lovell at the court of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. They persuaded the Duchess to sponsor the Lambert Simnel imposture with both financial and military (2,000 german mercenaries) assistance. The Yorkists planned on gaining support from Ireland. On the 5 May Lincoln, Lovell and the Yorkist army arrived in Dublin, forcing Anglo-Irish nobles to make a decision.

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Pretenders, claimants and rebellions (part 2)

The coronation of Lambert Simnel as Edward VI took place on the 24 May 1487. Rumours of such a revolt were circulating from November 1486, these explain the Kin's decision to issue a summons to attend Royal Counsel in February 1487. Given that the Earl of Lincoln was a memeber of this Counsel, it appears the King had not yet realised that a leading Yorkist at the heart of his government was implicated. The same counsel deprived Elizabeth Woodville of her estates and confined her to a nunnery, to prevent her conspiring against Tudor. Many people were under suspicion, yet managed to escape to Burgundy. Margaret of Burgundy interpreted Tudor's seizure of the throne as a French-backed coup.

After Henry VII learned of Loncoln's departure for Burgundy and the court of the Duchess of Burgundy, he had to deal with open rebellion.

The Battle of Stoke, 16 June 1487

To Henry VII this battle was real threat - he did not know the size, the power nor the route of the rebel army, above all, he was acutely aware that battles were unpredictable. In reality the rebel army failed to win enough support during their march through England and numbered approximately 8,000, poorly arme and equiped, on the day of the battle.

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Pretenders, claimants and rebellions (part 3)

Lincoln arrayed his army on the top of a ridge with his german mercenaries at the front, while the royal host of approximately 15,000 massed below. When Lincoln decided to launch a fierce attack on the King's army by charhing downhill, for a short while the outcome may have swung but after three hours Oxford's experience counted. Lincoln, Fitzgerald were killed and Lambert Simnel was taken alive by Robert Bellingham. Henry ordered the insignificant English rebels to be hung along with all the surviving Irishmen.The King spared the lives of all notable English rebels, although they were required to make confessions and recognise good behavious bonds, and some ha to pay fines.

The Battle of Stoke would prove to be the last engagement of the Wars of the Roses and therefore a real watershed in the nation's history. Henry was in a much moe secure position by the end of 1487. Meeting the Simnel Challenge had enabled him to test the effectiveness of his ministers. The cost of the campaign and his acute shortage of ready money drove him to improve the crown's financial position. He also made aware the problem law making and enforcement, so the Star Chamber was used to strenghen that aspect of personal monarchy.

1487 ended with the coronation of Elizabeth. The list of those attending the ceremony and reception is proof that Henry's hold on political nation was broadening.

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