The Royal Household - Early Modern History

Details about the set up of the Royal Household under Henry VIII, as is relevant to the Early Modern History AS Level course.

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  • Created by: Tiula
  • Created on: 13-03-11 12:09

The Structure of the Royal Household

There was no civil service, police force, or even a regular army, so the Royal Household, which, in a way, encompassed all three, was the largest expenditure. It was made up of three main departments:

  • The Household
    • confusingly, this also refers to all three elements together. This was the largest section of court.
  • The Chamber
    • a smaller, more elect group of courtiers, closer to the king
  • The Privy Chamber
    • the smallest of the three departments containing the king's friends

These three departments had two main jobs:

  • to service the king's needs and desires
  • to provide magnificence and hospitality to visitors
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The Household

  • This dealt with the service side, and its main job was to arrange food, lodgings, and comfort for the king.
  • Contained many people, from the lowest servants who would carry out the tasks, to fairly important nobility who were to run it.
  • It was governed by the Board of Green Cloth, and the head was called the Lord Steward.
  • For newcomers, it was the ideal place to gain the king's favour and climb the royal ladder.
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The Chamber

  • Dealt with the magnificence side of the court -- the balls, the jousts, and the entertainment laid on for ambassadors, friends, and foreign visitors.
  • Presided over by the Lord Chamberlain, whose job it also was to receive and entertain diplomats/ambassadors.
  • Smaller than the household, but still contained many people, with opportunities for the king's favour if things were done well.
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The Privy Chamber

  • Smallest and most elite group at court, which gave the king a certain amount of privacy. Made up of the king's friends.
  • Staffed by the Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber only -- no servants. They had the privilege of intimate and daily access to the king, which gave them:
    • political influence -- channels of communications
    • valued position
    • For a female monarch, these became the Ladies of the Chamber.
  • Headed by the Groom of the Stool, who also attended to the king's close-stool (the king's portable, closeable toilet).
  • Privy Chamber ALWAYS moved with the king (the others did mostly, but not always).
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Brillaint work- well done!



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