Breadth 2 - Changes in the sinews of power


How significant was royal income for the successful expression of political power in late medieval England?

Routine expenditure

  • Maintenance of the king, family, and retainers. Lavish clothes, food, drink
  • Regular defence costs - Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Calais
  • Administration - staff in Exchequer and Chamber

Exceptional expenditure

  • Ceremonial costs - coronations, weddings, baptisms
  • Exceptional defence costs - conquests of France


  • Decline in traditional income - fall in tax from wool trade
  • Very high defence costs - Henry IV in Wales, Henry V in France
  • Henry VI very unsuccessful in France - a lot of debt - lots of criticism
  • Was key for Edward IV to improve finances - improved relations with creditors, forced loans and gifts, 1475 Treaty of Picquiny - died solvent
  • Henry VII increased income


  • In theory - all land belongs to king, he grants it to those who are loyal
  • King needed to respect hereditary claims of noble families - e.g Richard II disinheriting Henry IV led to usurpation
  • Limited land in England - motivation to invade France - could give land to nobles
  • Forfeiture - Treasonous lords had to give up lands - could give to more loyal nobles. E.g. Warwick, George, duke of Clarence
  • Acts of Attainder - land lost to family forever - Henry VII used it to scare nobles
  • Heirs could regain land through constant repayments to crown - e.g Henry Percy
  • Wars of the Roses meant lots of land constantly redistributed - good for followers of king but offered no real income in long run
  • Demese lands (crown lands) granted if no land left - Henry VI had to do this a lot

To what extent was the Duchy of Lancaster an advantage for Henry IV?

  • Henry IV came to throne - he was duke of Lancaster
  • Charter from 1399 states Duchy was kings property, seperate from others
  • Duchy so valuable it had administrative council
  • Could show Henry IV unstable - had something to fall back on
  • Duchy provided good income and loyal retinues
  • Henry told parliment he could live on his own (to gain popularity), only need tax in war - menat parliment unwilling to grant future kings tax - should raise money himself
  • Hard to raise money - black death meant labour expensive, hard to farm
  • Income from Duchy to support family. Some used for favoured members of household. Some used for government finances
  • Henry V brought Duchy closer to royal finances- increased profits and funding for government finances
  • Hnery VI - income reduced from Duchy - poor leadership - less productive land
  • Henry V marriage - dowry to come from Duchy
  • Henry VI projects - Cambridge, Eton
  • Henry IV not had own interests - meant as a judge was bias. Needed lands to retain Lancastrian supporters because was usurper
  • Henry V confident as king - used to extend support
  • Henry VI not strong enough - relied on nobles - meant Duchy lands in conflict

What happened to income from Duchy lands after the fall of the House of


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