Henry VII of England

Eyridiki Sellou | Jun 27, 2023

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Henry VII (Pembroke Castle, Pembroke, January 28, 1457 - Richmond Palace, Surrey, April 21, 1509) was the King of England from 1485 until his death. He took the throne after defeating King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, an event that ended the War of the Roses, and was crowned on October 30, and was the founder of the Tudor dynasty. From his marriage to Elizabeth of York were born Arthur, Margaret, Henry VIII, Catherine, Mary, and Edward. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Henry, son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and Margaret Beaufort, was born almost three months after his father's death. His father was the son of Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire, and Catherine of France, widow of King Henry V. His mother was the great-granddaughter of John of Ghent. Henry was raised by his uncle Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke.

Henry Tudor, was the son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond and Margaret Beaufort, was born at Pembroke Castle on January 28, 1457. Margaret was a great-granddaughter of John of Ghent. As Alison Weir pointed out:

"Margaret Beaufort, was his (Henry Tudor's) only link by blood with the Plantagentas, and she herself was descended from the bastards born to John of Ghent, Duke of Lancastre, fourth son of Edward III, and his mistress Catherine Swynford. These children, all surnamed Beaufort, were legitimized by the statute of Richard II in 1397, after Ghent had married his mother; however, ten years later, Henry IV, confirming this, added a knighthood to the statute that prohibited the Beauforts and their heirs from inheriting the crown."

Henry's father had been dead for almost three months by the time he was born. Henry Tudor was soon separated from his mother when Edward IV decided that he wanted him to live with Lord William Herbert, his main supporter in Wales. He was raised at Castle Raglan, with the intention of marrying him off to his eldest daughter. These plans came to an end when Herbert was executed after the Battle of Edgecote Moor on July 26, 1469.

Henry now went to live with his uncle, Jasper Tudor, the restored Earl of Pembroke. At the Battle of Tewkesbury on May 4, 1471, Margaret of Anjou was captured and her thirteen-year-old son, Edward of Westminster, killed. Edward IV sent Roger Vaughan to arrest Henry and Jasper. Vaughan was captured and executed and the two men escaped to Tenby and took a ship, bound for France, but landing in Brittany later in the month after a stormy voyage. Francis II, Duke of Brittany, offered them asylum, but under Edward's diplomatic pressure, this turned into house arrest in a succession of castles and palaces.

Life in Brittany

John Edward Bowle, the author of Henry VIII (1964) states that the young Henry Tudor benefited from living in France:

"Henry Tudor ... had learned in exile and diplomacy to keep his own counsel and deal with men: he could keep aloof and inspired fear, and became the greatest architect of Tudor fortunes. Without the pure blood lust of his contemporaries, he had a sarcastic humor."

King Louis XI of France agreed to Edward's request to try to capture Henry. However, this ended in failure when he was given refuge by a group of Breton nobles in Brittany. Upon Edward IV's death in 1483, his youngest sons, Edward and Richard, were usurped by their uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. He proclaimed himself Richard III and imprisoned the Princes in the Tower, where he almost certainly had them killed.

Henry Tudor, as head of the House of Lancastre, now had the right to become king. Margaret Beaufort began to conspire with various other opponents of Richard to place her son on the throne. Negotiations took place and in December 1483, Henry took an oath at Rennes Cathedral to marry Elizabeth of York if he was successful in becoming King of England.

The regents of the young King Charles VIII saw the advantage of supporting Henry Tudor against Richard III and provided him with money, ships, and men to seek the crown. In August 1485, Henry arrived in Wales with 2,000 of his supporters. He also brought with him more than 1 800 mercenaries recruited from French prisons. While in Wales, Henry also convinced many skilled archers to join him in his fight against Richard. By the time Henry Tudor arrived in England, the size of his army had grown to 5,000 men.

When Richard heard of Henry Tudor's arrival, he marched his army to meet his rival for the throne. On the way, Richard tried to recruit as many men as possible to fight in his army, but when he arrived in Leicester he had only an army of 6,000 men. Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland, also brought 3 000 men, but his loyalty to Richard was in doubt. Richard sent an order to Lord Thomas Stanley and Sir William Stanley, two of the most powerful men in England, to bring their 6 000 soldiers to fight for the king. Richard had been informed that Lord Stanley had already promised to help Henry Tudor. To persuade him to change his mind, Richard arranged for the kidnapping of Lord Stanley's eldest son. On August 21, 1485, King Richard's army took up position on Ambien Hill, near the small village of Bosworth in Leicestershire. Henry arrived the next day and took up a position facing Richard. When the Stanley brothers arrived, they did not join either army. Instead, Lord Stanley went to the north of the battlefield and Sir William to the south. The four armies now formed the four sides of a square.

Without the support of the Stanley brothers, Richard seemed certain to be defeated. Richard therefore gave orders for Lord Stanley's son to be taken to the hilltop. The king then sent a message to Lord Stanley threatening to execute his son unless he immediately sent his troops to join the king on Ambien Hill. Lord Stanley's reply was short: "Sir, I have other sons." Henry Tudor's forces were now attacking King Richard's army. Although outnumbered, Richard's superior position on the hilltop allowed him to stop the rival forces emerging at first. When the situation began to deteriorate, Richard summoned his reserve forces led by Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland. However, Northumberland, convinced that Richard would lose, ignored the order.

Richard's advisors said that he should try to escape. Richard refused, claiming that he could still achieve victory by killing Henry Tudor in personal combat. He argued that once the pretender to the throne was dead, his army would have no reason to continue fighting. With a loyal squadron of his household, he went to Henry's immediate bodyguard, knocking out his standard-bearer. At this moment, his horse died under him. Polydore Vergil later reported that "King Richard alone was slain fighting bravely in the densest pressure of his enemies."

Henry VII was crowned on the battlefield with Richard's crown. He then marched to Leicester and then slowly forward to London. On September 3, he entered the capital triumphantly. Elizabeth of York was placed in the London home of her mother, Margaret Beaufort. The parliament that met on November 7 affirmed the legitimacy of Henry's title and annulled the instrument incorporating Richard III's title to the throne. On December 10, 1485, the House of Commons, through its spokesman Thomas Lovell, urged the king to fulfill his promise to marry "That illustrious lady Elizabeth, daughter of King Edward IV" and thus make possible "the propagation of the descendants of the stock of kings."

Henry married Elizabeth of York and on September 19, 1486 she gave birth to a son, Prince Arthur. He was baptized on September 24 at Winchester Cathedral and named after the famous British hero whose fabulous exploits occupy the pages of Geoffrey of Monmouth. Initially, he was placed under the care of women and his nursery at Farnham. This was run by Dame Elizabeth Darcy. Francis Bacon suggested that Henry's "Aversion to the House of York was so prevalent in him that it found a place not only in his wars and councils, but in his room and bed." However, Elizabeth's biographer, Rosemary Horrox, disagrees with this assessment. She cites several different sources that indicate they had a happy marriage. Henry VII inherited a smaller kingdom than it had been for more than 400 years. For the first time since the 11th century, the kingdom did not include a French province. The only part of France still held by the English was the Marche de Calais, a strip of territory around the city of Calais. He had held the title "Lord of Ireland" since the 12th century, but effectively ruled only an area that was roughly a semicircle sixty kilometers deep around Dublin.

It is estimated that Henry VII had three million subjects. Almost every summer, they were hit by epidemics of plague or sweating sickness that killed much of the population and improved the survivors' standard of living, as the shortage of tenants and agricultural workers kept rents low and wages high. Fifty thousand people lived in the capital, London. England's second largest city, Norwich, had 13,000 inhabitants; but Bristol and Newcastle were the only other cities with more than 10,000. Ninety percent of the population lived in villages and on country farms.

Foreign Policy

In the early years of his reign, in a vain attempt to prevent the incorporation of the duchy of Brittany into France, Henry found himself drawn together with Spain and the emperor of the Holy Roman-Germanic Empire into a war against France. But he realized that war was a dangerous activity for someone whose crown was impoverished and insecure, and in 1492 he made peace with France on terms that brought him recognition of his dynasty and a handsome pension. Later, French concern over adventures in Italy made peaceful relations possible, but the support Maximilian and James IV gave Warbeck led to sharp quarrels with the Low Countries and Scotland. England's economic importance to the Low Countries allowed Henry to induce Maximilian and the Low Countries to abandon the suitor in 1496 and conclude a treaty of peace and free trade (the Intercursus Magnus).

With Scotland, the long tradition of hostility was more difficult to overcome, but Henry finally managed to conclude a peace treaty in 1499, followed in 1502 by a treaty for the marriage of James IV to Henry's daughter Margaret. James' consent to the marriage may have been fostered by Catherine of Aragon's arrival in England for her marriage to Prince Arthur in 1501. Spain had recently entered the first rank of European powers, so a marriage alliance with Spain increased the prestige of the Tudor dynasty, and the fact that in 1501 the Spanish monarchs allowed the marriage is a tribute to the growing strength of the Tudor regime in the eyes of the European powers. After Arthur's death in 1502, Henry was in a strong position to insist on Catherine's marriage to his surviving son, Henry (later King Henry VIII), since he had possession of both Catherine's person and half of her dowry, and Spain needed English support against France. In fact, in these last years of his reign, Henry gained so much confidence in his position that he indulged in some wild schemes of marriage diplomacy. But the caution of a lifetime kept him from engaging in war, and his foreign policy as a whole should not be judged by such late aberrations. He had used his diplomacy not only to safeguard the dynasty, but to enrich his country, using every opportunity to promote English trade, making commercial treaties, he made his country prosperous and powerful.

Government and Administration

In internal affairs, Henry achieved impressive results largely by traditional methods. Like Edward IV, Henry saw that the crown must be able to show splendor and power when the occasion required. This required wealth, which would also free the king from embarrassing dependence on Parliament and creditors. Solvency could be sought by saving on expenditure, such as preventing war and promoting efficiency in administration, and increasing revenue. To increase his revenue from customs duties, Henry attempted to encourage exports, protect domestic industries, aid English transport by the traditional method of an act of navigation to ensure that English goods were transported on English ships, and find new markets by assisting Giovanni Caboto, in his voyages of discovery.

In restoring order after the civil wars, Henry used more traditional methods than previously thought. Like the Yorkist kings, he made use of a large council, chaired by himself, in which lawyers, clergymen, and petty nobles were active members. Sitting as the Star Chamber Court, the council dealt with judicial matters, but less than previously thought. Almost all the heavy fines levied for the illegal retention of armed men at the end of his reign were imposed in Court by the judges of Assize. Special arrangements were made to hear the causes of poor men in council and to try to promote better order in Wales and the North by setting up special councils there, and more powers were entrusted to justices of the peace. The king, moreover, could not destroy the institution of retainers, since he depended on them for much of his army, and society regarded them as natural deputies of rank. Thus, Henry's government was conservative, as it was in its relations with parliament and the church.


Henry was an extremely efficient ruler in terms of finances. Through a mixture of taxes, feudal fees, rents, and fines, Henry managed to double state revenues during his reign. The last tactic, i.e. imposing fines, proved particularly profitable, as the king charged misdemeanors ranging from bad behavior at court to possession of many armed retainers. One diabolical financial strategy was to issue a penal bond (acknowledgment) to anyone who was ever caught guilty of a financial misdemeanor or fine. If a person failed to fulfill any of his existing financial obligations, then according to this second signed declaration, the king could confiscate his property and ruin it. Many nobles were kept under the rule of the king in this way, with a financial guillotine perpetually hanging over them. The number of nobles also decreased as the new position of Inspector of the King's Guards sought the money that was owed to the king and confiscated land to support Henry's ever-increasing estates. Henry even made money from his one major overseas expedition. In 1489, an army was sent to help Brittany maintain its independence from France and Boulogne was briefly besieged. Henry was initially eager to repay the duchy for taking care of him during his childhood exile there. However, by 1492, he backed out after adequate financial compensation came from Charles VIII of France, who lived up to his nickname "Charles the Affable."

Another source of income was the massive increase in taxes that came from the boom in trade when England signed treaties with Denmark, Holland, Spain, Portugal and Florence. Trade was further encouraged by the Crown investing in a small fleet of merchant ships and establishing a fortified base at Portsmouth. The king was even eager to find new trading places, famously funding the pioneering voyage of the Genoese merchant John Cabot (also known as Giovanni Caboto) to Newfoundland. Cabot set sail in his ship Mathew from Bristol in 1497. Successful in his endeavor, Cabot died on the voyage back to England and his family, true to Henry VII's reputation as a miser, received the paltry sum of 10 pounds from the king.

Eventually, this obsession with enriching the state made the king unpopular, but by then he had firmly reasserted royal power over the nobility. This was done not only by imposing fines and debts on them and limiting their ability to form private armies, but also by establishing councils in Wales, the North and the West of England to better control them. The rise and dominance of the barons, which had so upset Henry's predecessors and ensured that the War of the Roses dragged on for so long, was coming to an end. Even the evolution of Parliament receded during Henry's reign, still an institution only called upon to pass new taxes. In the 23 years of Henry's reign, Parliament met only six times, an indicator that English government was still medieval and the monarch absolute.

Lambert Simnel

Henry VII always worried about being knocked down by rivals for the toss. Alison Weir argued that his childhood experiences encouraged him to feel insecure and suspicious. "He presented to the world a genial, smiling countenance, but underneath it he was suspicious, crooked and parsimonious. He had grown to adulthood in an environment of treachery and intrigue, and as a result had never known security." In February 1487, Lambert Simnel appeared in Dublin and claimed to be Edward, Earl of Warwick, son and heir of George Plantagenet , Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV and the last surviving male of the House of York. Polydore Vergil described him as "An attractive and well-favored young man, not without some extraordinary dignity and grace of appearance."

John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, nephew of the Yorkist kings, is believed to have been the leader of the conspiracy. He sailed to Ireland with more than 1,500 German mercenaries. With this protection, Simnel was crowned as King Edward VI. Pole and his mercenaries, accompanied by 4,000 Irish soldiers, reached the Cumbrian coast on June 4 and marched through northern Lancashire before heading south. Henry's army, probably twice the size of Pole's, left London for the north. Henry was well prepared, having strategically positioned himself to raise support, and purposefully advanced north of Leicester. "On the morning of June 16, the rebels crossed the Trent River upstream from Newark and positioned themselves on the hillside overlooking the Nottingham Road. The Battle of Stoke was a sharp and brutal encounter.

"Henry's archers decimated the rebel army. The Earl of Lincoln was killed during the battle and Lambert Simnel was captured. According to Polydore Vergil, Henry VII spared Lambert Simnel and put him into service, first in the scullery and then as a falconer. Jasper Ridley claims that this shows that "Henry VII ... was not a vindictive man and his style of government was quiet and efficient, never using more cruelty or deception than necessary. When he captured Lambert Simnel, the son of the young merchant who led the first revolt against him and was crowned king of England in Dublin, he did not sentence him to death, but employed him as a servant in his household."

Perkin Warbeck

While visiting Cork in December 1491, Perkin Warbeck was persuaded to pose as Richard, Duke of York, second son of Edward IV, who had disappeared eight years earlier along with his older brother Edward. In 1492, King Charles VIII of France began financing his campaign. This included being sent to Vienna to meet Emperor Maximilian. He gave his support to Perkin Warbeck, but spies in Maximilian's court told Henry VII about the conspiracy. As a result, several people in England were arrested and executed. In July 1495, Warbeck landed some of his men in Deal. They were quickly arrested by the sheriff of Kent, and Warbeck decided to return to Ireland. However, on November 20, 1495, he went to see King James IV of Scotland at Stirling Castle. On January 13, 1496, Jaime arranged for him to marry Lady Katherine Gordon, a distant royal relative. He also funded Warbeck's 1,400 supporters. When Henry VII heard what was happening, he began to plan an invasion of Scotland.

Henry VII decided that he would need to impose a new tax to pay for the cost of raising an army. The people of Cornwall objected to paying taxes for the war against Scotland and began a march on London. On June 13, 1496, the Cornishmen, said to number 15,000, were in Guildford. The army of 8 000 that was being prepared against Scotland had to be quickly diverted to protect London. On June 16, the rebel army reached Blackheath. When they saw Henry's large army, which now numbered 25,000, some of them were deserted. Henry VII sent a force of archers and cavalry to the backs of the rebels. According to Francis Bacon:

"The Cornish, being ill-armed and ill-guided and without horse or artillery, were without great difficulty cut to pieces and put to flight. "A large number of rebels were killed. Some of their leaders were hanged, drawn and quartered. He then proceeded to fine all those involved in the rebellion. It is claimed that this raised £14,699. Bacon commented, "The less blood he drew, the more he drew from the treasury."

Perkin Warbeck decided to take advantage of the Cornish rebellion by landing at Whitesand Bay on September 7. He quickly recruited 8,000 Cornish men, but they were unsuccessful in taking Exeter. They retreated to Taunton, but with news that Henry's army was marching into Cornwall on September 21, Warbeck escaped and sought refuge in Beaulieu Abbey. However, he was captured and brought before Henry at Taunton Castle on October 5. Warbeck was taken to London, where he was repeatedly paraded through the city. Warbeck managed to escape, but was soon recaptured, and on June 18, 1499, he was sent to the Tower of London forever. The following year, he became involved in another plot. "Exactly what part he played in the conspiracy, and in his betrayal of the king on August 3, is difficult to establish, but Henry and his council resolved to punish all the principal participants." Perkin Warbeck was hanged at Tyburn on November 23, 1499.

He married Elizabeth of York on January 18, 1486:

Spain, along with France, were the two greatest powers in Europe. Henry VII constantly feared an invasion by his powerful neighbor. Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile were also concerned about France's possible expansionism and responded favorably to Henry's suggestion of a possible alliance between the two countries. In 1487, King Ferdinand agreed to send ambassadors to England to discuss political and economic relations. In March 1488, the Spanish ambassador to the English court, Roderigo de Puebla, was instructed to offer Henry an agreement. The proposed treaty included agreement that Henry's eldest son, Arthur, would marry Catherine of Aragon in exchange for a promise by Henry to declare war on France. Henry with enthusiasm

"He exhibited his nineteen-month-old son, first dressed with a cloth of gold and then undressed, so that they could see that he had no deformity." Puebla reported that Artur had "Many excellent qualities." However, they did not like sending their daughter to a country whose king could be deposed at any time. As Puebla explained to Henry, "In view of what happens every day to the kings of England, it is surprising that Ferdinand and Isabella would dare to think of giving their daughter away."

The Treaty of Medina del Campo was signed on March 27, 1489. It established a common policy toward France, reduced tariffs between the two countries, and agreed on a marriage contract between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon and also established a dowry for Catherine of 200,000 crowns. This was a good deal for Henry. At that time, England and Wales had a combined population of only two and a half million, compared to Castile and Aragon's seven and a half million and France's fifteen million. Ferdinand's motivation was that Spanish merchants wishing to reach Holland needed the protection of English ports if France was barred to them. The English also still controlled the port of Calais in northern France. However, marriage was not guaranteed. As David Loades points out:

"The marriage of a ruler was the highest level of the marriage game and carried the greatest risks, but it was not the only level. Both sons and daughters were pieces to be moved in the diplomatic game, which usually began when they were still in their cradles. A daughter, in particular, could submit to half a dozen engagements in the interest of changing policy before her fate finally caught up with her."

In August 1497, Catherine and Arthur were formally betrothed at the old palace at Woodstock. The Spanish ambassador, Roderigo de Puebla, proxy for the bride. Catherine's arrival was delayed until Prince Arthur could consummate the marriage. Catherine was also encouraged to learn French, as few people at the English court spoke Spanish or Latin. Queen Elizabeth also suggested that she get used to drinking wine, as the water in England was not drinkable. Catherine and Prince Arthur wrote several letters to each other. In October 1499, Arthur wrote to her thanking her for the "sweet letters" she had sent him:

"I cannot tell you the sincere desire I feel to see Your Highness, and how vexatious it is to me this procrastination with your coming. make haste, so that the love conceived between us and the joys desired may reap its own fruits."

Catarina left the port of A Coruña on July 20, 1501. Her group included the count and countess of Cabra, a chamberlain, Juan de Diero, Catherine's chaplain, Alessandro Geraldini, three bishops, and several ladies, gentlemen, and servants. It was considered too dangerous to allow Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile to make the journey. The sea crossing was terrible: a violent storm blew up in the Bay of Biscay, and the ship was shaken for several days in rough seas and the captain was forced to return to Spain. It was not until September 27 that the winds ceased and Catherine was able to leave Laredo, on the Castilian coast. Catherine of Aragon arrived in England on October 2, 1501. Arthur was only fifteen and Catherine was almost sixteen. As a Castilian bride of noble birth, Catherine remained veiled to both her husband and father-in-law until after the wedding ceremony. Henry would be concerned about her size. She was described as "extremely short, even tiny." Henry could not complain, for Arthur, now fifteen, was very small and undeveloped and was "half a head shorter" than Catherine. He was also described as having an "unhealthy" skin color.

Arthur and Catherine were married on November 14, 1501, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. That night, when Arthur lifted Catherine's veil, he discovered a girl with "fair skin, rich reddish-gold hair that fell below hip level, and blue eyes. Her naturally rosy cheeks and white skin were features much admired during the Tudor period. Contemporary sources state that "she was also chubby but then a pleasing rounded shape in youth was considered desirable in this period, an indicator for future fertility." The couple spent the first month of their marriage at Tickenhill Manor. Arthur wrote to Catherine's parents telling them how happy he was and assuring them that he would be "a true and loving husband all his days." They then moved to Ludlow Castle. Arthur was in poor health and according to William Thomas, Bridegroom of his Privy Chamber, he was trying too hard. He later recalled that he "drove him dressed in his nightgown to the door of the princess's chamber many and several times."

Alison Weir argued that Arthur was suffering from tuberculosis: "There was concern about the prince's delicate health. He seemed to have had tuberculosis and had been weaker since the wedding. The king believed, as did most other people, that Arthur had been overdoing it on the marital bed. " Almost thirty years later, Catherine testified under the seal of the confessional that they had shared a bed for no more than seven nights, and that she had remained "as intact and uncorrupted as when she emerged from her mother's womb."

Antonia Fraser, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992), has argued that she believes the marriage was not consummated. "At a time when marriages were often entered into for reasons of status between children or those oscillating between childhood and adolescence, more care, not less, was taken at the time of consummation. Once the marriage was officially concluded, some years might pass before the appropriate moment was considered to have arrived. Anxious reports might pass between ambassadors about physical development; royal parents might hear advice about preparing their children for the ordeal. The comments - sometimes reminiscent of one of those breeders discussing purebred mating and the comparison is actually not that far off. The generation of offspring was the next essential step in these royal marriages, so endlessly negotiated. " Fraser goes on to argue that the Tudors believed that having children too young could hurt their chances of having more children. For example, Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, was only thirteen when she had him and never had any other children during four marriages.

On March 27, 1502, Arthur fell seriously ill. Based on the description of symptoms by his servants, he seemed to have suffered from bronchial or pulmonary problems, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, or some virulent form of influenza. David Starkey suggested that he may have suffered from testicular cancer. Antonia Fraser believes that since Catherine also fell ill around the same time, the two may have had sweats. Prince Arthur died on, April 2, 1502. Elizabeth of York told Henry that she was still young enough to have more children. She became pregnant again and had a daughter, Catherine was born prematurely on February 2, 1503. She never recovered and died nine days later, on February 11, her thirty-seventh birthday, of puerperal fever. Henry took her death very badly and "departed to a lonely place and no man should have recourse to him."

Christopher Morris, the author of The Tudors (1955) argued:

"Henry VII ... was an extremely intelligent man, possibly the most intelligent man who ever sat on the English throne ... Henry's genius was primarily a genius for cautious maneuvering , for precise timing, for delicate negotiation, for weighing an opponent or a subordinate, and not least, a genius for organization. He was allied with great patience and great work. He was a competent soldier, but always chose peace over war as being much cheaper and safer. These are admirable and invaluable qualities for a political leader in difficult times."

Henry VII was careful in selecting his top officials. During his reign, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley became the king's most trusted ministers. Jasper Ridley pointed out that Empson and Dudley were the main instruments of the king's financial policy: "They seem to have been almost universally hated throughout England. They were accused of acting illegally when they extorted large sums of money from wealthy landowners under the recognition system, and not only obtaining that money for the king, but enriching themselves in the process. "Christopher Morris, the author of The Tudors (1955), suggested that Dudley was the king's "most unpopular and unscrupulous minister." Empson's biographer, Margaret Condon, pointed out:

"As chancellor, Empson continued Bray's efforts to increase revenue by authorizing rent increases or rejecting rebates and directing surveys and audits, confinements of common property, and investigations of feudal incidents. The drive to maximize feudal revenue, pursue old titles, and manipulate the criminal laws in the king's interest was centered on learned counsel, even in cases where parallel actions were prosecuted at common law .... The methods he used included the use of prosecutors; imprisonment to facilitate settlement by fine or composition; and subpoenas issued (as in other municipal courts) by private secrecy ... His particular responsibilities were the authorization of pardons, initialed by the king; the discovery and passage of intrusions and the issuance of commissions of concealment; pardons and forfeitures on illegality; protections and uniforms of land. Most actions or grants of grace resulted in fines for the king, in amounts and by methods that led Polydore Vergil and others to characterize Empson and Dudley as extortioners."

Roger Lockyer has argued that "Empson was the only prominent member of Henry's Council of bourgeois origin-his father was a person of some importance in the town of Towcester, and the idea that Henry VII surrounded himself with 'middle-class men' is very misleading. The petty nobility, whose numbers and importance in the royal administration were constantly increasing, were close in blood and social assumptions to the aristocracy and considered themselves among the upper echelons of English society."

Henry VII was keen to maintain his alliance with Ferdinand of Aragon and, recently widowed, offered to marry Catherine of Aragon. Since he was 46 years old and in poor health, this idea was rejected and on June 23, 1503, he signed a new treaty that betrothed Catherine to Henry, his only surviving son, then 12 years old. The treaty also contained an agreement that since the parties were related, the signatories were committed to obtaining the necessary dispensation from Rome. At that time, Christians believed that it was wrong for a man to marry his brother's wife. It was also agreed that the marriage would take place as soon as Henry turned fifteen. In the meantime, Henry granted Catherine £100 per month and appointed one of his own surveyors to oversee the management. Henry wrote on August 23, 1503:

"It is well known in England that the princess is still a virgin. But as the English are very willing to complain, it seemed more prudent to handle the case as if the marriage had been consummated ... the Pope's dispensation must be in perfect accord with the aforementioned clause of the marriage treaty ... The right of succession (of any child born to Catherine and Henry) depends upon the undoubted legitimacy of the treaty."

Catherine was allocated to Durham House in London. She was frequently ill, probably with tertiary malaria. Her knowledge of English was still imperfect in 1505, which annoyed Ferdinand of Aragon and Henry VII, who reduced her allowance. Catherine moved to Richmond Palace, but complained to her father about her poverty and her inability to pay her servants and her degrading dependence on Henry's charity. She told her father that she had only been able to buy two dresses since coming to England from Spain six years earlier.

Catherine was kept away from Prince Henry, complaining in 1507 that she had not seen him for four months, although they both lived in the same palace. It was argued that it was Henry VII who was keeping his son away from Catherine:

"Observers were really struck by the way Prince Henry lived entirely under his father's rule, living in virtual seclusion; the king, either out of fear for his son's safety or from an irritable habit of domination, arranged every detail of his life."

King Ferdinand feared that Catherine would not be allowed to marry Henry, who was becoming a handsome prince. Roderigo of Puebla told Ferdinand, "There is no better young man in the world than the Prince of Wales." He told him that his striking appearance, including his strong athletic limbs "of a gigantic size," was already beginning to arouse the admiration of the Royal Court. Henry VII died on April 21, 1509. His personal fortune of £1.5 million illustrated the success of his foreign policy and the commercial prosperity England enjoyed under his rule.

Henry's entire youth had been spent in conditions of adversity, often in danger of treachery and death, and generally in a state of poverty. These experiences, together with the uncertainties of his reign, taught him to be reserved and cautious, to subordinate his passions and affections to calculation and policy, to be always patient and vigilant. There is evidence that he was interested in study, that he could be affable and gracious, and that he disliked bloodshed and severity, but all these emotions had to give way to the needs of survival. The existing portraits and descriptions suggest a tired and anxious man with small blue eyes, bad teeth, and fine white hair. His experiences and needs also made him acquisitive, a trait that increased with age, an advantageous trait for both the crown and the kingdom.


  1. Henry VII of England
  2. Henrique VII de Inglaterra
  3. Morrill, Myers, John S. Morrill, Alexander Reginald Myers (12 de maio de 2020). «Henry VII KING OF ENGLAND». Consultado em 12 de maio de 2020
  4. a b Editores 1998.
  5. ^ a b c Gairdner, p. 76.
  6. ^ (EN) John Ashdown Hill, The Wars of the Roses, Stroud, Amberley, 2017, p. 280.
  7. ^ (EN) Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, su Tudorhistory.org. URL consultato il 17 aprile 2015 (archiviato dall'url originale il 1º aprile 2010).
  8. ^ Chrimes 1972, p. 5.
  9. ^ (EN) Edmund and Jasper Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, su Tudorhistory.com. URL consultato il 17 aprile 2015 (archiviato dall'url originale il 18 aprile 2015).
  10. ^ a Royal house of Welsh-French origin
  11. ^ Roland de Velville (or Veleville), who was knighted in 1497 and was Constable of Beaumaris Castle, is sometimes presented as the clear "illegitimate issue" of Henry VII of England by "a Breton lady whose name is not known". The possibility this was Henry's illegitimate son is baseless.[82]
  12. Rowse 1998, p. 215
  13. La langue bretonne des origines à nos jours - Serge Plénier-Éditions Ouest France
  14. Ross 1999, p. 105-111.
  15. Ross 1999, p. 112-115.

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