Henry VII, a Deserving King

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

The Tudor Monarchy

The concept of the Tudor monarchy commonly lies in the association with Henry VIII whose tyrannous reign is famous for marriages, monasteries and military missions. However, it can be agreed that the predecessor King deserves more recognition for his achievements that makes Henry VIII seem fallible.

Henry VII and the beginnings of a dynasty

Henry VII (c) Society of Antiquaries of London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Henry VII grew up in exile in Brittany during the extensive struggle between the Lancastrians and Yorkists. Henry VII’s claim to the throne lay in his mother’s heritage that was deemed a pitiful connection between the throne and the claimant. After seizing the crown from the Plantagenet King, Richard III, a new dynasty began. The Battle of Bosworth field on the 22nd August 1485 sprouted a flower of red and white; Henry VII masterfully married Elizabeth of York which intertwined the conflicting families and brought peace to England. This idea from Henry VII demonstrates how intelligent this new King was: He enabled to secure a dynasty by a marriage and begin to create a succession line for the future. In contrast to Henry VIII whose multitude of failed marriages and attempted divorces, Henry VII undoubtedly crafted the Tudor phenomena.

Henry VII was a more deserving King through his foreign policy aims to secure international peace and to establish common alliances. The efforts with the key foreign powers such as

Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire fuelled England’s drive to the world stage. For example, the Treaty of Medina Del Campo in 1489 secured mutual protection, a marriage between Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon as well as a trade agreement. This demonstrates Henry VII’s significant efforts to secure peace, economic prosperity and a strong throne. Henry VIII on the other hand caused a catalyst of wars in Europe that led to the breakdown of Henry VII’s successful achievements, such as the erosion of the 1492 Treaty of Etaples in 1513 after capturing Tournai and Thérouanne at the Battle of Spurs. This highlights the distance between these two monarchs. Henry VIII who’s famous for his military efforts falls into his father’s shadow of victories. Henry VII also created a new change in English society.

Elizabeth of York

Distrust of the nobles cemented a path for the emergence of a new middle class. Henry VII can be noted for making “room for the growing influence of the mighty middle class, in which our modern civilization, with its faults and its merits, has established its stronghold” (W. Campbell). Henry VII’s economic policies, such as the Acts of Attainder or the Bonds and Recognizances reduced the hierarchal unbalance in society.

This further enabled the growth of new ideas such as the cultures and concepts of Humanism, as exercised by Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus. Thus, Henry VII arguably created a more successful change in society compared to his son due to better opportunities and representation universally. Henry VIII caused one of the most significant religious disrupt in British history that did not impacted society in a different way. Therefore, Henry VII deserves more recognition for sustaining society in a world of Renaissance.

Henry VII, an intelligent and tactful King

Treaty between King Philip and Henry VII (ref der weisskunig c44fc9-1600)

From this, it can ultimately be agreed that Henry VII’s reign highlights the limitations of the more famous Henry VIII. It cannot be forgotten that Henry VII was at the forefront of societal and foreign change and this created the perfect environment for his son to emerge on the throne in. “His spirit was distinguished, wise and prudent; his mind was brave and resolute and never, even at moments of the greatest danger, deserted him” – Polydore Vergil. Henry VII’s tactful manner and intelligent mind meant that he was undoubtedly the better King due to his unswerving determination to transform England into a blend of harmony, wealth and social success. Thus, Henry VII deserves more recognition as the founder of the Tudor dynasty.

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By Rachel Wren

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