HenryTudor , Earl of Richmond was officially crowned King Henry VII of England. At the time, there were at least twenty other people with a better claim to the throne, one of them being his predecessor Richard III. His claim to the throne was supported assisduously both before and after the coronation by his mother Margaret Beaufort (immortalised by David Starkey as the mother in law from Hell). Oops. Now I’ve gone and done it. Might just as well get a white rose border for my blog page. In all honesty though, my Ricardian credentials are modest – they certainly wouldn’t allow me to last long in the Richard III Society. I certainly don’t keep Sharon Penman‘s ‘Sunne in Splendour‘ with the reverence accorded by some to the Bible, but neither d0 I think Richard was a hunch-backed monster who murdered his nephews to get the crown. The truth, as with most things, lies somewhere in between. But I digress. Henry Tudor got round the minor issue of deposing an annointed king by the simple expedient of dating his reign from the day before the Battle of Bosworth. Richard and all who followed him thus became traitors automatically, their lands forfeit to the crown.
Henry’s reign began with rebellion and political uncertainty. He had been a refugee for most of his life before 1485, dependent on the kindness of strangers and ever aware that he could be murdered, imprisioned or used as a pawn in the power plays of others. He saw Yorkist rebellion under just about every stone (with some justification) until 1499 at least. The last ten years of his life were marked by increasing tyranny (well documented by Thomas Penn in his book ‘Winter King’) and the death of his eldest son Arthur, the bright new Renaissance prince whose role it had been to cement the fortunes of the new dynasty. That job would now fall to his second son, Prince Henry.
At his death in 1509 he left behind an economically strong and prosperous kingdom and a very full treasury. The latter would be made full, if not profligate use of by his successor. In comparison with his predecessors Henry often seems a cold, calculating and colourless man – his weapon of choice being the law rather than the sword. In fairness though he was the first of the early modern kings and his preference for law, trade and political alliance over war and conquest clearly marks him out as such.