Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: King Henry VII of England

     This Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History is King Henry VII of England (as in father of Henry VIII). He was the last king of England to assume the throne by right of conquest when he defeated Richard III at 

Bust of Henry VII

 

Bosworth Field in 1485. His father Edmund was the son of the widowed Queen Catherine Valois by a liaison with a member of her household, Owen Tudor. Through his mother, Henry was also descended from John of Gaunt (Edward III’s son), through the latter’s illicit affair with Catherine Swynford.
     Edmund, the Earl of Richmond, married Margaret Beaufort when she was only twelve years old. Henry was born in 1457 when Margaret was thirteen and after the death of his imprisoned father. Although Margaret married twice again, she never had more children and participated little in raising Henry. Henry’s uncle, Jasper, was primarily responsible for raising him and arranging the diplomatic ties that gained him the throne.
     Henry married Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV and great-granddaughter (on the legitimate side of the blanket) in 1486—but crowned her his Queen 

Elizabeth of York

 

 only after she produced a male heir. The unification of the houses of York and Lancaster by the marriage is symbolized by the heraldic emblem of the Tudor rose, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.
     After he disposed of the Pretenders to the English throne through execution (Lambert Simnel) and demotion to the kitchen (Perking Warbeck), Henry began a series of innovations that strengthened the monarchy by weakening the power of the nobility. He established the Court of the Star Chamber to increase royal involvement in civil and criminal cases. As an alternative to a revenue tax disbursement from Parliament, he imposed forced loans and grants on the nobility. He also created the Committee of the Privy Council as an executive advisory board, a forerunner of the modern cabinet.
      Henry was not popular with the common people and was regarded as grasping and stingy. He subsidized ship building and entering into lucrative trade agreements to increase the wealth of both crown and nation. He also enacted laws against livery and maintenance, the great lords’ practice of having large numbers of “retainers” who wore their lord’s badge or uniform and formed a potential private army. The laws were used to levy fines on those that he perceived as threats and to increase the wealth of the Tudors.
     Henry’s marriage which was reportedly successful produced four surviving children: Arthur, Henry, Margaret and Mary. Arthur married Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. When Arthur died within months, Henry-though personally devastated-secured a papal dispensation for Catherine to marry Arthur’s brother, the future Henry VIII. The marriage of Henry’s daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland connected the royal families of both England and Scotland led to the Stuarts claims to the English throne. His other daughter, Mary, married first the heir of France and later the Duke of Brandon (the ancestors of Lady Jane Grey). 

The Royal Family

Prince Arthur

 

     Elizabeth who had a mother-in-law from hell in Margaret Beaufort had little political influence but the couple cared for each other. When their son Arthur died-leaving only one son, she became pregnant again to insure the succession. Unfortunately, in 1503 she died from a postpartum infection and her daughter died also. Her otherwise cheap husband spared no expense at her funeral. Henry did not remarry and he lies next to Elizabeth in his chapel in Westminster. By the time of his death in 1509, he had amassed a personal fortune of £1.25 million (£648 million as of 2010). Next week, more Tudors. RitaVF

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4 Responses

  1. Spared no expense at her funeral, did he? Can’t help but wonder his reasoning.

    That’s what sets your posts apart, Rita. It makes one itch to research further and find out the whys and wherefores. I can’t help but feel sorry for the women of that era. Most times they were nothing more than bargaining chips or political tools to be used by their families.

    SO glad I didn’t live back then! I’d have been on the run or locked in a tower somewhere, ’cause I sure couldn’t have ‘obeyed’ or been that blindly dutiful! On second thought, I’d definitely have been on the run! I’m claustrophobic! lol

  2. I agree with Runere- I’d have been beheaded for heresy or something, too! LOL!

  3. Rita,

    Wonderful post. But I have to agree with Runere and sfcatty. Weren’t there any ‘stand up, get in your face and I’m doing what I want ‘ women. Oh, I know they were considered much inferior to men in all ways, but there had to be a few (other than Elizabeth I) who did it their way. Wasn’t one of the Montgomery women exceptional….The facts make the women in the historical romance novels real fiction.

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