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Henry VII (The English Monarchs Series) Paperback – 4 Jun 1999
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A study of the life and reign of Henry VII. S.B. Chrimes explores the circumstances surrounding Henry's acquisition of the throne, examines the personnel and machinery of government, and surveys the king's social, political and economic policies, law enforcement and foreign strategy.
About the Author
S. B. Chrimes was from 1953 to 1974 head of the department of history at University College, Cardiff, the University of Wales. George Bernard is reader in Tudor history at the University of Southampton.
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Slightly heavy at times, but definately worth it!
Henry was born at Pembroke Castle, Wales in 1457, the only son of Edmund Tudor, half-brother of King Henry VI and Earl of Richmond, and Lady Margaret Beaufort, the heiress of the house of Lancaster. In exile since 1471 he defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485 and became king. Henry's claim to the throne derived from his mother as a descandent of John of Gaunt, thrid son of Edward III. His claim was somewhat tenuous; it was based upon a lineage of illegitimate succession, and overlooked the fact that the Beauforts had been disinherited by Letters Patent of King Henry IV. He also honoured his pledge of December 1483 to marry Elizabeth of York, daughter and heir of King Edward IV. The marriage took place on January 18, 1486 at Westminster. The marriage unified the warring houses and gave his children a stronger claim to the throne. The unification of the houses of York and Lancaster by Henry VII's marriage to Elizabeth of York is represented in the heraldic symbol of the Tudor rose, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.
Henry's main concern was to strengthen the weak monachry after the War of the Roses, a civil war of the high nobility which ahs ruined England. Bringing the nobility to heel was one of the most difficult tasks, but he succeeded. Thinking about how modern politicians struggle to bring a country back from civil war this is no meagre achievment. Henry VII's policy was both to maintain peace and to create economic prosperity.Henry VII was a fiscally prudent monarch who restored the fortunes of an effectively bankrupt exchequer by introducing ruthlessly efficient mechanisms of taxation. In this he was supported by his chancellor, Archbishop John Morton, whose "Morton's Fork" was a catch 22 method of ensuring that nobles paid increased taxes. The household staff rose beyond mere servitude: Henry eschewed public appearances, therefore, staff members were the few persons Henry saw on a regular basis. He created the Committee of the Privy Council ,a forerunner of the modern cabinet) as an executive advisory board; he established the Court of the Star Chamber to increase royal involvement in civil and criminal cases; and as an alternative to a revenue tax disbursement from Parliament, he imposed forced loans and grants on the nobility. He survived the Lovell Rebellion of 1486, the Perkin and Lambert threats. His name is however involved in the mystery of the Princes in the Tower.
The English Monarchs series has brought the highest standards of historical scholarship to the widest possible readership. Professor Chrimes's biography of Henry VII fits neatly into this programme and is properly the best to date about this king. It is a scholary assessment, reliable, trustworthy and full. But do not expect an easy read. Somehow it fits this king and his personality. It is an rewarding read and one admires him for his work, but one can not love him. He healed England and without him the popular appealing reign of Henry VIII would not be possible. He left the crown and England stronger. Henry VIII plunged England into a more dangerous devide than the civil war of the War of the Roses, a divide along the line of religion.Henry VII deserves more attention, but I am afraid that in a celebrity culture of today that is hardly ever forthcoming. This book restores him to his rightful place in history.
The last word should his earlier biographer Francis Bacon: "He was of a high mind, and loved his own will and his own way; as one that revered himself, and would reign indeed. Had he been a private man he would have been termed proud: But in a wise Prince, it was but keeping of distance; which indeed he did towards all; not admitting any near or full approach either to his power or to his secrets. For he was governed by none"
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