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Securing the Tudor Dynasty: The Reign of Henry VII Essay

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a) What can you learn from this source about the aims of the Spanish rulers in their negotiations with Henry VII in 1497?

The Spanish rulers wish to improve trading relations with England by lowering duties on goods brought into England from Spain “The duties on goods brought into England from Spain should be lowered”.

The King and Queen of Spain want to form an alliance with England, we know this will be a defensive alliance against France. “There must be an alliance”.

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The Spanish rulers are also keen to seal this alliance by marrying their daughter with Arthur, HenryVII’s son, this has the advantage of gaining more trust with England to make sure the alliance does not fall apart as easily as it might. “asked the Pope to allow the marriage”.

b) Explain in what ways ‘Lambert Simnel’ and ‘Perkin Warbeck’ threatened Henry VII.

Simnel and Warbeck themselves were no threat to Henry, however due to the lack of claimants to the English throne, they were used as pawns by mightier Yorkist sympathisers to act as pretenders to the English throne and usurp Henry. Simnel made the threat from foreign powers more prevalent i.e. Margaret of Burgundy and Gerald of Kildare in Ireland who readily supported even a barely credible claimant such as Simnel. This is shown by the 2000 German mercenaries led by Martin Schwarz employed by Margaret of Burgundy.

Warbeck also complicated matters by involving foreign powers, however Warbeck also managed to threaten English trade. I.e. Henry felt so threatened by Warbeck’s presence in the Dutch court of Phillip of Burgundy that he slapped a trade embargo on the Low Countries. This shows how endangered Henry must have felt over Warbeck’s potential threat, because powerful foreign figures were seen to supporting him, and England at this point was not strong enough to withstand an invasion army, which may could have happened.

c) What evidence in Source 1 supports the view of the authors of Source 5 that ‘dynastic threats dominated Henry’s dealings with foreign powers’.

Source 5 seems to stress emphasis on how pretenders to the English throne were so threatening to Henry and his dynasty, especially as they involved foreign powers “his succession against a series of claimants”. This is supported by Source 1 as it agrees that neither country should aid rebels from the other country, this is most certainly a term that Henry would have been most keen to include in the alliance. This is shown by other treaties, for example with Burgundy and France who also agree not to harbour English rebels. “Neither country shall give any help to rebels”. Therefore the view that dynastic threats dominated Henry’s foreign policy is correct according to this Treaty of Medina Del Campo as Henry is trying to neutralise the claimants threat through foreign powers.

Dynastic interests quoted from Source 5 can also be seen in the defensive alliance against any country that decides to invade either country, this basically means a defensive alliance against France, and shows that Henry was keen to protect his dynasty from invasion. “defend against any enemy”. In practice this term makes the French threat traditionally coming through Scotland less threatening because now Henry has a powerful ally and so Henry has reduced a threat to his dynasty. The actual treaty itself is also very defensive in nature, this suggests that both countries but especially Henry was far more concerned about the stability of his throne than any advantages that could be made on the continent. “assist in defending”.

The word dynastic used in source 5 is also crucial, because Henry is not only looking to protect his own reign, but also the future of his Tudor dynasty. This is very prevalent in the treaty of Medina Del Campo, were it negotiates peace and to help each other out, not only for Henry and the Spanish rulers, but also for both their heirs. “Henry, and his heirs and successors”. This supports the statement that Henry is looking out for his Tudor dynasty against threats towards them.

d) How useful are these sources to a historian studying the importance of royal marriages to the stability of the monarchy in the reign of Henry VII?

e) Do you agree that foreign support was the central reason why Henry VII was able to ‘secure the throne’? Explain your answer, using the sources and your own knowledge.

I am not in total agreement with this statement, although foreign support can be seen to aid Henry, by not supporting pretenders. Foreign powers can also be seen to support pretenders, which reduced the stability of Henry’s throne. The main reason for why Henry was able to secure his throne was his own domestic policy that ensured the obedience of his followers in particular the Nobles, who were needed to enforce Henry’s power into the localities. Foreign policy took second priority to this, especially at the start of his reign, so can only seen to be a contributory factor for Henry to secure the throne. However factors such as Henry’s network of agents and his financial security cannot be overlooked when considering the way in which Henry VII secured his throne.

Henry’s diplomatic skills created valuable alliances with foreign powers, that reduced the threat from pretenders that plagued Henry’s aim to gain total stability especially in the early part of his reign i.e. pre 1499. For example the Truce of Etaples in 1492 was negotiated with France, and consequently France could no longer harbour English rebels. This is very significant as Perkin Warbeck had to flee France and therefore Henry reduced the threat from Warbeck to his throne by using foreign support. The alliance with Spain also showed that foreign support for Henry was instrumental in diminishing the threat from pretenders.

This is because remaining on good terms with one of the super powers in Europe means that they are less likely to support claimants to Henry’s throne, Henry clearly saw the advantages of this and readily made good relations with Spain. For example in source 1 “Neither country shall give any help to rebels from the other country”. Indeed these negotiations between England and the continental powers that may have been seen to be a great achievement especially when taking into consideration the way in which Henry usurped the throne (by foreign support). The alliances also show that the major foreign powers like Spain and France recognise Henry as the rightful ruler of England, which is crucial, especially in the early part of his reign, as it means his right to the throne will not be readily challenged. For example

The argument for foreign support as the primary reason in Henry’s ability to secure his throne becomes more suspect because despite all these advantages gained from foreign support to reduce the threat from pretenders and claimants, which it must be said was the most concerning and consistent threat throughout Henry’s reign, foreign powers can also be seen to support the claimants to the English throne and therefore Henry’s security decreases. The most prevalent example of this throughout Henry’s reign came from the Low Countries and specifically from Margaret of Burgundy.

For example in 1487 Margaret of Burgundy supported Lambert Simnel in his own suspect claim to the throne by sending him 2000 German mercenaries leas by Martin Schwartz. This shows that although foreign support may be beneficial to Henry’s attempt to secure his throne, it can also be detrimental to his position and his dynasty. Therefore foreign support cannot be the main reason why Henry was successful in securing his throne, there is no doubt that foreign support contributes to the way in which Henry was able to stifle the activities of claimants such as Warbeck, Simnel and John de la Pole. However this was more down to Henry’s foreign diplomacy, in the way he managed to manipulate foreign powers to stop supporting rebels. I.e. Archduke Phillip of Burgundy was forced to hand over John de la Pole.

The paramount reason why Henry was able to ‘secure his throne’ was due to the way Henry managed his subjects into a state of complete obedience. Henry used financial restrictions and penalties to secure the loyalty of the Nobles, who Henry needed to enforce his power into the localities. This loyalty gained was instrumental in keeping pretenders like Warbeck and Simnel at bay, because Henry needed his Nobles to fight for him and know that they would not support the claimants. This importance of loyalty is shown in 1597 when Warbeck tried to invade England through Scotland and picked up little at all support especially from any of the Northern Nobles.

Also in the same year the Cornish rebellion gathered only Lord Audley, the only noble of any importance involved in the rebellion. Showing that Henry had acquired the allegiance from his Nobles required to keep his throne stable. Henry’s domestic policy has to take credit for this instated loyalty, with a large slice of luck to accompany it. Henry used such methods as attainders, bonds and recogniances to punish nobles to an extent that no prison or death sentence could ever reach, because the monetary penalty ensured that the Nobles could no longer afford to not be loyal to the king. For example the Earl of Surrey was allowed to govern the North and in return for his loyalty, obedience and success his former lands were returned to him.

Henry’s network of agents were employed to hunt out any possible traitors among the Henry’s court of nobles and officials. They are responsible for exposing plots and traitors that threatened the security of Henry’s throne. For example from source 5 it shows their importance “He relied on a network of agents and informers”. This is clearly shown when they exposed Sir William Stanley as involved in a plot with Perkin Warbeck, he was duely executed. Also Henry’s agents were responsible for the failure of Warbeck’s landing at Deale. They are obviously an important aspect of Henry’s tactic to avoid being usurped and to secure the obedience of his followers and therefore securing his throne.

Henry’s foreign policy was realistic it offered the opportunity for Henry to use alliances with continental powers to reduce the threat from claimants to his throne. However the ever-changing foreign climate, especially after the death of Arthur (1502) and Isabella (1504) showed how foreign support was too volatile to rely on, and the disadvantages from foreign support when it was not in Henry’s favour were all to clear to see, and the stability of Henry’s throne must have been under pressure. This is why it was crucial that Henry kept the support of his followers especially the nobles. Methods such as attainders etc and the close scrutiny from Henry’s agents kept his nobles in check and made sure that no claimant or rebellion could substantiate into a large attack on Henrician England, because any threat needed noble support to give their uprising sufficient numbers.

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