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The years 1509 – 1515 Essay

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‘The years 1509 – 1515 shows far more continuity than change in comparison to Henry VII’s reign.’ To what extent do you agree with this statement?

It was quite a big step in Tudor history to step from the enigmatic, meticulous Henry VII to his son; the fun-loving, appearance obsessed Henry VIII – and it is this step between two kings of contrasting personas that causes change in the Tudor kingdom, especially in cases such as the treatment of nobles, and the renewing of war/foreign policy.

As already mentioned, Henry VIII was appearance obsessed. He cared about how people thought of him, his popularity, and his position of king – this contrasts Henry VII, as although Henry VII too cared about his position of king, his actions, such as his seizure of land and money, showed he cared little about his popularity. Due to his obsession with his popularity with the people and the aristocracy, he dismissed many of his father’s actions and sought to lead himself away from his shadow and show to the people that he was his own king – thereby removing the disapproval many of the citizens had to Henry VII’s harsh and swift actions.

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Such dismissals included the imprisonment and execution of Edmund and Dudley – two infamous money collectors who worked for Henry VII and caused great disapproval from the people; due to this disapproval, when Henry VIII removed Edmund and Dudley from power, it showed – or merely just gave the appearance – that he was the “people’s” king and cared for them, thereby increasing his popularity amongst them; contrasting Henry VII who cared little and did all he could to keep the financial status of the government up and running. By the incident of Edmund and Dudley – and some others, such as the cancellation of most bonds – we see that Henry VIII isn’t all as carefree as portrayed, he is actually intelligent enough to manipulate and use what his father left him in order to gain favour, even though it was not intended for that purpose.

Keeping in line with Henry VIII wanting to step out from his father’s reign and ideas, when he came to power, he picked his own men when he came to power. It was these men who would basically run the country as Henry VIII was too uninterested to do it himself. This contrasts greatly with his father, because Henry VII took his government under his wing and did all he could to help it, however, this could also be seen by the view of the government was already self-sufficient from Henry VII’s reign when it was passed onto Henry VII, so not much had to be done. One huge player in the governing of the government was Thomas Cardinal Wolsey. He was the legal administrator and played a great role in changing the legal system and the church, both very influential and power contained sectors of the country. The fact that Henry took Wolsey as his chief advisor gave Wolsey great power. In fact, in one of Wolsey’s letters to Henry, he states:

“And for as it should be painful to your Grace to sit and over read the whole treaty, I shall therefore summarily note and take out the substantial effect and points thereof…”

He point out that he will summarise the events in Henry’s country, but we can defer from this that Henry VIII was lazy in his role and the fact that he had a chief advisor contrasts Henry VII, as he Henry VII read over the events of the kingdom and had many advisors, but made the decision himself.

The method in which Henry VIII sought to establish his dynasty is subjective in whether it was a change or continuity. First of all, we must focus on the foreign aspect in which he wished to establish his role and position abroad as king. Henry VII justified his attempted invasion of France as securing what was rightfully his, he was opposing his advisors who sought to avoid the war as they realised it would be a huge blow on the economy and welfare of the state – Henry, however, saw the war as a way to prove that he had the warrior inside of him as well as a statesman, as that was seen as what was needed to hold the position as king. The renewal of the 100 year war with France can be seen as both a change and continuity.

First of all, and this is what I believe, the fact that Henry VIII went to war with France through no provocation upon himself or the country during his reign contrasts with Henry VII, as Henry VII did not have any wars outside of securing his own position during his reign – the other view is that Henry VII also used military tactics and waged war at the Battle of Bosworth to secure his position as king, and this can be related with Henry VIII waging war with France, however, the Battle of Bosworth is in its own category, because the events at Bosworth was to secure the throne and establish Henry VII as king, but Henry VIII is already king and has no need for France at all – so a change in wanting what is not needed, Henry VII’s greed, and his obsession with securing his appearance is shown through his actions with France.

Relating with foreign policy, there seems to be some continuity with his alliances when compared to Henry VII. In Europe at the time of Henry VIII, Spain and France were the two big players, Henry VIII saw this and immediately married Catherine of Aragorn when he came to power, thereby securing an alliance with Spain and being able to invade France easier. This marriage is similar with Henry VII’s marriage with Elizabeth of York when he came to power in an attempt to end the War of the Roses and secure an alliance with York.

However, even though both kings marry in order to gain alliances, the basis on which the alliance is needed is completely different, therefore showing a change between the two – Henry VIII needed alliances with Spain in order to establish his reign across Europe and be in a strong position to carry out his invasion of France, whilst Henry VII just sought to unite York and Lancaster, therefore securing his reign within his own country, also, Henry VII was content with the annual �5000 he was receiving from France.

Coming to the Local and Central government, the treatment of the nobles differed greatly between the two kings. In the reign of Henry VII, the nobles were ruled over by fear and authority – the king passed laws such as the act of attainder which meant that land and money could be taken, the swift authority was what kept over-mighty and treacherous nobles at bay. On the other hand, Henry VIII was very generous and gave money, land and aristocratic out to the nobles in an attempt to gain popularity with them, therefore securing his position as king. This did gain popularity with Henry VIII as opposed to Henry VII, but it also meant that the power of the nobles increased, which increased the potential risk of over-mighty nobles again uprising, which Henry VII sought to get rid of.

Henry made most of his decision based on the favour of the people – due his nature. Therefore, he made many forced loans – similar to his father – in order to carry out his plans to help domestically. One of these plans was to increase the army which protected the people from foreign invasions, and the navy which was feared by the foreigners – incidentally, Henry VIII also used the money he received from loans to make improvements to navigation and the navy; this is continuing from Henry VII as Henry VII also showed interest and invested in helping the navy.

As aforementioned, Henry VIII gave money out to nobles and was very care-free in his spending, because of this, the financial and economy sector of the country took a huge blow – with popularity came expenses. This is a huge change from Henry VII as his avarice was his pride and he was very meticulous and tight with his spending. The war with France also required a lot of money which meant that Henry VIII would be very low in finances and his popularity would decrease slightly.

All in all, there doesn’t seem to be much continuity in the reign of Henry VIII when compared to Henry VII. There were many dramatic changes such as the treatment of nobles, war and foreign relations, and domestic popularity which showed just how much Henry VIII sought to change his ways from his father. Whether it was for the best of the country is subjective to the thinker, but in the end, both kings wanted the same thing which was to secure their Tudor dynasty, and it is clear that Henry VII did this much better than Henry VIII as there were less wars, no financial problems, and the nobles were kept at bay without expenditure on the king’s behalf – which of course shows just how much Henry VII was different to Henry VIII in his reign as king.

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