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King Henry VII - A More Peaceful Reign for England

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King Henry VII and his Advisors

Image source: Wikimedia

King Henry VII (1457-1509)

King Henry VII was a wise king and his reign finally brought a time of peace to England after the wars of the Roses ended after more than 30 years with King Richard III's death at the battle of Bosworth. One of his clever and popular decisions was to marry his cousin Elizabeth, sister of King Edward V who was murdered in the Tower of London in 1483 while only thirteen years old. This was the beginning of happier times as Henry was also king of the Red Rose party and Elizabeth was queen of the White Rose party.

Henry was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales on 28 January 1457 and was a popular king during the early part of his reign, but he did have some people around him who wished to be disruptive and annoy him. Lambert Simnel was persuaded to claim that he was the Earl of Warwick therefore the son of the Duke of Clarence who was previously killed in the Tower of London, and that he had avoided being killed with the Duke in the Tower by hiding until his uncle Richard was dead. He asserted that he had a right to be king of England by succession. Lambert had some Englishmen and a great number of Irish followers so he decided to meet King Henry VII in battle at Stoke to contest the throne. However, his army was defeated and although Lambert was taken prisoner he was not treated harshly by Henry.

Another young man called Perkin Warbeck was persuaded by some of Henry's enemies to call himself Richard, Duke of York and claim that he had been spared from being murdered when his young brother, King Edward V, was killed on King Richard III's orders. King Henry VII knew this was not true and Warbeck continued his assertions by going to Scotland and marrying the king's cousin Catharine Gordon. This enabled him to return to England with a Scottish army in support. After causing a lot of trouble in the north of England Warbeck and his army were eventually defeated by Henry's forces. Perkin Warbeck was eventually hanged at Tyburn.

Peace once more returned to England and people started to enjoy life again. Reading and learning now became popular as a new way of printing books had been discovered and, of course, there was no more fighting. It was also a time of great discoveries across the seas. The English marvelled at many of the things brought back to England by adventurous and brave sailors.

Henry's wife, Eliabeth of York, was now dead but she had four children - Arthur, Henry, Mary and Margaret. Arthur died in 1502 possibly of tuberculosis so Henry was to become the next king, Mary became Queen of France, and Margaret became Queen of Scotland. Immediately after Elizabeth's death in childbirth when she was only thirty-seven years of age, King Henry VII became a changed man with the deaths in quick succession, he was grief-stricken, very sick and nearly died himself, and only allowed Margaret Beaufort, his mother, near him.

King Henry VII was a clever and sincere man but his biggest fault was a fondness of money and the ways he made his subjects pay for projects. He spent very little on himself and others, but did spend a lot of money building Richmond Palace and adding a beautiful chapel to Westminster Abbey.

Henry VII died at Richmond Palace on 21 April 1509 of tuberculosis in bed and was buried at Westminster Abbey, next to his beloved wife, Elizabeth, in the magnificent chapel he commissioned. He was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII. His mother survived him, dying two months later on 29 June 1509.

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