Henry VII had it all – wealth and connections that helped secure his unsteady throne – and the essential heir and a spare.
Unfortunately Arthur – Henry’s oldest prince – died in 1502. The king’s beloved queen Elizabeth of York died in 1503. She had been a kind and loving wife and mother. Henry, the younger son, had been groomed for a different path and an aging, widowed and grieving father didn’t have many years to prepare him for the throne.
Henry VII died of tuberculosis at Richmond Palace on 22 April, 1509. In Cassell’s Illustrated History of England (with text by William Howitt) the author describes how the English felt about his reign. “While his father had strengthened the throne, he had made himself extremely unpopular. The longer he lived the more the selfish meanness and the avarice of his character had become conspicuous and excited the disgust of his subjects.”
Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1583 to 1648) was much like Sir Thomas Wyatt in that he was a poet, diplomat and soldier. His book England Under VIII was published the year after his death and is still read today. According to Lord Herbert …
“Nothing is so easie as to reign, if the body of government be well framed.”
Henry VIII was crowned April 22, 1509 at 18 years of age. He took the throne unopposed, a tribute to his father’s zeal. The Tudor reign was secure.
His father’s stinginess left him very well off but he would need guidance. His grandmother Lady Margaret Beaufort knew what her son Henry VII would have wanted.
Howitt wrote “His grandmother, the countess of Richmond and Derby, was highly esteemed for her virtue and prudence, and Henry appeared quite disposed to be guided by her sage experience in the conduct of national affairs. By her advice he continued in his council the men who had been the counsellors of his father. Warham, the archbishop of Canterbury, the earl of Shrewsbury, lord Herbert, Sir Thomas Lovel, Sir Edward Poynings, Sir Henry Marney, Sir Thomas Darcy, and Sir Henry Wyatt, surrounded his council-board, and occupied the chief offices of the state.”
Lord Cherbury listed the ten men in this order:
William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England
Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, Secretary and Lord Privy-Seal
George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord Steward of the King’s Household
Sir Charles Somerset, Lord Herbert, of Gower, Chepstow, and Rayland, Lord Chamberlain
Sir Thomas Lovel, Master of the Wards and Constable of the Tower
Sir Henry Wyat
Thomas Ruthal, Doctor of Law
Sir Edward Poynings, Knight of the Garter, Controller
Sir Henry Marney, Lord Marney
Sir Thomas Darcy, Lord Darcy
“The frame of this council was of scholars, chiefly, and soldiers…” These were not “men of the law” – but they called for experts when needed. Their job was to “impartially advise, but often modestly contest with him in any thing for his good… this held up the majesty of the council.” Lord Herbert tells us that “The first office perform’d by these counselors, was mix’d betwixt piety to their deceas’d prince, and duty to their new.”
Lady Margaret expected them to “deliberate well among themselves” so that the young king would not be “distracted by difference of opinions.” They behaved as Margaret expected til her death; which came shortly thereafter.
Henry VIII had lost his brother, his mother and now his father. He was a sensitive young man. He left Richmond, where his father had died, for the Tower of London. There he learned the true state of the kingdom from his council and sought to “avoid those salutes and acclamations of the people … till the lamentations and solemnity of his father’s funeral were past. He thought not fit to mingle the noises.”
Henry Wyatt was knighted – along with others – at Henry’s coronation.
Winter King – Henry VII and The Dawn of Tudor England
by Thomas Penn.