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1.5 Henry VII - The Founder of the Tudor Dynasty
After Henry VII ascended the English throne he had to face lot of problems like that of law and order, financial difficulties, feudal lords, etc. He married the Yorkist heiress, Elizabeth and came to the English throne. The Yorkist faction was easily defeated by Henry and after that the dynastic issue was settled. He now became powerful and acquired the moral support of the 'people of England' with whose help he ruled efficiently.
The everyday administration was given to those countrymen who were unpaid but ready to help the King in his administration. Henry VII successfully carried out the administration. He gave secondary position to the parliament. But he never desired to reduce its legal powers. Somehow the roots of despotism were laid.
The English parliament was very reluctant to grant money to the King. To raise huge funds, Henry used many methods. He began ‘benevolence’ which were the gifts to the monarch which were in reality forced gifts or loans. The financial councilors of Henry VII were empowered with ‘Morton Fork,’ this tax was forced on rich and poor for the uplift of the State. Although these two tax devices earned a huge amount for the first Tudor King they also gave him bad name. Henry also forced the Kings who were defeated in the wars he fought to pay for the war losses from their treasury. In this way the cost of war was recovered. Besides this, he increased the tax on the crown lands by which the income was raised from 52,000 Sterling Pounds to 1,42,000 Sterling Pounds. He raised money from some other sources like confiscation of estates of barons who were destroyed in war times. He imposed heavy fines on the one who broke any of his laws.
This apart, he was economical and avoided wars and ran the administration with proper balance of income and expenses. Economic development was very essential for him, and so he paid special attention to it. He founded a Merchant Navy and encouraged shipbuilding for the commercial development of the country. Development of industry was his special interest. Due to his policy relating to commerce the country could become more prosperous and economically developed.
1.5a Main domestic policy of Henry VII
The major objectives of Henry were
- to quell all the revolts so that his position could be secured and so he could concentrate on the proper administration of the country.
- As ‘money’ and economic stability was essential for the proper and efficient implementation of his policies, his major concentration was on accumulation of finances.
- For ending the power of the barons the King established a new monarchy. He established a special court of the Stuart Chamber. He reduced the power of the feudal lords. He imposed heavy fines on nobles who were found disobeying the regulations of the King.
- He increased the foreign trade of the country so that the wealth and prosperity of the country could be increased.
1.5b Foreign Policy of Henry Tudor
It was after Henry VII Tudor took over as the King of England that it became a powerful nation. With his foolproof policy towards his neighbors England created an important place for itself in the family of European nations.
With France, its ancient enemy England adopted an intellectual policy. When the King of France attacked Spain, Henry VII also declared war on France. To settle this situation the French decided to make peace with Henry by offering large sums of money. He also joined the League of Venice to maintain the balance of power in Europe. With Spain he entered into a matrimonial alliance with Ireland. He passed all such laws put forth in the English parliament that would be compulsorily imposed on Ireland. He also saw to it that laws could not be passed by Irish parliament without the sanction of the English parliament.
Henry VII was a farsighted ruler. His policies, both domestic and foreign brought prestige to England and credit to Tudors.