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Henry VII’s attitude to ruling was, for the most part, similar to that of his predecessors. He believed in the imposition of strong and unquestioned royal leadership. This was particularly needed in England after an interval of instability in which the authority of the Crown had been badly damaged. However, Henry’s own background also made demands on him. Henry Tudor was a stranger in England when he ascended the throne, having won that throne by conquest. Thrust in this position by the events of a single afternoon, Henry had to master the realm he now ruled. Henry had no immediate relations whose services he could employ nor a reliable body of nobles he could turn to. What he did, he had to do on his own.
Adapted from Wallace MacCaffrey,
The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor and Stuart Britain, 2000
Henry was undoubtedly shrewd, calculating and long-headed; he seems never to have been overcome by passion. Yet if he had even a touch of the temper, this exercise of self-restraint must have cost him a great deal. Probably the hard training of a youth spent in wars, danger of execution and long exile tamed him and taught him to hide his feelings and veil his purposes. That he was eager for money is certain. He was not, however, a miser; where it served his purpose money was spent freely, and he saved and extorted only in the interests of the Crown. To the establishment of peace, the preservation of law and order, the security of the realm he applied all his high intelligence and his determination., his shrewdness and his steady and daily interest in affairs.
Adapted from Geoffrey Elton
England Under the Tudors, 3rd edition, 1991.
Henry’s attempts to override local powers by means of his own servants, his use of spies, his institution of a personal bodyguard as soon as he became king, all point to a misguided policy, which was what he knew was best. It would be surprising if local instability and Henry’s deep mistrust of the nobles that bred mistrust towards the king had not raised some questions about his suitability to rule, and it is a fact that Henry was troubled by plots and rebellions for much longer than he should have been after the Battle of Stoke.
Adapted from Christine Carpenter
The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, c1437-1509, 1997
A2 Exam Question:
Using your understanding of the historical context, assess how convincing the arguments in Extracts 1, 2 and 3 are in relation to Henry VII’s consolidation of power.