Thesis: House of Tudor England

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House of Tudor

England's House of Tudor, the story of the Tudor Monarchy, is one of the most dynamic and exciting stories of a royal line in the history of the world. It was the Tudor King, Henry VIII, who brought about the most radical change not just in English history, and in the history of Christianity too. Queen Elizabeth, King Henry's daughter from his marriage with Anne Boleyn, was, until modern times, the longest reigning monarch in English history. It was the House of Tudor, specifically the line of King Henry VIII, which had the most dramatic effect on England and on the world as we know it today. But for King Henry VIII, there would not have been a Reformation, the schism and the separation of England from the Catholic authority in Rome, and leading to the establishment of the Protestant Church of England. The House of Tudor lasted 118 years, and dramatically changed the world, the effects of which continue to exist today (Ridley, Jasper, 23).

The House of Tudor came into existence when Henry Tudor wrested the crown away from Richard III (Slater, Victor, 2002, 5). King Henry VII began a process of centralizing the monarchy's power, which continued under Henry VIII (Slater, 5). Henry VIII was the first King of England to exercise a power of authority over the church, state, and nobility (Slater, 5). The reign of Henry VII was occupied largely with domestic affairs (Slater, 5). He secured the title for his line by shutting down opposing forces and challenges to his royal lineage (Slater, 5). One has to wonder whether or not the rest of the European royalty, that is France and Spain, took Henry VII seriously, or perhaps they believed that he would be overthrown, because it was thirteen years into Henry's reign before the Spanish ambassador finally paid an official state visit to the king (Stater, 5).

The Spanish ambassador, according to his letter back to Spain, arrived in England in July, 1948, and spent a day traveling to London (Stater, 5). Upon arrival in London, Henry VII was out of the city, returned and met with the Spanish ambassador the following day (Stater, 5). It was the Spanish ambassador's mission to gain a sense of who Henry VII was, and what his ambitions were as King of England (Stater, 5). The ambassador noted that Henry was humble enough a king to consult with his council, and that he handled himself in a very kingly manner, and looked the part as he was attended by a large number of his staff and nobility (Stater, 5). So it was that the House of Tudor was established in England, and would go on to change the country, and change the world.

Henry VIII, son of Henry VII, was not diplomatic or as humble as his father. He was prone to fits of rage, and instead of building a loyal and supporting following around himself, and upon whom he could depend on and consult with, he terrorized his inner circle (Ridley, 23). It was not uncommon for members of his inner circle to cause the king to become angry, which would spell not just the end of that person's favor with the king, but their life as well (Ridley, 23). Still, it was the reign of Henry VIII which had the greatest impact on the monarchy and the relationship between the church and state in England, which would be long lasting.

Those Who Shaped Henry VIII Court

When Henry VIII became King of England in 1509, he inherited a country that had experienced his father's stabilizing rule. Henry's rule would one of constant change, pulling the power of the monarchy into a tightly held tool that would be wielded in a most self-serving way. It is a complicated reign, in that the intricacies of Henry's relationship and the creation of the Church of England can be difficult at times to understand as regards the legalities associated with the acts which brought about its creation. We have no shortage of academic thought and analysis on the matter, and it is from that body of knowledge that we draw upon here to create a coherent discussion about the impact Henry VIII had on England and the world.

Henry VIII became king shortly before his eighteenth birthday (Ridley, 12). Henry was a skilled archer, avid horseman and hunter, and he attended mass five times a day, but found the time, too, to enjoy the social events that were held in the evenings (Ridley, 12). We know that Henry was athletic, wrote books and papers on theology and other subjects, and brought in foreign writers and others in the pursuit of knowledge and the arts (Ridley, 13). There were three main advisers to Henry during his reign: Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, and Stephen Gardner (Ridley, 13). Each of these men helped to shape Henry's ideas and actions as they manifested themselves in the way of English law, policy, and the relationship between the crown, the church, the nobility, and the people of England (Ridley, 13). Some people suggest that many of the writings on religion and politics and society that were produced by Henry were in fact the product of these three men, and that these men became the objects of Henry's disillusionment, and he blamed them when he either did not get his way, or when things went wrong for the country.

Wolsey was a strong minded and a strong willed man. He was busy during the early years of Henry's reign with legal matters, of which there were no end (Slavin, 1968, 65).

From his seat in the court of Chancery, with the needed strong hand, he controlled the endless conflict of legal systems which was now a permanent menace to good government, and from this point-of-view he was "the chancellor par excellence." His work here is his greatest title to fame. He was no less diligent and masterful in that "courte at Westminster commonly called the Starre chamber"; so diligent, indeed, that he has a claim to be considered the first creator of its fame. With Wolsey in control, this court became the centre to which flowed in all complaints of oppression by the mighty, of neglect and delay of justice, of insubordination to the royal will in administration. The cardinal was prompt, he was just, and extremely vigorous; and he never hesitated to call into his court for settlement cases he thought would be better settled there than in other courts (Slavin, 65)."

Wolsey is also credited with ushering in an era of "anticlericalism (Slavin, 85). It was a time of skepticism, and even clerics were manifesting an anticlericalism thinking and behavior (Slavin, 85). Wolsey had served Henry VII, and Henry, as a young man and king, trusted Wolsey to carry on with that work. Henry VIII had little interest in the politics, but he did have an interest in remaining on his throne, and to that extent it would have been - and ultimately was - a miscalculation on Wolsey's part to think that he could continue to scoop the power of the kingdom unto himself and administer it with the authority he commanded without irking the king at some point. It was, however, less

King Henry VIII was, however, enough to put fear into Wolsey. One of the most significant periods of fear for Wolsey was when Henry became angry with the poets and scholars that he had once admired. "There were four great international scholars, and, in England, two great patrons of learning. Of the six, Henry cold-shouldered Erasmus out of England, imprisoned Vives, decapitated More and Fisher, and frightened Wolsey to death (Slavin, 85)."

Wolsey's end came not on the executioner's block, but when Henry divested him of his authority and took the "Great Seal" away from him (Haigh, Christopher, 95). The impetus for defrocking Wolsey, so-to-speak, was Anne Boleyn, who did not think that Wolsey's efforts in helping Henry VII end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon were sincere, or that at least he had not made it a priority, and Anne campaigned against Wolsey (Slavin, 18). Henry, however, continued to treat Wolsey with a measure of respect, and even consulted with him on matters of state until Wolsey's death (Haigh, 95).

The next in Henry's inner circle was Thomas Cromwell, who accomplished much and contributed to achieving Henry's goals and missions. It is perhaps not accurate to read too much into the influence of Wolsey and Cromwell. They had good reason to fear for their lives since Henry's could never be known as to the direction it was going at any given time. "Cromwell was unable, he believed all men were unable, to describe the unutterable qualities of the royal mind, the sublime virtues of the royal heart (Slavin, 23)." Cromwell would not survive the reign of King Henry VIII, but he did accomplish much.

Cromwell's ministry was in a constant course of flattery and submission; but… [END OF PREVIEW]

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House of Tudor England.  (2008, November 26).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/house-tudor-england/3016976

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"House of Tudor England."  Essaytown.com.  November 26, 2008.  Accessed December 7, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/house-tudor-england/3016976.