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Using Your Understanding of the Historical Context, Assess How Convincing the Arguments in These Three Extracts Are in Relation to Henry's Relationship with the Nobility.

In: Historical Events

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The first extract, extract 5.2 from L. Davies, immediately states Henry used harsh measures against the nobility, starting with presumably policy inaugurated in 1502 in order to control the nobility and ensure they were not in a position to threaten him or his remaining son; this was because his wife and two of his sons had died in 1502. The source suggests that the measures used against nobles were not always justified- however as relating to the earlier sentence a weakness in the Tudor dynasty had been opened after the deaths of his sons, and Henry did manage to keep in control of the nobility throughout his reign and his son successfully succeeded him to the throne. The extract states that the reasons of Henry VII’s actions and measures were not always politic; this can be justified as many of Henry’s policies were instead economic (though arguably this can be linked back to political motivation), for example his assertion of feudal dues over the nobility to give him money. This took many forms such as escheats, when land reverted to the Crown a payment would have to be made to Henry, and wardship where the King took control of the estates of minors until they became of age, and was able to siphon the profits from these estates. Henry’s motivation throughout his reign can be consistently seen to improve his economic state and increase the amount of land he owned, rather than to pull nobles over to his side- however this is also politic, as land and money was a direct correlation of power.

The tone of the source is skeptical and suggests that Henry may not have been able to continue on the throne for much longer had he kept with the “harsh policy” inaugurated in 1502; this suggests he was pushing the nobility too far and a rebellion may have eventually occurred had he continued. This is debatable but not unjustified as a statement as Henry had already faced two rebellions from pretenders who wanted the throne, rebellions that were funded by the nobility, and a rebellion in 1497 from peasants who were angry at a tax- this shows that Henry was not concrete in his position on the throne, and still faced many threats from the nobility.

The second extract, source 5.4 from a contemporary author, states that Henry VII controlled the nobility through fear, and that this was justified, describing the nobility as “a mob of aloof self-interested magnates”. While Henry did use Acts of Attainder, bonds and recognisances to control the nobility, he did not only use ‘sticks’ to keep his hold over them- in a carrot and stick approach, he gave the nobility who served him rewards, such as patronage, where he gave certain nobles positions of power and titles; Henry used this to reward nobles who had given him loyal service- this increased faithfulness to him and was useful to win nobles over to his cause and to him, so he did not control the nobility solely through fear alone, and this at least negates some of what the extract also states about “its loyalty not willingly given”. However Henry also suffered through several rebellions, showing that his forceful control of the nobles did not fully work- however he also managed to survive through all of these rebellions. In 1495 Henry stopped a potential conspiracy against him and executed several nobles including William Stanley; this is at least partway an example of how Henry controlled through fear, as he made an example of the members of the nobility who went against him instead of pardoning them (for example William Stanley, who had also fought with him in the Battle of Bosworth and had a brother still loyal to Henry VII).

This source also states the “justification for the presence of the nobility lay in its potential fidelity and its governing capacity”; the latter is true as Henry did use the nobility to govern England in place of him or for him- such as the Earl of Northumberland who still controlled the North (despite having not supported Henry before he obtained the Crown), but Henry preferred to keep direct control if his land or to only give it to trusted relatives such as Jasper Tudor, his uncle.

The last extract, 5.5, is also a contemporary source written in 1995; it suggests that the nobility needed Henry’s power to protect their own land, and “were unlikely to attack or undermine a system that made them what they were”. This was in fact made more true by the fact that Henry was quick to take land or money from those who disobeyed him, meaning they had even more incentive to continue to follow Henry, as their power depended on their loyalty to him and their service to him.

However, Henry VII was also indeed a usurper who “needed to use threats or blandishments” in order to control the nobility; this was because he had taken the throne from Richard and still had many enemies when he took the crown- for example the North of England still supported Richard and thought of Henry was a usurper. Many nobles felt that if a man who had previously been in exile in France could have won the throne when his claim to it was minor, it was also possible for others to do so- this was at least part of what instigated the several rebellions and attempted rebellions towards Henry VII, showing exactly how much uncertainty lay in the expected time of his tenure on the throne. Since he was the start of a dynasty, there were few who had any long ties of loyalty with his family or with him- this meant he could not trust any of the nobility except for his close family,

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