Henry VII Crowned King

Harri Tudur, grandson of a Welshman and a French Princess, the great-great-great-grandson of King Edward III, was crowned King Henry VII, the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty, on 30 October 1485.

It is important to note that he made sure he was crowned king by “right of conquest” before he married Edward IV’s eldest daughter and heir, Elizabeth of York. Henry was very tenuously connected to the throne and his royal ENGLISH blood was all from the maternal side of his family, so he wanted to make sure that everyone knew he was now rightful king regardless of linage. His forces had defeated Richard III during the Battle of Bosworth a few weeks prior and he was QED king through God’s favour in combat.

In truth, it is nothing short of a miracle that Henry VII became king. His rights to the throne by inheritance were scanty and weak, his experience in battle was small, and his support before Richard III usurped the throne was almost non-existent. Richard ‘s decision to declare his nephews illegitimate and usurp the crown in 1483 changed the course of English history.

Had Richard not betrayed his nephews, there is every possibility the Yorkist dynasty would have survived. But Richard’s own future would have been quite difficult; he was despised by Elizabeth Woodville, and – as Edward IV’s only brother – he would become the focus of Woodville discontent. That would not have lasted for long and Edward V would have followed his mother’s wishes. The boy had, after all, been raised and tutored by his Woodville relations and hardly knew Richard … Richard was an able administrator but faced quite a few obstacles during his brief reign. If Edward IV had died with no rightful heir, Richard’s ascension would have been viewed much differently. Then, he would have been the rightful king. And since he wed Anne Neville of Warwick, daughter of the ‘Kingmaker’, he would have had crucial support. But Richard’s only son and wife died with months of one another in 1484 … Richard III’s usurpation was bad enough to most Englishmen, and especially the nobility. But in 1483, Edward IV’s two sons – held in the Tower – mysteriously died. It was whispered that Richard had them murdered and secretly buried … The deaths of Edward V and his brother, Richard duke of York, angered the populace and encouraged the image of Richard III as a deceitful murderer. Since Richard never officially responded to the rumors, they were believed to be true … The disappearance sullied Richard’s character and made those Englishmen who didn’t support Henry Tudor less than thrilled about defending Richard III. In other words, they would simply wait out the conflict without openly supporting either party. And that is exactly what most of the country did … Richard was a capable and intelligent man and – whatever the truth about his nephews – had far more experience in government than Henry Tudor.”

In sum, it is only the disappearance and presumed deaths of the Princes in the Tower, the sons of Edward IV and the lawful kings of England, that turned the former Yorkists and allies against Richard III and made them seek an alternative monarch. It was the actions and policies of King Richard III that really gave the crown to Harri Tudur. Even though King Richard had blood and money and the actual throne on his side, the upstart Welshman distantly related to the crown still won when Richard’s theoretical allies turned against him on the field of battle.

Richard’s entire reign had been plagued with insurrections and allies turning against him, including one of his most devoted of former supporters,  Duke of Buckingham. It will never be known for certain if Richard had his nephews murdered or not, but it is indisputable that he imprisoned the boys, took their throne, and executed their most staunch defenders and kinsmen on trumped up charges. Richard III, once the most respected man in the kingdom,  had become profoundly unpopular, even hated, everywhere but in Northern England. The mass dislike and distrust of Richard III fuelled the support for Harri Tudur, rather than any belief in the Lancastrian cause. Henry VII greatest recommendation for the throne was that he was not Richard III.

Henry VII would spend his reign consolidating wealth and power for England by  eschewing war and collecting taxes, leaving a strong, rich, and stable kingdom to his heir, Henry VIII. This, of course, made him a very unpopular king in his own right. Nonetheless, when looked at in the cold light of history, King Henry VII was one of the best and most efficacious monarchs of the late Middle Ages.

3 thoughts on “Henry VII Crowned King

  1. Good article. I bought ‘The Winter King’ recently but have yet to read it. Now it will be placed higher on my list of books to read. The Tudor history all came before me as a result of first reading about the Wars of the Roses in Sharon Kay Penman’s wonderful and historically near perfect novel, “The Sunne in Splendour” and then reading a fine biography of Richard III by Paul Murray Kendall. So one must move on.

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