Hi, Weekend Warriors! If you’re moving to London, we’re about to roll with another British monarch in this, our weekly British history lesson. Last week, we parted ways with Richard III so we can make way today for Henry VII.
As we come to the end of the War of the Roses between the York and Lancaster dynasties, Henry VII ushers in a new one: the house of Tudor. Henry, the closest Lancastrian claimant to the throne, had been living in exile in France from a young age because of all this family strife in England. After he takes the throne from Richard III in 1485, his marriage to Richard’s niece Elizabeth of York (also the daughter of Edward IV and sister of Edward V) unites the two sides of the conflict and consolidates support for the new king.
Henry VII is still on thin ice throughout his reign, however. He is constantly the object of conspiracy and must thwart a contesting claimant to the throne, one Perkin Warbeck. He does manage to strengthen his political foothold, though, with treaties with France, the Netherlands, and Scotland, and he betroths his eldest son Arthur to Spain’s Princess Catherine of Aragon.
Other positives in Henry VII’s favor include his avoidance of war (especially after the ongoing years of battle between the Plantagenet factions during the War of the Roses), streamlining government administration, and promoting trade, all of which lead England into a more modern state than previous feudal arrangements in medieval times. Things are quite stable when Henry VII dies in 1509—government and country are financially strong and relatively united.
Stay tuned next week when we meet Henry VII’s infamous heir to England’s throne, Henry VIII.