How far was Henry VII’s control over the nobility in the years 1485 to 1509 due to his financial policies? (24 marks) As Henry was a usurper, it was unlikely that he’d gained much support and loyalty from his Nobles although it did not evade the fact that he had to establish some authority over them. One of the primary methods Henry used was to either punish or reward his Nobility with his financial policies. Henry had a very detailed and complex financial policy which enabled him to milk every penny he could from his Nobility or in fact avoid having to pay them all together.
A prime example would be Henry’s reluctance to grant titles and land as rewards, instead he preferred to award the ancient honour of the Order of the Garter. This significantly decreased the amount Henry had to pay out to his Nobles but it also kept them satisfied as it was such a prestigious award. Henry also used Bonds and Recognisances to restrain the power of his Nobility. Lord Burgavenny, for example, was fined ? 70,650 for the breach of such a Recognisance.
This obviously contain the power of over mighty Nobles as it was estimated that between the years 1504-1508, Edmund Dudley collected ? 50,000 per annum from bonds. Such methods aided with controlling Nobility but there were other financial policies that contributed. Every monarch of the time had to handle their Nobility, and it was no different for Henry. In fact Henry used very effective policies in order to strengthen his control over them. A notable policy would be the Acts of Attainders, in 1485 & 1504 he used this policy to declare 56 Nobleman guilty of crimes against the Crown.
Thomas Howard lost the title Duke of Norfolk and his family estates after Bosworth, Henry was able to gain huge amounts of income from these Acts which increased his fragile control over the Nobility. As a result of the Acts of Attainders, the about of over mighty noble families numbered 5 in 1497, this shows how successful his financial policies actually were. A very successful policy Henry used to raise finance and control Nobility was Benevolences, in 1491 Henry raised ? 48,500 to take his army to France just through Benevolences. Evidently the King’s financial policy enabled him to gain some control over his Nobility lthough there were other ideologies he had in place that further increased his containment of his Noblemen’s power. On the other hand, there were policies other than financial ones that aided in Henry’s struggle to gain control over the Nobility. Retaining proved a pivotal policy in containing the power of Nobility, in 1504 Nobles had to obtain special licences to retain from the King. This seemingly heightened Henry’s control over magnates as it reduced the possibility of an uprising against the King. Probably the monarchy’s most effective policy was his pacifist approach towards War.
By refusing to divulge in foreign conflict; with the exception of the invasion of France in 1492, it meant that it didn’t give his Nobility a golden opportunity to rise up against him. Although he couldn’t gain financially due to his peaceful views, it meant that Henry could keep his Nobles at bay without the worry of loss of support. Other policies that increased Henry’s control over his Nobility was that he sought to keep some Yorkists in government, along with his own supporters. Henry also adopted the policy of promoting men of ability, rather than of noble birth.
He needed men who could administrate effectively. This considerably limited the amount of Noblemen and impeded their power as it meant ‘New Blood’ was being introduced into Government and the Nobility was a dying breed. This enabled Henry to gain a lot of control over his Nobility as it limited their numbers and he had more subjects around him who he could trust. Overall, it is evident that Henry’s financial policy enabled him to gain some control over his Nobility although it was in fact his attitude towards War and conflict that meant he could have complete control over his Noblemen.
Magnates would have a lot of support if they were to rise up against the King during a War and that would put Henry’s throne in grave danger although his decision not to engage in foreign affairs meant that it didn’t give his Nobility a chance to try and overthrow him. Christine Carpenter highlights this as she says Henry’s financial treatment of his Gentry meant that they were very close to uprising as it caused so much frustration and tension. This shows that the King never really had complete control over them due to his financial policy.