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The king in the middle….

Henry Seven JPEG

Is there a case for giving Henry VII a thumbs up? I put this “disloyal” question while wearing my very best Ricardian hat, and I put it after noticing a number of recent, very well-deserved comments about his odious son and successor, Henry VIII.

We all know what a fine man Richard was, and nothing will ever shake our faith in him, unless his diary turns up with “I am guilty of every charge, including my nephews”, signed Ricardus Rex, in his own unmistakeably neat, educated hand. Well, that will never happen, save Henry VII’s Smear Machine having managed to produce an almost perfect fake. Henry wasn’t above such a thing, of course, because whatever else he was, he was very clever. And utterly determined to hang on to his stolen throne.

But throughout his reign he lived with the threat of the House of York returning. No matter how many fibs he spread about Richard having, among other things, eliminated the sons of Edward IV, there was no proof. No bodies. No closure. Henry worried about this from 22nd August 1485 onward, and I am sure it eventually put paid to his health. He died quite wretchedly, albeit in his own bed. Hooray for the wretchedness, say most Ricardians.

But what sort of man was he really? Well, ‘mean’ is probably one of the first adjectives that springs to mind. He would claw in every last coin, or what was left of every last coin, and was none too fussy about how he did it. “The king was in his counting house, counting out his money” is how the old nursery rhyme goes, and it’s almost certainly about Henry. Or so I’ve always understood. Similarly, “The queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey” is about his wife, Elizabeth of York. So, the cruel miser was stashing his ill-gotten gains, while his plump, empty-headed wife lived the high life. This is the rhyme’s implication.

After ‘mean’, comes lying, conniving, cruel, conscienceless, ambitious, and various other unflattering observations. He also made an art form about making his appearance intimidating to all those who came into his presence. And with his height, slenderness and strange eyes, I imagine he had the same mesmerising effect as a cobra just before it strikes. He had it all worked out, but then he had to. How else could he banish the charm of those Yorkist kings he replaced? He used fear, which is always a successful weapon.

By the time he died, he really was a nasty piece of work. It was no longer a façade. Everyone was hugely relieved to bury him and then turn to his dazzling son, Henry Tudor Mark II, whom they probably hoped would resurrect the charm of the House of York. Spring and summer after autumn and a decidedly bitter winter. Except Mark II didn’t live up to expectations, but turned into an infinitely worse tyrant than his father. Henry VII left a realm that was safe and settled, with bulging coffers. But he had not quite eradicated the threat of the House of York, so Henry VIII also had to deal with the tiresome White Rose. He did. Ruthlessly. And on top of that he thought nothing of chopping off the heads of two of his six queens. Among the heads of many others, of course. Oh, and he also emptied the coffers.

Can anyone imagine Henry VII behaving quite like this? Yes, he chopped off heads, they all did then, but he was also surprisingly restrained at times. And if Elizabeth of York had failed to produce any children, needing replacement by a more fruitful model, would he have made false charges against her? Treason? Having surrendered her all to her uncle, Richard III? Of course, by doing this he would almost certainly have caused another rebellion, this time likely to be only too successful. Many only put up with him as king because of his Yorkist queen. Henry wasn’t daft, so he wouldn’t have done it. Nor did he have to, because Elizabeth gave him the heirs he needed. Phew, Henry’s luck held. But he was a conventional man and conventional Christian. I can’t imagine Henry Mark I ever creating such a monumental upheaval as to challenge Rome, let alone sever all links with it.

After Bosworth, I think he would have done almost anything for a quiet life. Chop off Elizabeth of York’s head? Ye gods. No, he would have done what Richard did before him, and selected an heir. Who? That’s for another day, I think. Has anyone any idea who might have become a childless Henry VII’s heir . . . ? Of course, if he had been childless, he would have been faced with increasingly effective challenges from the House of York, and probably wouldn’t have made it to 1509 anyway.

So, there he is, sandwiched between Richard III and Henry VIII, seeming almost anonymous to our modern eyes. Richard arouses huge emotion and loyalty, and has immense support even now in the 21st century. Henry VIII we view aghast. He’s horribly fascinating, a monster in every sense of the word. And then there’s Henry VII, who hung on to the throne from 1485 until 1509 and established the House of Tudor. Most people now know diddly-squat about him. Henry who? Oh, the one who killed that King Richard they’ve just buried in Leicester.

But . . . what might Henry have been like if all threat from the House of York had ended at Bosworth. No challenges, no sneaky pretenders lurking across the Channel, just a realm to be reigned over. Or plundered. It depends upon the real Henry. And I doubt we will ever discover him. He was moulded by events, he did not mould them. So Mummy Margaret’s real little boy is lost somewhere in between. I’d loved to know, but never will.

My question at the beginning was whether we could give Henry VII a thumbs up of any sort. Well, in some ways he has to be given some credit. In others, oh dear. He was a very pale shadow of his predecessor. Richard’s charisma reaches down through the centuries, as does the increasing awareness of just how much good he would have done had he been allowed to live. He had the people’s welfare at heart, and would have been loved. Henry had Henry’s welfare at heart. And he produced Henry VIII, for which it’s hard to forgive him. Ditto Edward VI and Mary Tudor. I can forgive him for Elizabeth I, but only because her Yorkist blood gets full credit!

So, in the end, with some reservations, I have to give Henry VII a thumbs down. I wish it were not so, because if he had proved to be a truly great king, it might at least have made the sacrifice of Richard a little more bearable. Henry wasn’t a truly great king, he was unpleasant and introduced all the terrible things we associate with the House of Tudor. That makes Richard’s loss all the more painful and tragic.

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38 thoughts on “The king in the middle….

  1. Enjoyed this – makes you think!

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  2. Esther on said:

    Interesting article. However, IMO, the first Tudor is necessary to appreciate the last Plantagenet. After all, isn’t one of the main proofs of the pre-contract (and validity of Richard’s claim to the throne) the fact that Henry Tudor tried covering it up? Also, I think it was the injustice under Henry VII that made people appreciate the justice and good laws available under Richard III. I also think that the last Plantagenet is necessary to appreciate the first Tudor. Richard’s reign wasn’t stable (Buckingham’s rebellion started comparatively quickly, for example) — and Henry did provide stability. I wonder what might have happened if the two could have worked together.

    I do believe that Henry VII and his grand-daughter Elizabeth were the only Tudors that shared one basic point with Richard that they did not share with the second Tudor and two of his children … a recognition that they are not G-d and that G-d’s will and their own will are not necessarily one and the same.

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  3. Who would’ve been heir to a childless Henry Tudor? Why, quite clearly it would have been mummy dearest, Or Margaret Regina as I’m sure she styled herself frequently.

    Sent from my iPhone

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  4. myrna Smith on said:

    Several minor points: I was told that the ‘maid in the garden’ was Anne Bolyen, the king Henry VIII, and the queen Catherine of Aragon, who put on weight in middle age.
    In 1501-2, somewhere around there,, when Henry had been very ill, there was discussion in Calais of who his successor would be, when he had a perfectly good, healthy, legitimate heir. The name of Buckingham was mentioned, I think.
    When doing a review of a pro-Tudor book, I was moved to the following doggerl poetry:
    Tudor’s soak-the-rich policy made him the first liberal, you see.
    Richard, his opposite in great and small ways, would vote Conservative always.
    It would be a fun exercise for an idle hour to draw comparisons between Barack Obama and Henry Tudor: both tall & thin, both members of a despised race (in Henry’s case Welsh) . And of course, one can compare Richard and George Bush, if one has a mind to. Did he see a Woodville conspiracy (a WMD) where none existed? That’s the main thrust of much feminist history of the period. EW just wouldn’t do such things, and if you think she did, you’re a misogynist.
    All very superficial, of course, but worthwhile remembering, they were both politicians.
    Anyway, much food for thought here. Perhaps more later on what areas I would give H. a thumbs-up, and a finger or two.

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  5. myrna Smith on said:

    More thoughts: A thumbs-up, I think, in the area of coming down hard on the propensity of powerful noblemen to conduct private vendettas under the guise of dynastic battle (the “Wars of the Roses.) This was done more by means of bonds than taxes (though he employed them also). Some bonds were so narrowly tailored as to prevent a nobleman from stepping foot into certain shires without royal permission.
    And when you say ‘mean’ do you mean ‘mean’ in the British sense = stingy, or in the American sense = cruel? Henry wasn’t stingy, he was avaricious, which is different. No denying, he did have a streak of mental cruelty, as shown in his treatment of Lambert Simnel and, early on, ‘Perkin Warbeck.’ Even there, it was coupled with an odd lenience. So there’s the down-vote.
    Have to say, though, than Henry VII is my second favorite Tudor. My first favorite: Frederic, the Ice King.
    Real life interferes – perhaps Part 3 later.

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  6. Well, Henry sure wasn’t a particularly likable or charming fellow. But, several undoubted positives have been mentioned in the article and the comments. He was no doubt very clever, he was efficient and successful in ensuring stability, and he managed to curtail the power of the unruly powerful noblemen. And he was one of those rulers who are reasonably ruthless and have just as many people killed/executed as they need to ensure their power, but don’t go into the crazy paranoid mode and start seeing enemies everywhere or executing people for ridiculous reasons; this may seem like a faint praise, but comparing this type of a ruler to someone like his son Henry VIII, or to paranoid madmen like Stalin, puts things into perspective.

    I do blame him for “producing” Henry VIII in the sense that he was apparently a bad, cold father to him – this must have had some effect on Henry VIII’s unfortunate psyche; I do feel somewhat sorry for him when I remember he was just 11 when his mother died, and his father didn’t love him and always had preferred Arthur. Maybe he just couldn’t get over the fact that Henry was so much like his grandfather, Edward IV (which may have also been the reason why Henry was apparently his mother’s favorite).

    I think that assuming that Elizabeth of York was stupid or empty-headed, as I’ve seen people do, is pretty unfair. We don’t have that many insights into what she wa like, beyond the rumors, various myths and the Tudor idealized image that fits that time’s idea of what a woman, queen and mother was supposed to be; we know she was educated and liked to read; and, to me it seems like she probably, as a woman of her time and position who was limited in power, agency and choices, made the best out of her circumstances. She even made someone as cold as Henry apparently come to genuinely love her.

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    • viscountessw on said:

      Hello timetravellingbunny. I didn’t actually say Elizabeth of York was stupid and empty-headed, just that I perceived the nursery rhyme to imply that she was. And as one other commenter has said, there is another theory that the rhyme concerns Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. But I agree that if Elizabeth really won the heart of a man like Henry VII, she can’t have been a nitwit.

      However, I am still to be convinced there was love between them. Yes, I know he collapsed when she died, but although it seemed to be caused by a broken heart, there is still something that makes me doubt. His health was dodgy by then, and the shock of her death in childbed, after so many successful births, could have brought on such a collapse. Yes, it was a successful marriage in that she produced heirs and he did not seem to stray, but was he even capable of love? He had to be forced into marrying her, and I wonder if he always resented the fact. He wanted to be king by conquest, and not have to ‘owe’ anything to her birthright. And he had to make sure she and her siblings were legitimate, thus giving her brothers a greater claim to the throne than his own. Grudges linger.

      The House of York tormented him from the moment Bosworth was won, and there she was, a female version of her dazzling father. Henry was damaged goods, to use a modern expression. I think his make-up was such that, unlike Richard III, the traumas of his early life had a truly detrimental effect upon him. Richard grew into a balanced man, capable of love and possessed of a charm and fairness that won the hearts of the north of England. Henry did not win hearts, nor did he seem to want to. In spite of my unalterable support for Richard III, I cannot help but have some sympathy for Henry, as well as some admiration for his sheer tenacity and determination.

      But I share your view that Henry VIII’s resemblance to Edward IV was probably the reason for Henry VII’s coldness toward him. A sly thought now occurs to me. How icier might he have been if the York genes were mischievous enough to produce a Henry VIII who looked like Richard? If Henry VII wasn’t a teeth-grinder before, he would have been after that.

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      • Well, I don’t share the rosy view of the marriage between Henry and Elizabeth, either, and I’m highly skeptical when people insist that there was great love between them. I’m also very sure that the start of their relationship was… very rocky. He sure had no love lost for the York dynasty as a whole, though he had to use the marriage to Elizabeth to solidify his claim. I’ve argued about this with someone once, and they insisted that things like Henry delaying Elizabeth’s corronation until she has given birth to his son don’t mean a thing, but I was not convinced.

        But that doesn’t mean that some sort of love did not eventually develop between them. We know, at least, that he was affected by her death, and it’s often said that he got much worse as a person after she died – she may have been a positive, balancing influence. Although there’s also the report of the Spanish ambassador who says “the queen is beloved [by the people] because she is powerless” and stresses the influence of king’s mother, and that the queen does not like Margaret Beaufort’s influence. Nevertheless, it seems like it was a reasonably happy marriage by the standards of arranged political marriages, especially considering the fact that neither party had much of a choice. Which doesn’t mean that there was romantic love in our modern sense of the word. I try hard to keep in mind that the experience of living in an arranged marriage and having children with someone you never really chose as your partner is something I can’t really relate to, and that furthermore, people in such a society would have a different mindset, as arranged marriage was the norm. (Not that being married and living with someone all your life and having children with them must lead to some sort of love; sometimes it does, sometimes it does not at all. My grandparents were in a marriage arranged by their families and did not know each other previously – and I never got the impression, based on the things I was told, that there had ever been any real love between them, especially not romantic, just familiarity and habit after 50+ years of marriage, and they got on each other’s nerves and argued a lot since they had opposing personalities, but neither of them seemed to think that there was anything wrong with being married to each other and living in the same apartment even after their children were fully adult and living elsewhere.)

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  7. halfwit36 on said:

    If we give Richard a pass in certain areas that were SOP for rulers in his era, then we should do the same for Henry, only beinatg critical when they exceeed those parameters. If we make assumptions (or deny assumptions others have made) about Richard, it would be fair to treat Henry VII the same way. a fair comparison of the two might read as follows.
    Morality, personal: Both faithful husbands, with moderate premarital wild oats. All even.
    Morality, immpersonal, or other people’s private lives: Richard criticized Edward IV’s loose living & shamed Jane Shore. Your proto-Concervative? Henry admitted to giving preference to churchmen who were not very Christ-like. The first Liberal? (I had my tongue in cheek with that verse, but it may not be too far off the mark.) Which attitude you consider worse depends on your POV.
    Old ladies, harassing of: R. is accused of this vis-a-vis the Duchess of Norfolk and his own mother in law, but he was acting as his brother’s agent. H notably harassed only one, his mother-in-law, but on his own account.
    Young girls, harassing of: R was accused of sexually harassing Elizabeth of York, most likely rumor. H treated Catherine of Aragon very shabbily. She was caught in the middle of dowry negotiations between Henry & Ferdinand, but it seems that he actually hated her in the last few years of his reign, but the reason is not known.
    Attitude toward the mentally handicapped: R was accessory after the fact in the killing of Henry VI, and possibly before, though this is unproven. Henry was the prime and only mover in the death of the Earl of Warwick. (It has been suggested that “the earl” in the Tower was not the real earl, but a substitute, but that makes too many substitutes for my taste.
    Murders, judicial: Both executed men for treason, but with at least some kind of trial. (As did Henry VIII, who was an equal-opportunity beheader.) The exception, of course, is Hastings.
    The big one – the presumed death of the Princes: I think we have to declare a draw. Their actions suggest that neither knew what had happened to the boys, of if they knew, dared not say. (Suicide?)
    Offspring: Richard:no evidence. Henry: It’s reasoning backward to claim H VII was a ‘cold parent’ because of how his son turned out. The bios of H VIII and his sisters suggest that they were all spoiled rotten. But what of HT’s own upbringing? Fatherless, deserted by his mother as an infant, brought up in a foster home. At the age of 12, he witnessed a battle, seeing his guardian carried off to be killed, if he did not actually see the execution. At 13, he was taken from the only home he knew by a man he could scarcely remember, and spent the next 13 years being passed from one keeper to another. If he turned out halfway normal, it was against the odds.
    Courage: No question – Richard. Henry was a reluctant soldier. But see the previous paragraph for a possible reason.
    Loyalty: This was R’s motto, but H was also capable of loyalty, even to men who didn’t deserve it, such as Morton. Ricard wanted them to deserve it.
    Finance: After cutting taxes, Richard was forced to use taxes (‘benevolences’), bonds and attainders to raise money, which he spent on costly wars. Henry used taxes, bonds and attainders, to no doubt a greater degree, and was fortunate enough to manage a profitable war. He spent money on high living, but still balanced the budget and left a surplus.
    Our local paper, which is u sually a little left of center, recently ran an editorial by Jonah Godlberg, in which he called the Clintons “the Tudors of the Ozarks.” Not quite fair, rather like comparing lemons and kumquats, but he may have a point!

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    • Being a cold parent and spoiling your children rotten are not mutually exclusive, especially with rich and powerful parents.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        I’ll take your word for it, as I’ve never had rich and powerful parents. But yes, even middle-class and working-class parents can be manipulative, with the best of intentions. c.f. Margaret Beaufort. Maybe Granny had a hand in it too. Or maybe Elizabeth was the cold & unfeeling parent. After all, if her marriage was so miserable, she couldn’t have kept up a facade all the time. I’m not defending or blaming anyone, just saying that there’s insufficient evidence.

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      • Me neither, but there are more than enough examples (well-known, in case of rich and powerful people, whose lives and lives of their children are better known to the public than the life of an average Joe) of parents neglecting their children and being distant while simultaneously giving them lots of money and privilege. Of course, you may also say that we have insufficient evidence since we did not speak to them personally and spend time with them. I also personally know at least one well-off middle-class who’s like that.

        In terms of evidence about the lives of 15/16th century people, I’m afraid that “insufficient evidence” is all we have on any of their personal feelings about anyone, so we may as well completely drop any attempt at trying to say anything about it. It’s not like we can hope to have some direct documentary accounts from Henry VII and Henry VIII about their feelings for each other. When a contemporary source (Reginald Pole, Henry VIII’s second cousin) claims that Henry VII did not have love for his son Henry VIII after Arthur’s death and that they quarelled violently in 1508, we may cast doubts on his account because of his personal biases, but it counts as some kind of evidence rather than “backward reasoning”, just as any other contemporary account; everyone has a bias. Nobody ever claimed anything like that about Elizabeth of York, in fact it’s said Henry VIII was really close to her. Now, if there are conflicting accounts of cold Elizabeth and Henry VII loving his son Henry a lot, we should be weighing them against it, but I’m not aware of any such claims.

        I’m also not sure what counts as “no evidence”. True, I don’t think there are any accounts detailing Richard III’s relationship with his children, but we do know that when he became king, he tried to ensure the futures of his two acknowledged illegitimate children, making John the Captain of Calais and making a considerable effort to get Katherine married to an Earl. As to Edward, there’s the account that the king and the queen were both beside themselves with grief when they learned of his death. So, that’s some kind of evidence at least, insufficient or not. I’m not sure you can hope for much more detail regarding the familial relationhips in 15th century royal families.

        I don’t know why you’re refuting the idea that Elizabeth of York was miserable in her marriage, since nobody has said that on this blog. There’s a lot of middle ground between “ideal fairytale marriage (complete with 21th century romantic love in spite of the fact it was an arranged marriage between people who had never even met) ” and “miserable in marriage (and probably resenting the fact they had to make an arranged political marriage, in spite of having been brought up to think that was always going to be their future)”, contrary to how historical fiction tends to present things.

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      • viscountessw on said:

        This is a general response to the comments about cold or warm parents. Knowing the truth about these great historical people would be the icing on the cake for us all, I think. They are a huge attraction to us. I know they are to me. How many times have we all wished for a time machine to go back and see it all at first hand? Instead, without written proof, we only have our intuition, which soon becomes a fascination. Richard certainly fascinates me, but so does Henry, who is a great enigma.

        Regarding Henry and his children. My personal view is that he devoted his time to Arthur solely because Arthur was his successor. An only child himself, he may even have treated Arthur as if he too was an only child. He left little Henry to Elizabeth, and she probably doted on the boy. Then Arthur died, and Henry VII had the rug pulled from under him. The error of having neglected little Henry was suddenly well and truly in his face, and he had years of neglect to make up for.

        It didn’t work. too much ground to retrieve, and Henry VII wasn’t naturally demonstrative. He was at fault, and should have spread himself more evenly between the boys. Trusting to luck that your firstborn would actually survive to take over from you was really a little naïve, but then again, he had enjoyed phenomenal luck in many ways. But he was flawed, and cannot be wholly blamed for the character he developed. The result for England was Henry VIII, who went OTT with having a good time and spending the old boy’s money. And who then proceeded to go OTT with just about everything else as well. Shudder.

        Was it Henry VIII’s own rather unpleasant but natural character, or, like his father before him, the one imposed upon him by circumstances and the lack of a father’s attention? Whatever the answer, I sense that Henry VII was a good and attentive father to Arthur, but the very opposite with Henry VIII. It was bound to end in tears.

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      • Interesting thoughts, viscountessw. I just want to add a general comment that, when it comes to the familial and other relationships between the people of 15th and 16th century, there’s a difference between having evidence and having proof: we do have various bits of evidence – sometimes concurring, sometimes conflicting – about the familial and other relationships of Henry VII, Richard III, Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII etc., which can be used to speculate and build theories on, and said bits of evidence can be accepted, questioned in terms of reliability or rejected. But, like you said, short of having a time machine, or a direct link to the minds of long-dead people*, we are unlikely to ever have a *proof*, as opposed to the facts that can be definitely proven (e.g. the manner of Richard III’s death – there used to be just a lot of concurring evidence in the form of contemporary accounts, now there’s physical proof in terms of his skeleton; Richard III’s appearance and health – there used to be just a lot of conflicting evidence, now there’s physical proof).

        *Not that this stops some historians from writing as if they actually do have a direct link to the minds of long-dead historical figures.

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      • viscountessw on said:

        Some historians indeed, timetravellingbunny. Regarding that time machine, when I’ve built it, you will receive an invitation to its maiden ‘flight’.

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    • viscountessw on said:

      What costly wars, halfwit36? I didn’t think he had time to go to war, he was too busy fighting off rebellions – and an invasion. Which is hardly the same as waging war, as you appear to be saying.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        Battle of Bosworth Field, next to last battle of the Wars of the Roses. I didn’t say he started it.

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  8. viscountessw on said:

    If he hadn’t fought at Bosworth, he’d simply have rolled over for Henry Tudor. What king is going to do that? Especially an experienced soldier like Richard. I think it unfair to label him as indulging in costly wars when he was defending his realm and his life against an invasion by a mostly foreign army.

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    • halfwit36 on said:

      Bosworth may have been necessary, but it was costly. Besides the money he didn’t have (the Woodvilles would have known something about that), it cost him his life and the lives of many soldiers. Richard didn’t have to risk his own life. He could have regrouped to fight another day, as his mentors, Edward and Warwick, did on occasion.
      I pointed out many ways in which Richard was the better man and the better king, and one or two where Henry had the edge. Did you want a reasoned answer, even if wrong, or just what Terry Breverton calls a hagiography?

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  9. viscountessw on said:

    Hey, I’m not having a go, I’m just discussing it with you. We all see things in different ways, and I always enjoy hearing what others think. It’s been good exchanging views. Pax?

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  10. halfwit36 on said:

    Pax vobiscum (is that the correct spelling?)

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  11. viscountessw on said:

    To heck with the spelling, it’s the meaning that counts. I hope we meet again.

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  12. halfwit36 on said:

    Regarding Henry’s ‘neglect’ of his second son, it was the custom for boys to be under their mother’s control and in her household until age 7, at least, and girls until they married. It was not considered neglect. There is also a report from some ambassadors (Italian I think – haven’t had time to look it up) – that it was ‘amazing’ how much Henry loved his adolescent son. Other reports indicate that he was overprotective of his remaining heir, and the boy naturally resented it. Strict yes, manipulative yes, undemonstrative perhaps, but cold? IDK.
    In any case, since H8 was so close to his mother, she much have had some influence on him, unless you take the view that women and mothers were so oppressed that they couldn’t influence anybody, and at the same time, that they could only be ‘good’ because they were female.
    Henry and Elizabeth had two surviving daughters. I’m not sure Elizabeth was responsible for their actions, or would want to be, if she could look into the future. Margaret strikes me, at least, as very much Daddy’s girl, and Mary as the cosseted baby of the family, who was used to getting what she wanted by crying for it. Maybe that’s all wrong, maybe not. Knowing so little about the people of the time makes it easy for the historical novelist, who can use any plot device short of flesh-eating zombies – maybe that too!
    In any case, isn’t it interesting that nobody tries to insult someone by calling them “the Plantagenets of the _____?” Or is it just that Spellcheck catches it? Mine is always telling me that I mean ‘plant agent,” whatever that is.

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    • “In any case, since H8 was so close to his mother, she much have had some influence on him”

      Of course she did, for starters I’ll be very surprised if someone was not influenced by a relationship with both their parents (unless one of them is completely absent… but even the absence has an influence). And she could have had a negative effect indeed, because overindulging a child and making them believe they’re incredibly special (just speculation here, of course) can have very negative effects, too. But we were specifically discussing Henry VII, not Elizabeth, and speculating whether he can be considered responsible for “producing” Henry VIII.

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      • viscountessw on said:

        Well, as the one at the top of the pile, with a say-so over all the rest, yes, Henry was ultimately responsible for Henry VIII. He sired him, and then had control over what happened from birth onward. And he wasn’t away for months on end at Crusades or similar foreign ventures, he was on the spot in England, close to the boy. One thing I do wonder, however, is what influence Margaret Beaufort had in the family scheme of things. She seems to have ruled over Elizabeth in most things, so perhaps her power extended over the upbringing of the children as well.

        But it’s Henry VII who must take responsibility. Which is why I gave him a thumbs down.

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  13. viscountessw on said:

    You’re probably right about Henry merely following convention by focusing on Arthur alone. Richard didn’t send his only ‘official’ son to Ludlow, but Edward IV and Henry VII did. Why didn’t Richard do the same? Too much unrest in the realm, or was the boy in indifferent health from the outset? Or did Richard simply not like the separating of a boy from both parents at such a young age? With his own experience, I am prepared to believe this might be so.

    Going back a generation, I don’t actually know what the Duke of York did with all his sons. Was the future Edward IV despatched to Ludlow too? And all the others left with Mama?

    But, as one of those despicable beasts, the historical novelist…I like the idea of flesh-eating zombies!

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    • halfwit36 on said:

      How old was Richard’s son exactly? I’ve seen different dates. Also he was not Prince of Wales from birth.
      I think we want to blame Henry VIII’s monstrosity on his father because we don’t like Henry VII. True enough, he was not a likeable person. But H8 had three children, none of whom were monsters. Most people nowadays have some sympathy for Mary, feel sorry for Edward, and consider Elizabeth I a great queen. Yet only Mary was influenced by her mother. With Edward and Elizabeth it was Poppa all the way. Unless you say their mothers were influential by their absence, having died young.
      Although nurture and nature (genetics) do have some effect, in the end we are all responsible for ourselves & how we turn out

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      • viscountessw on said:

        Regarding Richard’s son not being born to be king, I was only thinking of the period during Richard’s reign, when Edward might have been sent to Ludlow. He was born, I think, in December 1473, which would make him nine and a halfish at the time of Richard’s accession in 1483. So he was eligible for being sent away. I still have to wonder if he was not strong, and his parents were protective. Sending him off to Ludlow to learn to be king might have seemed an ordeal that Richard and Anne preferred to spare him. They would not want him to be exposed to the usual rigours of male training. He was all they had, and if he died, Richard would no longer have the security of an heir. Were it not for Henry VII’s ‘spare’, he too would have been in that situation when Arthur died.

        Yes, we’re all responsible for what we do, but not necessarily for how we turn out. I still think there was something in Henry VIII’s upbringing that made him what he was. But, you’re right, he was to blame for the decisions he made, and the heads he lopped. Beside him, his father seems almost angelic.

        So, out of three kings, I still have all the time in the world for Richard, no time at all for Henry VIII, unless it be in Hades….and there in the middle is the enigma of Henry VII. How I would love to have met him, in order to make some face-to-face judgements. Not that he’d ever have let me see anything in his expression. I feel I would be able to read Richard (honest), and even Henry VIII (cruel), but Henry VII? Nope.

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      • Esther on said:

        ITA! There are plenty of children who are spoiled, neglected, or both and who don’t end up as abusive mass murderers … and there is nothing in the treatment given by H7 to H8, both before and after Arthur’s death that would explain H8’s turning into a ruthless monster. (H7, in fact, is an example of how to control without executions, using financial bonds, penalties, etc. instead)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Of course we are all responsible for our actions and choices. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t heavily influenced by their environment and upbringing. These days, we’re kind of over the idea of being “born evil”. Neither do most of us believe that everyone is born a blank slate just waiting to be completely shaped by others. The argument that “well, X didn’t turn out the same way as Y” misses the point, since X and Y are different people and are going to react differently to similar circumstances… not to mention all the way in which X and Y are not in fact in the same circumstances (like Y not having the power or the social role that X had – monarchs and powerful men have more opportunity to do bad things unchecked, by virtue of having more power). And Henry VIII didn’t seem like a monster when he was young, either.

        Say, two people have been abused as children in a similar way, but one of them turns out into an abuser, while the other grows into a great parent and devoted social worker. This still doesn’t mean that the former person would have always turned into an abuser even if they had a completely perfect childhood.

        There have been lots of attempts to explain Henry’s personality and negative changes later in life through his health problems, hypothetical genetic conditions, hypothetical physical consequences of his accident, but environment, childhood, upbringing, relationships with his family and others, are likely to have affected him, just as they do anyone. Parenting mistakes are sometimes – often – made. Should parents (and teachers, mentors etc.) be blamed for how their children turn out? Partially. They can’t foresee how the child is going to turn out and what they’ll do, but they can be criticized for any perceived mistakes in parenting. Is a mistake worse if the child turns out to be, say, a serial killer? Not really.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. halfwit36 on said:

    Dear Viscountess (how does one address a Viscountess? Your Ladyship?) It’s good to know that I am not completely responsible for how I turned out; it was my parents who did it to me. And of course they were not responsible, but their parents were, and so forth, back to …when?
    I’m not really enchanted with psychoanalysis as practiced today. It seems to let the truly insane slip through the cracks. But it is harmless, I guess, when applied to people who have been dead for 500 years – even sort of fun.
    You surely did open up a can of worms with this article. I agree; Henry is an enigma. It’s hard to get a grip on him – slippery as an eel. (It’s too early in the day for me to come up with a more original metaphor.)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. halfwit36 on said:

    I am working on a review of the Cicely Plantagenet trilogy. Would you like to see it? Are you BRAVE enough to see it? (Actually, it’s not really scary.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • viscountessw on said:

      Thank you for reviewing the books. Having had just about every response going, I’ve now learned to place a large pile of mattresses at the foot of the Tower, for a soft landing. It may or may not please you to know there is a fourth book coming out in September, Cicely’s Sovereign Secret. You can reach me at sandraheath@blueyonder.co.uk.

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      • halfwit36 on said:

        I am pleased to know about Cicely’s Sovereign Secret. Can’t wait to find out what it is – just hope my eyes hold out till the end of the series! Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Matt W on said:

    Very good. Agreed.

    Like

  17. halfwit36 on said:

    Viscountess, check your e-mail, please.

    Like

  18. viscountessw on said:

    Thank you, halfwit36. Have done, and replied to you.

    Like

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