Was Henry VII always so clever….?

drawing of young Henry VIIYet again, I tell you the old story of looking for one thing and happening on something else. This time an article that questions the ultimate effectiveness of Henry VII’s reign. Well, rather it raises questions that historians don’t seem to have asked before now. It is well worth reading, especially as there are links to other articles for those who follow our period.



  1. It should have mentioned that he was not a Lancastrian and he did not have a claim to the throne. That’s why he had to claim it by conquest. Even that is in doubt because it was actually De Vere and the Stanleys who won Bosworth for him as he didn’t fight and was hiding behind a pike wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not overlooked on this site, Jenny. Henry’s lack of blood right and valour has often been mentioned. He was not a blood-descent Lancastrian, and may not have been a Tudor either. There is a strong suggestion that he was entirely Beaufort. And he certainly cowered away from any chance of even being scratched in battle. Yet HE sat on the throne and Richard was hacked to death. Fate can be beyond reason.

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  2. If Henry was a Beaufort, then he was 100% Plantagenet. ‘Strong suggestions’ are not necessarily true, and if you assume they are, you are ‘begging the question.’ Don’t give ammunition to those who depict Ricardians as illogical


  3. Illogical? Thank you, halfwit36. If Henry was a Beaufort, he was also barred from the throne by Henry IV, who wanted to be sure that his originally illegitimate half-siblings were not permitted to wear the crown. So it doesn’t really matter whether they were Plantagenet or not.

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    1. IF Henry was a Beaufort. A possibility, not a certainty. How does claiming that he was differentate us from authors like Bicheno, who ‘knows’ that Edward IV was a bastard, and that is what made Richard the way he was?


      1. The difference is that I don’t pretend to “know” Henry was a thoroughgoing Beaufort, I merely wonder if there is any truth in the rumours. I made sure of saying “if”, which rather hints that I am reserving judgement. Not repeating and discussing these rumours/possibilities could be viewed as akin to censorship.

        And some things occur repeatedly that are NOT true. For instance, that Henry was a Lancastrian. He wasn’t. He was descended from John of Gaunt’s mistress and third wife, but Gaunt had become Duke of Lancaster through his first marriage. Only the children of that first marriage, to Blanche of Lancaster, were true blood Lancastrians. This is fact, but still the error is repeated that Henry was a Lancastrian. Blanche’s son by Gaunt, Henry IV, was a true Lancastrian, and he wasn’t having the Beaufort offspring of his father’s liaison (as it was when the Beauforts were born) with a mistress getting ideas above their station. He barred them. Full stop. It doesn’t matter that Henry’s predecessor, Richard II, legitimised them, Henry made a firm move to prevent them from ever aspiring to the throne.

        In my opinion, everything should be out in the open and discussed. Chewed upon, even. Including the nature of Henry Tudor’s right to the throne. He didn’t have one, except right of conquest. An option he took. He was rather reticent about the Beauforts, as well he might have been.

        And yes, I do know there is a Beaufort in Richard III’s descent from Gaunt, but the House of York’s main claim was from Lionel of Clarence, Edward III’s second son. Gaunt was only Edward’s third son. Game, set and match.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi Halfwit36, I know you get annoyed about the tabloid style parentage speculation that so often appears on this site – quite rightly, in my opinion. I think I can help you on the Swynford / Gaunt question.

        The intentionally induced confusion is based on two errors.

        1 John Beaufort was not born in 1371. Although there may be a couple of secondary or even tertiary sources that state this it is based on an error in reading a (primary source) grant to him in his 21st year. This is the customary dating of the act by the year of the reign of the monarch and does not say anything about the grantee ‘s age. The style of the writer is confirmed in other grants made in his (the King’s) nth year.

        2 Failure to test “theories” by examining the location of the individuals involved. Hugh Swynford was out of the country from summer of 1470 until his death in November 1471. Gaunt returned approximately at that time. So there could be no doubt as to Beaufort’s paternity – if he was Hugh’s he would have been born before Gaunt ‘s return.

        But since the dating of his birth to 1471 is unsound = wrong, the traditional story is supported by the Pope’s grant of legitimacy…

        I hope this helps


  4. No sources cited in the article, but it’s presumably based on Christine Carpenter’s book The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, c. 1437-1509 (Cambridge, 1997). As the article implies, Carpenter challenges many of the traditional assumptions about Henry VII – although I should perhaps add that she’s not a big fan of Richard III either!

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    1. That Henry VII was not a Lancastrian because he was not descended from Blanche of Lancaster was technically true. But considering the House of Lancaster as a political party or faction, he certainly was one. Duke of Lancaster, or anything of Lancaster, was a title he never claimed.
      It’s one thing to raise questions, another to act is if those questions are settled. Even those authors who regard Edward IV as the son of an archer do not call him Edward “Plantagenet.”
      Mary I and Elizabeth I were both declared illegitimate by the King (their father) We do not refer to them as “Mary I” or “Elizabeth I,” nor write about what horrible people they were, and how they deserved to die painful deaths – if only we had been there to see it happen!
      Sorry to disagree with the Viscountess and other posters on this site, but being a Ricardian has taught me to be almost automatically “agin it, whatever it is.”


      1. Then we agree to disagree, halfwit36. Not for the first time, and probably not the last. But I think you overdo my sins, and (honest puzzlement here) I don’t understand what you mean by Mary I and Elizabeth I not being referred to as Mary I and Elizabeth I.


      2. I need to self-correct here. Henry never claimed to be Duke of Lancaster (and nothing else) before 1485. After 1485, he could claim it, since that title was subsumed into the crown. Elizabeth II is still nominally Duke (not Duchess) of Lancaster


  5. David – it doesn’t matter how legitimate the Beauforts became, or when they were born, or who John Beaufort’s father may or may not have been, because they were still barred from the throne by their own senior half-brother, Henry IV. There is nothing intentionally misleading about that solid fact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps “David” is calling the late G.L.Harriss a “tabloid” writer – here is his piece on the Marquess of Dorset (http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-1861) , estimating his date of birth as 1371, although he didn’t realise the significance of his finding.
      Read in conjunction with the Complete Peerage, which also isn’t “tabloid”, it raises considerable doubts about the legal and biological attribution of Dorset’s paternity. Babies just don’t emerge on cue.

      I have to admit that I hadn’t previously heard about Sir Hugh Swynford’s actions in 1470-1. Perhaps he was fighting as a zombie at Barnet and Tewkesbury?

      Liked by 2 people

    2. My point was the quotation marks (inverted commas) around “Tudor,” because we all know he really wasn’t a Tudor. If Mary and Elizabeth had no right to the throne, per their father, to be consistent we would have to refer to them as “Mary I” and “Elizabeth I,” and the current monarch would be the real Elizabeth I.
      If Henry IV (a usurper) had a right to bar the Beauforts from the throne, then Henry VIII ( not a usurper, though his father was) had a similar right. Because the king can do no wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nope, he was fighting the French. In mid 1370, Gaunt was sent to Aquitaine to relieve the Black Prince. Gaunt was Swynford’s feudal overlord and Hugh was part of his army. Gaunt eventually took over the government of the Duchy, where he married in September 1471 and set off to return to England shortly after his wedding.

    Hugh never returned alive. He died in Aquitaine in November 1471.

    So for Beaufort to be born in 1471, he would have to have been conceived before both men left for war. Namely, early summer 1470. That would mean he would be born in spring, while Hugh was in Aquitaine and about 6 months before his death.


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