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THE DEATH OF HENRY VII

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Henry VII on his deathbed : Wriothesley’s Heraldic Collection Vol 1 Book of Funerals.

And so, on 21 April 1509, Henry “Tudor” finally expired.  He had been ill, obviously, for some time and perhaps his death was something of a relief to him. I’m sure it was for the rest of the country who probably breathed a collective sigh of relief. He had managed to keep his bony posterior on the throne for 24 years since that diabolical day at Bosworth when an anointed king was slaughtered.  It does nothing for Henry’s  reputation that he allowed the dead king’s body to be horrendously  abused  as well as the ignoble and deplorable  act of having his reign  predated from the day before the battle. But no doubt there were some that lamented his passing especially his mother Margaret Beaufort, a  most highly acquisitive woman and probably one of the most greediest.     She adored him and the pair must hardly have been able to believe their luck that he had survived the battle unscathed, probably due to the fact that he took no active part in it.

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Unknown artist’s impression of Tudor being crowned in the aftermath of Bosworth..

It must have seemed surreal to him as he wandered through the dead kings apartments at Westminster that had now, overnight, become his.

 

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Bust of Henry VII : National Portrait Gallery

He had some worrying times with bothersome pretenders to the throne popping up with annoying regularity as well as various uprisings. Whether he was plagued by his conscience we do not  know although Margaret was prone to bursts of weeping at times when she should have been happy which must have been very tedious  for those around her.

However moving on from that , what actually did see Henry off?     His health seems to have gone into a decline when he reached his 30s.   His eyes began to trouble him and he tried various eye lotions and eye  baths  made of fennel water,  rosewater and celandine ” to make bright the sight” but to no avail ..his teeth were a source of trouble with Polydore Vergil describing him as having ‘teeth few, poor and blackish’ (1).  His eye problems must have caused him dismay as he like nothing more than to pour over his account books to see where the pennies were going and how much he was amassing. He was predeceased by his wife, whom it is said he was fond of, and four children including his oldest son and  heir,  Arthur,  but fortunately for him,  if not the country and the Roman Catholic Church he had a surviving spare.

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Henry VII death mask: Westminster Abbey

 

In his interesting book, The Death of Kings, Clifford Brewer writes   “Henry had developed a chronic cough which was particularly severe in springtime.  The  condition became progressively more severe and associated with loss of weight and a general wasting . In 1507 and 1508  Henry’s spring cough become more troublesome.  He  is described as having become troubled with a tissic,  or cough,  he also suffered from mild gout.  In his Life of Henry the VII , Bacon writes ‘ in the two and 20th year of his reign in 1507 he began to be troubled with a gout but the defluxation  taking also unto his breast wasted his lungs so that thrice in a year in a kind of return and especially in the spring he had great fits and labours of the tissick’.   This suggests that Henry suffered from chronic fibroid phthisis ( chronic tuberculosis infection)  which became more and more active with  resultant wasting and debility.  This  is found in several of the members of the Tudor line…Henry made a great effort to attend divine service on Easter Day 1509 but he was exhausted and retired to his palace at Richmond where he died on 21 April  from chronic pulmonary tuberculosis (2)”

According to Holinshed Chronicle “….he was so wasted with his long malady that nature could no longer  sustain his life and so he departed out of this world the two and 20th of April’.

Thomas Penn in his biography of Henry, The Winter King, describes Henry as ‘unable to eat and struggling for breath,  Henry’s mind was fixated on the hereafter …on Easter Sunday 8th April,  emaciated and in intense pain he staggered into his privy closet, where he dropped to his knees and crawled  to receive the sacrament… later as Henry lay amid mounds of pillows,  cushions and bolsters,  throat rattling,  gasping for breath,  he mumbled again and again that  ‘ if it please God to send him life they should find him a very changed man’.  Henry  made an exemplary  death,  eyes fixed intensely on the crucifix held out before him,  lifting his head up feebly  towards it,  reaching out and enfolding in his thin arms,  kissing it fervently,  beating it repeatedly upon his chest.   Fisher said that Henry’s promises took a very specific form.  If he lived, Henry promised a true reformation of all them that were officers and ministers of his laws (3)’.  However,  as they say , man makes plans and the gods laugh and Henry did not survive to bring about the changes he  was so eager on his death bed to make.  He had left it too late.

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Richmond Palace, Wynguerde c.1558-62 

And so Henry Tudor shuffled off this mortal coil..the King is dead, long live the King..and so begun the reign of his son..Henry VIII..and that dear reader is another story.

 

 

 

 

  1. The Death of Kings, p110 Clifford Brewer.
  2. ibid p110.111
  3. Winter King Thomas Penn p339

 

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Henry Tudor and Richard’s eldest niece….

model of London Bridge

Last night on the Yesterday channel, I again watched the TV documentary Henry VII: Winter King, present by Thomas Penn.  It’s still good, although, dealing as it does with Henry’s character, it necessarily skirted around some of the other folk.

For instance, I was again left with the impression that Penn believes Elizabeth of York planned all along for a marriage to Henry Tudor. This I cannot imagine. She was Edward IV’s eldest daughter, a princess who had hopes of a grand foreign match under Richard. Would she really settle for a lowish Lancastrian chap of Beaufort stock, who was no longer even Earl of Richmond, and who had a price on his rather unlovely head to boot?

Thinking woman-to-woman here, for her to do that she would surely need to have at least clapped eyes on him and fallen passionately in love. But, unless he came over secretly for a tryst right under Richard’s nose, I cannot see how they could ever have met until after Bosworth. So we’re left with her choosing to throw in her lot with Henry at a complete distance, and without any real incentive. Let’s face it, he was not a likely prospect.

And if they did fall in love, it was surely a gradual thing, not a wild matter of the heart and hormones that made her wildly enthusiastic about leaping into his arms and bed from the moment the match was whispered.

I don’t doubt that others have different views about Elizabeth’s reasons for marrying Henry, and will be interested in hearing them.

I will add that she wasn’t forced to marry him. she could have said no, and there was not much he or anyone else could have done about it, except bundle her off to a nunnery and throw away the key. Or marry her to a stable boy for spite.

Plus, by giving Elizabeth into Margaret Beaufort’s charge before the marriage, he was (technically) guilty of abduction – yet another excuse for her to wriggle out of the match if she wanted to. But she didn’t. She went through with it. Why? Might she simply have been ambitious to be Queen of England – which she could never be while Richard was on the throne?

Would Tucker ‘write the wrong’ about Richard too….?

Young Henry VII - by a French artist

Maybe Murrey & Blue is not the place to post something that praises Henry VII, but nevertheless it makes interesting reading, if only because a second view shoots a lot of it down in flames.

Forty years ago M.J. Tucker wrote an article in History Today. http://www.historytoday.com/sites/default/files/henryvii_court.pdf Tucker praises Henry and cites many great minds of the time as proof of the king’s intelligence, perspicacity and the liveliness of his court. The author is keen to right the miserable wrong that has been done to Henry’s reputation.

In 2011, Thomas Penn commented upon Tucker’s article. http://www.historytoday.com/thomas-penn/learning-be-tudor He dissects Tucker’s assessment of Henry, pointing out that many of the quoted great minds were the same men who were responsible for pointing out Henry’s negative legacy. The first Tudor’s ‘constant preoccupation with his flimsy dynastic legitimacy’ is cited as being responsible for the increasing climate of terror that pervaded his reign.

It never ceases to be interesting how historians take differing views of the same subject. Tucker is pro-Henry, Penn finds fault. Both are interesting.

One regret stayed with me after reading them. How very sad that Richard was denied the chance to prove himself to history. If his son had not died, and if Bosworth had gone the other way, what might M.J. Tucker have written about his reign and court? He would surely be keen to right this wrong too. We will never know of course, because after two short years, cruel fate overtook the ‘last Plantagenet’, and thus overtook us as well. We can only yearn for what should have been . . . and grind our Yorkist teeth that Henry Tudor went on to rule for so long, in the process bequeathing to England the dazzling but monstrous ‘Tudor Age’.

Apart from a few minor details …

… David Starkey thinks that he has solved the mystery of the “Princes”.

The minor details are:
1) Tyrrell’s trial was for helping the de la Pole brothers, not to do with any “murder” of anyone at all.
2) The (fully documented by Thomas Penn) trial took place at the Guildhall, not the Tower. Henry VII “Tudor” and his wife effectively lived at the Tower, as they were waiting another 200 years fror Buckingham Palace to be built.
3) There was no confession by Tyrrell and no suggestion of one until after Henry VII’s death (see “As the King gave out” by Susan E. Leas).

Thanks to Annette Carson (http://www.annettecarson.co.uk/357052362).
Our original review of the programme: https://murreyandblue.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/review-of-the-princes-in-the-tower-channel-4/
Leas’ article was in the March 1977 Ricardian :http://www.richardiii.net/6_3_2_ricardian_index.php

The “Lincoln Roll” and the desperate sandbagging of the Cairo residents

You have probably heard of the “Lincoln Roll”. It resides at the John Rylands Institute of the University of Manchester. It shows the strength of the de la Pole claim to the throne (John of Lincoln being of that family) and the weakness of the “Tudor” claim, having been featured in Dr. Thomas Penn’s BBC2 “Winter King” documentary last year.

You have also probably noticed the progressive and accelerating collapse of the traditional fairy tale about Edward IV’s sons but the denialists are trying to resurrect it. Just last year, Amy Licence tried to link Richard III’s visit to a shrine in Canterbury with a guilty conscience for a particular “crime”, forgetting Richard’s heightened religious mindset. So her headline was “Shock as deeply religious King visits shrine”, along the lines of “Dog bites man” and “Exclusive: Pope is a Catholic”.

The latest sandbag is the attempt by one David Durose, a soi-disant “Tudor”ist, to interpret the Roll to prove that Edward’s sons died in c. 1483. There are just a few problems here:
Sloppy or convenient (Armstrongesque) translations of the Latin – if I had sons of twelve and ten, it would be very premature to call them youths. It also bypasses them through their illegitimacy.
It is clearly written in two different hands, much like the Croyland Chronicle was by a succession of writers. Much of the second part post-dates Lincoln’s death in mid-1487, detailing Henry VII’s children (of whom only Arthur had been born) and possibly even citing Edmund of Suffolk’s 1513 execution.

The “Lincoln Roll” was surely drafted, quite possibly on the continent, to publicise the claim of his younger brother, Lord Richard, who planned an invasion from France in the years before his death at Pavia in 1524-5. One of Richard of Shrewsbury’s possible subsequent identities, “Perkin”, was long dead by then but neither he nor his brother were relevant to Lord Richard. Having said that, this is the same Durose who wrote of Catherine de Valois addressing Parliament about her “remarriage”, many years after she died and centuries before a woman actually addressed Parliament about anything.

Another sandbag fails. Back to square one?

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