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Ok, time for part the second of our history lesson for the day. Pay close
attention boys and girls... ;-)
H7 was basically a genius at finances. He knew money. His strict financial
policies did a lot to make him unpopular, but they did, as I mentioned in my
previous post, make him very rich and very powerful. And when a king has
power and money, he doesn't need popularity.
He gained his wealth mainly through revenues. But it is to his credit that he
enacted *no* new revenues ("read my lips...") All he did was simply revive
old revenues that had gone unpaid during the Anarchy and were forgotten about.
Turns out a lot of noblemen owed the crown big time. As I said before, H7
came to the throne in debt but by the time he died he was the richest king in
Western Europe. He hired two men named Impson and Dudley to find all those
who owed him money from these revenues and to collect. Men paid, of course
(they didnt want to be called in front of Henry in court), but to give you an
idea of how unpopular this was, when H8 came to the throne, he succumbed to
popular will and almost immediately executed Impson and Dudley, who had made
his father rich.
H7 was smart in that he could "live of his own" which meant he could live off
of his hereditary revenues. He did not need to enact extra taxes (which could
only be passed by Parliament). Guess where this is going. . . that's right.
This means H7 basically did not need Parliament. In the 24 years of H7's
reign, Parliament met a grant total of 7 times! During the last 11 years,
they met only once! H7 was able to leave them by the wayside and rule as
England's king on his own.
Earlier, H7 had made an alliance with Spain against France, part of which
involved the marraige of his eldest son, Arthur, to the king of Spain's
daughter, Catharine of Aragon. In the last years of H7's life, this contract
came due and Catharine came to Wales, where she married Arthur. Poor Art was
always sickly and he died very soon after. For the next 7 years, H7 refused
to let Catharine go home, using her as a pawn in his political struggles. He
betrothed her to his next son, Henry, but they never wed. H7 even threatened
to marry her himself.
When H7 died in 1509, Catharine was 22 or 23. Henry, his son, was 18. He was
crowned Henry VIII and married Catharine. H8 came to the throne with power,
wealth, stability, and a valuable political marraige alliance. He brought the
cultural Rennasiance to the English throne. He was a patron of Arazmus,
gathered scholars at his courts, spoke 4 languages, wrote good music, was a
good athelete and dancer. . . he was also a *huge* spender and very
uneducated in politics. What he did do was to raise the monarchy above
everything else by creating this image of greatness and grandure surrounding
the throne. He restored the aura of kingship. But he did not rule well (at
first). Regents continued to rule in his place for nearly 10 years before H8
finally took the reigns. But it was his father that allowed him the luxury
of spending all that wealth and creating this grand image. History may not
record H7 as the royal spectacle that H8 was, but in my opinion he was a much
more effective leader.
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