King Henry VII

HENRY VII (1457–1509), king of England, was the son of Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond, by his marriage with Margaret Beaufort [q. v.], only daughter of John, duke of Somerset, and undoubted heiress of John of Gaunt [q. v.] His grandfather, Sir Owen Tudor, was a Welsh knight, who married Catherine, widow of Henry V, and traced back his descent to Cadwallader and the old British kings. Henry was born at Pembroke Castle on the feast of St. Agnes the Second (28 Jan. 1457). His father had died more than two months before, and his mother was not quite fourteen years old when she gave birth to him. Being an only son he was Earl of Richmond from his birth. He was brought up in Wales under the care of his uncle, Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembroke; for though Edward IV obtained the crown when Henry was four years old, the Lancastrian party still held possession of various Welsh castles until the surrender of Harlech in 1468. Young Henry seems to have been taken prisoner in that fortress when it was won by William, lord Herbert, who was created Earl of Pembroke (d. 1469) [q. v.] Pembroke became Henry’s guardian, and desired to marry him to his daughter Maud. In 1470 Edward IV was driven from his throne, and Henry VI restored. Henry was now reclaimed by his uncle Jasper, who took him up to London and presented him to King Henry. According to a tradition preserved in Shakespeare, the king, struck with his intelligent looks, remarked: ‘Lo, surely this is he to whom both we and our adversaries shall hereafter give place.’

He was now in his fourteenth year. His childhood had been delicate, and he had been moved about in Wales a good deal for the sake of his health. Great care, however, had been taken with his education, and one of his tutors, Andreas Scotus, reported in after years to Bernard Andreas [q. v.] that he had never seen a boy of so much quickness in learning.

In 1471 Edward IV recovered his throne. It was no longer safe for Henry to remain in Wales, and his uncle Jasper took him across the sea, meaning to convey him to France. The wind, however, compelled them to land in Brittany, where they found an asylum with Duke Francis II. The death of Henry VI and of his son Prince Edward had made Henry the head of the house of Lancaster, and an object of jealousy to Edward IV. Edward applied for him to the Duke of Brittany, professing that he did not intend to keep him as a prisoner, but to marry him to one of his own daughters. The duke at one time had actually delivered him up to an English embassy, when he was persuaded to revoke the order, and Henry was released. He remained in Brittany during the whole of Edward’s reign. But Edward’s death in 1483, and the murder of his two sons by the usurper Richard, removed from the field almost every rival belonging to the house of York who could dispute his pretensions, so that he became the natural leader of any movement to relieve England from Richard’s tyranny. This was admitted by Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham, who would otherwise have aspired to the crown himself, in conversation with his prisoner, John Morton, bishop of Ely: the duke also declared himself willing to assist the Earl of Richmond’s claim if he would engage to marry Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV, and so unite the titles of York and Lancaster. Morton at once entered eagerly into the project, and helped the duke to organise in secret a rebellion against Richard, which was to be aided by the landing of Richmond with troops from Brittany. A simultaneous rising actually took place, as agreed, on 18 Oct. 1483 all over the south of England. Buckingham raised his standard at Brecknock; but a great flood in the Severn prevented him from joining his allies, and Henry’s expedition, though aided by the Duke of Brittany with fifteen ships and a force of five thousand Bretons, was dispersed by a storm at sea. Henry’s own vessel did indeed approach Poole, but the coast was lined with armed men, who vainly endeavoured to lure him ashore by pretending to be friends of Buckingham. He recrossed the Channel to Normandy, and after three days returned by land to Brittany.

We are told by Polydore Vergil and the chroniclers that he sent to Charles VIII for a safe-conduct, in expectation of which he sent home his ships and began his journey, and that his messengers soon returned, bringing both the safe-conduct and money for his expenses. He had already arrived in Brittany by 30 Oct., on which day he gave the Duke of Brittany a receipt for a loan of ten thousand crowns of gold, dated at Paimpol, near Brehat (Addit. MS. 19398, f. 33, Brit. Mus.). He could hardly have known at that time of the complete failure of the rebellion in England. Presently, however, he heard that Thomas Grey, marquis of Dorset [q. v.], and other friends had escaped like himself to Brittany, and were at Vannes. He summoned them to a council at Rennes, where it was decided to make another attempt on a favourable opportunity, and on Christmas day they all bound themselves to each other and to Henry at Rennes Cathedral, he making solemn oath to marry the Princess Elizabeth after obtaining the crown. He also took counsel with the duke, who promised him future aid.

Brittany, however, was professedly on friendly terms with England, and Richard III sent to the duke to demand Henry’s delivery. The duke, who suffered occasionally from mental derangement, could transact no business, and his unpopular minister, Pierre Landois, would have given up the refugee. But Bishop Morton despatched Christopher Urswick into Brittany to give Henry warning. Henry at once directed his uncle Jasper, earl of Pembroke, to collect a few of his friends and secretly make his way with them into France. He himself, after journeying by zigzag routes to avoid pursuit, joined them in Anjou. His flight was not discovered for some time, as there were about three hundred Englishmen still in Vannes who were not privy to his purpose; but it is said he had only passed the frontier in disguise one hour before the arrival of the horsemen sent in pursuit of him. The Duke of Brittany afterwards assisted Henry’s other friends to join him in France.

Henry meanwhile repaired to Charles VIII at Langeais, and being encouraged by the French council (for Charles was then a minor) to look for further support, followed the court to Montargis, and afterwards to Paris. In England, however, Richard III succeeded in persuading the queen-dowager Elizabeth Widville or Woodville to come out of sanctuary with her daughters. Richard’s queen died on 16 March 1485, and it was rumoured that Richard intended to marry Elizabeth, his eldest niece. Henry began seriously to think of another match for himself, but Richard was compelled by public clamour to disown the design imputed to him. Meanwhile Henry was joined by many English refugees in France and by the Earl of Oxford, who had been a prisoner in Hammes Castle. The captain of Hammes not only released him, but declared for the Earl of Richmond. The castle, however, was besieged in consequence by the whole garrison of Calais, and compelled to surrender.

With the aid of the English refugees and a body of troops given him by the French king, Henry at length embarked at Harfleur, 1 Aug. 1485, and within a week landed at Milford Haven. His company only numbered two thousand men, but he relied greatly on his Welsh countrymen, very many of whom joined him on his way to Shrewsbury. He also summoned to his aid Lord Stanley and his brother Sir William, who were powerful in Cheshire and Lancashire. Lord Stanley was his stepfather, having recently married his mother, the Lady Margaret. The latter, though deprived of her lands by Richard for conspiring in her son’s favour, was allowed to live in seclusion, her husband being security for her good behaviour. Lord Stanley was afraid to join Henry, as he had received a similar summons from Richard, and had been obliged to leave his son Lord Strange in Richard’s hands. Sir William Stanley also temporised. Many others came over to Henry, who at last took up a position near Bosworth in Leicestershire, where with five thousand men, protected by a rivulet on the left and a morass on the right and in front of him, he awaited the attack (22 Aug.). After about two hours’ fighting Richard endeavoured to single out his enemy, when Sir William Stanley, who had viewed the action from a neighbouring hill, brought his men into the field to Henry’s aid. Richard was surrounded and killed. He had gone into battle wearing his crown upon his head. This was afterwards found and set upon Henry’s head by Lord Stanley.

Having sent Sir Robert Willoughby to Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire, to bring up the Princess Elizabeth and the young Earl of Warwick to London, Henry advanced thither himself, and entered the city on Saturday, 3 Sept. (Harl. MS. 541, f. 217 b). A severe visitation of the sweating sickness delayed Henry’s coronation at Westminster till 30 Oct. Three days before he made twelve knights-bannerets at the Tower; promoted his uncle Jasper, earl of Pembroke, to the dukedom of Bedford; created his stepfather, Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby; and Sir Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon. He also instituted a bodyguard to attend him—a new institution after a French model. Parliament met in November following and confirmed his title to the crown. On 10 Dec. both houses petitioned the king to fulfil his promise to marry the Princess Elizabeth, which he accordingly did on 18 Jan. 1486. In March he left London without his queen on a progress through the eastern counties to York, where he was received with acclamations; but he was warned of danger on the road, and was nearly captured in York itself by a conspiracy of Lord Lovell and Humphrey and Thomas Stafford, who since the battle of Bosworth had lived in sanctuary at Colchester. Lord Lovell escaped to Lancashire, Humphrey Stafford was hanged at Tyburn, and his younger brother Thomas was pardoned. Henry went on to Worcester, where Bishop Alcock preached before him on Whit-sunday, and after the sermon declared certain bulls received from Rome in confirmation of the king’s title and of his marriage. The king then visited Bristol and returned to London in June. He ended by coming from Sheen to Westminster by water, and was accompanied from Putney downward by the lord mayor and citizens in barges. Shortly afterwards he went westward again hunting, and took his queen to Winchester, where on 20 Sept. she gave birth to a son, who was christened Arthur (1486–1502) [q. v.]

Next year took place the imposture of Lambert Simnel personating Edward (1475–1499) [q. v.], the young earl of Warwick, eldest son of George, duke of Clarence, whom Henry had shut up in the Tower. Simnel met with extraordinary success in Ireland, where he was crowned as Edward VI, and invaded England with Gerald Fitzgerald, eighth earl of Kildare [q. v.], and a number of Irish followers, and a band of Germans supplied by Margaret, duchess of Burgundy, whose hostility to Henry caused her to be called his Juno. On the first news of the conspiracy, Henry called a council at Sheen and caused the real Warwick to be taken out of the Tower and shown in the streets. He also took a strange resolution to deprive his own mother-in-law, Elizabeth Widville or Woodville [q. v.], of her jointure lands, for some unknown indiscretion, so that she retired to Bermondsey Abbey for the rest of her days. But he conferred her lands on the queen, her daughter. The rebels landed in Lancashire and endeavoured to raise Yorkshire, but meeting with little encouragement, advanced southwards towards Newark; they were utterly defeated by the king himself at Stoke, near Newark (16 June 1487). Kildare and Simnel were taken prisoners; not one of the other leaders was seen alive after. Henry went on to Lincoln, where he ordered thanksgiving for the victory, and from there to York and Newcastle, causing strict inquiry to be made as he went along for persons guilty of encouraging or even sympathising with the rebels. He punished the suspected persons for the most part by fines, but in serious cases with death. From Newcastle he sent his faithful friend Richard Foxe [q. v.], whom he had made bishop of Exeter, and Sir Richard Edgcumbe (d. 1489) [q. v.] on an embassy to James III of Scotland to prolong the existing truce and arrange some marriages between the two royal families. But these projects were completely frustrated next year by the overthrow and death of the Scottish king in a rebellion of his nobles.

In the autumn he returned southwards, and was at Leicester when he received an embassy from Charles VIII, sent to explain the reasons of the French king’s attack on the duchy of Brittany. He arrived in London 3 Nov. 1487, and was received like a conqueror. Parliament met on the 9th, and the queen was crowned on the 25th with great splendour at Westminster. This parliament, besides taking measures for the repression of crime and punishment of rebellion, may almost be said to have instituted the court of Star-chamber. It also voted a subsidy, which was probably felt to be all the more necessary as the king might soon be called on to take active steps in aid of Brittany; for the French had invaded the duchy and shut up the duke for a time in Nantes—action which aroused no small feeling in England. In the following spring Sir Edward Widville or Woodville, commonly called Lord Woodville, the queen’s uncle, being governor of the Isle of Wight, went over unauthorised with a band of volunteers in aid of the duke. Henry endeavoured to pursue a peaceful course, and not only repudiated Lord Woodville’s act, but prolonged for one year the truce with France, which would have expired in January 1489. He, however, sought to act as mediator. But he had scarcely signed the renewal of the truce when the power of Brittany was completely crushed at the battle of St. Aubin, 28 July 1488, where Lord Woodville was slain with nearly all his band. The Duke of Brittany next month made peace with France, and died within three weeks.

Englishmen were still extremely anxious to preserve the independence of the duchy, which now descended to the late duke’s daughter Anne, a girl of twelve. Various marriage projects were already formed for her by her guardian, Marshal de Rieux, with a view to an alliance against France. Henry sent men in aid of the duchy, purely for defensive purposes so long as his truce lasted, prepared, however, or rather preparing himself by alliances with other powers, to make war on France if necessary as soon as it expired.

In November 1488 Henry called a great council at Westminster, and immediately afterwards (11 Dec.) sent embassies to France, Brittany, Burgundy, Maximilian, king of the Romans, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and John II of Portugal, all on the same day. In January 1489 a new parliament met, and granted him another subsidy for a force of ten thousand archers for defence of the kingdom. When the commissioners began to levy it in Yorkshire they were openly resisted, and the Earl of Northumberland, who came to support their authority, was slain on 28 April. The king, who was then at Hertford receiving embassies, first sent against them Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey, whom he had recently liberated from the Tower, where he had been imprisoned since Bosworth Field, and he followed himself on 22 May. The insurrection was prolonged for a while under Sir John Egremont and John à Chamber [q. v.], but Egremont soon fled to Flanders, and Chamber fell into Surrey’s hands. The king accordingly returned southwards and established a council for the government of the north under Surrey.

Meanwhile the French had taken several places in Brittany, and would have conquered it entirely but for the aid sent to the duchy by England and the hostile action of Maximilian and Ferdinand of Spain. Several fortresses were put into the hands of the English to guarantee repayment of expenses. Henry also sent troops to the Low Countries in aid of Maximilian against the French. He thus compelled the latter to raise the siege of Dixmude, where their success would have endangered Calais. Charles VIII found it advisable to make a separate peace with Maximilian, which he soon after compelled the Duchess of Brittany to accept. He also sent frequent embassies to England to persuade Henry to withdraw his troops from the duchy and make peace with him; but Henry refused, and induced the duchess to throw herself again on his protection. Chieregato, bishop of Concordia, the papal nuncio in France, now went to England as mediator (1490), but failed to adjust matters. Henry, although he had no desire to go to war with France, stood engaged, not only to Brittany and to Maximilian, but also to Spain, which had been urging a warlike policy upon him from the first. The Duchess Anne soon relieved him of his difficulty respecting Brittany by marrying Charles VIII and becoming queen of France (6 Dec. 1491).

Henry, however, was already preparing, in fulfilment of his pledges, to make war on France, in concert with Maximilian and Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. His subjects warmly sympathised in the object, and he was able to raise a ‘benevolence’ for the purpose, although that kind of exaction had been abolished by a statute of Richard III. He also obtained a further grant from parliament. In October 1492, though his allies were unready, and he had allowed the best part of the year to pass, he crossed the sea and laid siege to Boulogne. The town had been well fortified; the besiegers only wasted their efforts, and offers were made to them by the French king for peace. Charles agreed to pay the whole of the expenses which Henry had incurred for the defence of Brittany, and two years’ arrears of a pension due to England by the treaty of Amiens, at the rate of fifty thousand francs a year. A treaty to this effect was signed at Etaples, 3 Nov., and the army returned to England, to the disgust of many who had burdened their estates to provide the means for this almost bloodless campaign.

In February 1492 Perkin Warbeck landed in Ireland, asserting himself to be Richard, duke of York, and claiming the crown of England as only surviving son of Edward IV. He had been invited from Ireland to the French court just before the war broke out; but by the peace of Etaples Charles was compelled to forbid his remaining in France, and he took refuge in the Low Countries with Margaret, duchess of Burgundy, who received him as her nephew. There he remained for two years, drawing towards him a number of disaffected Yorkists out of England; and Henry in vain requested the council of Philip, archduke of Austria, who, as duke of Burgundy, was the nominal ruler of those parts, to give him up or banish him. The archduke’s council replied that they had no power to interfere with Margaret in the lands of her jointure; and Henry, seeing no other means of redress, endeavoured, to the irritation of the London Hanse merchants, to stop the trade between England and Flanders and to set up a mart for English cloth at Calais. He also kept careful watch against conspiracies, and obtained information through spies of the designs formed by the Yorkists, both in England and in the Low Countries. Sir Robert Clifford went into Flanders as a Yorkist, and won the confidence of the intriguers. On his return to England he impeached, among others, Sir William Stanley, as somehow implicated in the plot. Just before, Lord Fitzwalter, Sir Simon Montfort, and a number of the other intriguers in England were suddenly arrested, tried, and condemned for treason. Only four were sent to the block, and Fitzwalter would have been spared but for his attempt to escape. Stanley was beheaded on 14 Feb. 1495.

These arrests and executions disconcerted the Yorkists and delayed Perkin’s projected invasion of England till July 1495, when Perkin, with a little fleet supplied to him by Maximilian and Margaret of Burgundy, appeared off Deal and landed some of his followers. But the country people attacked them with hearty goodwill, took many of them prisoners, and drove the rest back to their ships. Perkin then sailed to Ireland. In 1494 Henry had sent thither Sir Edward Poynings and a staff of English officials, who sent prisoner into England Gerald Fitzgerald (d. 1513) [q. v.], the powerful Earl of Kildare, and passed the celebrated Poynings law, by which the whole system of government and legislation was directly brought under the control of the English council. Perkin therefore found little support in Ireland, and sailed to Scotland, where he was well received by James IV. He stayed nearly two years at the Scottish court, and married a high-born Scottish lady. In September 1496 James invaded England along with him in support of his pretensions. But though Warbeck put forth a proclamation as King Richard IV, the expedition proved a brief and insignificant border raid.

In 1496 Henry, after much solicitation, especially on the part of Spain, joined the Holy league for keeping the French out of Italy. Ferdinand and Isabella, anxious for his active co-operation, sought to relieve him from the hostility of Scotland by sending thither an accomplished diplomatist named Don Pedro de Ayala, whose efforts helped much to mitigate old prejudices between England and Scotland and to promote alliance and friendship. Henry himself was entirely disposed towards peace, and was willing to give his eldest daughter Margaret to the Scottish king. Ayala warmly promoted the scheme; but Henry made the surrender of Warbeck, who was still in Scotland, a necessary condition of any peace. At length, in July 1497, James dismissed his guest, who took shipping at Ayr for Ireland. Nevertheless James immediately afterwards made another raid into England and besieged Norham. The place was strongly garrisoned, and England was well prepared for war. In the beginning of the year parliament had granted the king a subsidy for defence against the Scots, and the council had agreed to his raising a loan besides. The Earl of Surrey, at the head of a large army, drove James into Scotland, and at Ayton on 30 Sept. compelled him to agree to a seven years’ truce.

The levying of this loan and subsidy had again created discontent. The Cornishmen rose in revolt under Thomas Flammock [q. v.], a lawyer, and Michael Joseph, a blacksmith. James Tuchet, lord Audley [q. v.], led them to Blackheath. The king was taken by surprise, and he had to recall a force that he was sending against the Scots under Giles, lord Daubeney [q. v.], while he himself went westward as far as Woodstock. At Blackheath Lord Daubeney gained a complete victory over the rebels on 17 June 1497. Lord Audley and the two other ringleaders were executed, but the other survivors of the insurgents were pardoned.

About a month later Warbeck landed in Ireland, where, as before, he made little progress. But the lenity shown by the king after Blackheath encouraged disaffection, and the impostor landed in Cornwall in September. He soon found himself at the head of three thousand men, and laid siege to Exeter; but, hearing that troops were coming against him, he took sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey in Hampshire. Henry passed on to Exeter, where he was received with joy, and presented his own sword to the mayor in acknowledgment of the city’s loyalty. Perkin’s wife was taken at St. Michael’s Mount, and Henry caused her to be well treated and sent to his queen. The adventurer himself, being assured of his life, surrendered and made a full confession of his imposture at London. Henry appointed commissioners to impose fines on all who had in any way aided the rebellion. Perkin made a foolish attempt at escape, and was sent to the Tower. But a new pretender, Ralph Wilford, soon after personated the Earl of Warwick, and was hanged in February 1499. And, whether it were owing to these repeated Yorkist conspiracies or to some darker thoughts of his own, it was remarked soon after that Henry had come to look twenty years older within a fortnight. A few months later it was found that Warbeck had been tampering with his gaolers, and had been able to send messages to Warwick and draw him into a plot for the liberation of both of them from the Tower. Hereupon Perkin was hanged at Tyburn on 23 Nov. Warwick, too, was tried for treason and beheaded [see Edward, Earl of Warwick], a tyrannical act done under the mere semblance of law. Warwick’s imprisonment all along had been unjust. But with his death the male line of the house of York was extinct, and Henry had less to fear from the rival faction.

Henry had built for himself, or paid the prior of Sheen to build for him, a sumptuous residence on the Thames, named Sheen Palace, which soon after its completion was, on 21 Dec. 1497, burnt almost to the ground. It was soon rebuilt with greater magnificence than before, and Henry then called it Richmond, after the title which he had borne before he was king; by this name the place has been known ever since.

In the spring of 1498 the king was at Canterbury when a heretical priest suffered at the stake. By the king’s exhortation he was induced to recant before his death, ‘whereof,’ says an old chronicler, ‘his Grace got great honor’ (Cott. MS. Vitell. A. xvi. f. 172; Excerpta Historica, p. 117).

The seven years’ truce with Scotland was nearly undone a year after it was concluded by an affray which took place at Norham in 1498, owing to the imprudence of some Scottish gentlemen who were taken for spies. James demanded redress, and was not easily pacified by the most conciliatory answers; but he willingly received as ambassador Richard Foxe, bishop of Durham, who convinced him of Henry’s real anxiety for peace, and undertook to promote anew the project of his marriage with Henry’s daughter Margaret. In July 1499 the truce was superseded by a treaty of peace to last so long as either James or Henry should live, and for one year after the survivor’s death. On 11 Sept. following Foxe succeeded in negotiating the marriage.

In 1500, while a plague was raging in different parts of England, Henry went over to Calais, where, after some messages had passed between him and the Archduke Philip, they had a personal interview just outside the town, and agreed to confirm old treaties and remove restrictions on commerce between England and the Low Countries. Two cross marriages were also arranged between their children, neither of which came to effect, though one was still in treaty for some years after Henry’s death. This was the year of jubilee at Rome, in which indulgences were given to all who visited the holy see. But the pope likewise sent to England a commissioner named Jasper Pons to dispense the same favours to those who were willing to compound for the journey by a payment. The sums thus collected were to be applied to a crusade against the Turks, who were a serious danger to Italy, and Henry was even asked by the pope to join the expedition in person. He made a curious reply, excusing himself by the remoteness of England from Turkey; but he ultimately gave the nuncio 4,000l., after corresponding with Ferdinand of Spain as to the best means of preventing his holiness from misapplying the money.

In October 1501 came to England Catherine of Arragon [q. v.], daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, whose marriage with the king’s eldest son, Arthur, had been for many years a subject of negotiation. It took place at St. Paul’s on 14 Nov., and the young couple were after a time sent down to the borders of Wales, where, on 2 April following, the bridegroom died. Next year (11 Feb. 1503) Henry also lost his queen in childbed; but in June following he conducted his daughter Margaret from Richmond to his mother’s residence, Collyweston in Northamptonshire, on her way to Scotland, where she was married to James IV on 8 Aug.

In July 1499 Henry had been disquieted by the flight of Edmund de la Pole, earl of Suffolk [q. v.] , to Calais. After Warwick, Suffolk was the lineal heir to the pretensions of the house of York, and his elder brother, the Earl of Lincoln, had fought for Lambert Simnel. Edmund, however, had done good service at Blackheath, and had been treated with favour; but in 1498 he was arraigned for homicide in the king’s bench, having killed a man in a passion, and, though he received the king’s pardon, he seems to have remained disaffected. The king, when sending Sir Richard Guildford and Richard Hatton to the archduke, instructed them to see Suffolk on their way, and they induced him to return to England. But in 1501 he again abruptly left England and fled to the Emperor Maximilian, who had promised a friend of his to aid him to obtain the crown. He was welcomed by Maximilian in the Tyrol, but on 20 June 1502 a treaty was made between Henry and Maximilian, and confirmed by the latter on 28 July, by which Henry gave the emperor 10,000l. in aid against the Turks, and the emperor promised not to receive English rebels of whatever rank. Suffolk accordingly had to seek other protectors, but Henry had so many allies upon the continent that hardly any country now was safe for him. In 1504 he was made prisoner by the Duke of Gueldres, who handed him over in 1505 to Philip, archduke of Austria, then king of Castile.

On the death of Prince Arthur in 1502 the Spanish sovereigns demanded restitution of the dowry that Catherine brought with her to England; but to this Henry considered himself in no wise bound. The Spanish sovereigns were ready, however, to settle the dispute by marrying Catherine to Arthur’s younger brother Henry when he should come of age. To this in itself Henry was not ill inclined, but he was determined not to agree to it until the Spanish sovereigns expressly renounced all claim in any event to the restitution of the dowry. While things were in this state Henry became a widower, and immediately made a monstrous proposal to marry his own daughter-in-law himself. Her mother Isabella was greatly shocked, and wrote to her ambassador not to press the demand for restitution of the dowry, but to get Catherine by all means back to Spain. The result was that a treaty was immediately agreed to in England for Catherine’s marriage with her late husband’s brother, with an express renunciation by Ferdinand and Isabella of all claim to restitution of the dowry, and it was confirmed by each of the Spanish sovereigns separately in the following September.

In 1504 Isabella of Castile died, and her kingdom descended by inheritance to her daughter Joanna and Joanna’s husband, the Archduke Philip. Henry was deeply interested to know how much authority over Castile Ferdinand still possessed as governor in the absence of the new king and queen, and in 1505 he sent three gentlemen to Spain mainly to report on this subject, though ostensibly to offer terms for an alliance against France to which he had been much solicited. They were also instructed to visit Valencia, where two dowager queens of Naples (mother and daughter) lived, and to make careful observations, in reply to a regular set of questions by no means delicate, of the stature, complexion, and personal qualities generally of the younger lady, who had been suggested by Queen Isabella as a second wife to Henry to divert him from the thought of her daughter. The inquiries on this head were satisfactory, except as regards the young queen’s jointure. As to Ferdinand’s position in Castile, Henry’s agents satisfied him that the nobles there were anxious for Philip’s coming to emancipate them from his control.

In January 1506 Philip and Joanna actually set sail for their new kingdom; but meeting with a violent storm on the way they were obliged to land in Dorsetshire. Henry at once invited them to Windsor, where he showed them every attention, made Philip a knight of the Garter, and led him to sign a treaty of alliance which involved the surrender of Suffolk. A treaty of commerce was also arranged between England and the Low Countries, which the Flemings called the Intercursus Malus, as it was so much in favour of the English merchants. Suffolk was brought to England just after Philip’s departure, and thrown into the Tower. Henry promised Philip to spare his life, and did so, though he was put to death by Henry VIII in 1513.

Philip died in Spain in September 1506, and Henry immediately offered to marry his widow, with a view to becoming master of Castile. The lady was insane, as Henry knew, and her father Ferdinand certainly did not wish him for a rival in the peninsula; but Ferdinand promised, if she could be induced to listen to any project of marriage, that she should have no other husband than Henry. The scheme, however, was not seriously entertained on either side, and Henry endeavoured to attain his object otherwise by marrying his daughter Mary to Philip’s son Charles (afterwards the emperor Charles V), which was one of the matches proposed at the interview between him and Philip at Calais, although the parties were still mere children. Relations were becoming strained between Henry and Ferdinand, and it was said in Spain that Henry was collecting a fleet to invade Castile. Matters went no further, however, than a war of diplomacy. Ferdinand made alliance with France, which dragged him into the league of Cambray against Venice; while Henry made treaties with Maximilian, and endeavoured to negotiate for himself a marriage with the emperor’s daughter, Margaret of Savoy, which would have placed the government of the Low Countries in his hands.

A great embassy came over from Flanders towards the close of 1508, and the marriage of Mary to Prince Charles of Castile was celebrated by proxy on 17 Dec. But the king’s health now began to decline under complicated infirmities. He discharged the debts of all prisoners in London committed for sums under 40s., and expressed remorse for the extortions practised under his authority by the notorious Sir Richard Empson [q. v.] and Edmund Dudley [q. v.], but they nevertheless continued till his death. He died at Richmond on 21 April 1509. Out of a family of seven, one son and two daughters survived him.

Henry was called the Solomon of England, being accounted one of the wisest princes of his time, yet even of his diplomacy (of which we know more than of his private life) the records are very scanty at home. Our knowledge, however, has been largely increased of late years by researches in foreign archives, which confirm the general impression given of it in Bacon’s history. Churchmen and lawyers were Henry’s principal agents. The latter were the chief instruments of his extortions, which were the principal blot on his reign. He was a great patron of commerce, and under his encouragement the Cabots discovered Newfoundland. Literature also interested him, and he recommended Caxton to translate and print ‘The Fayts of Armes and Chivalry.’ Of his magnificence in building the chapel which bears his name at Westminster remains a witness. It was designed as a shrine for Henry VI.

Thirteen portraits and two miniatures of Henry were shown in the Tudor Exhibition, 1890 (see catalogue). They included two by Jan de Mabuse, lent by Captain J. Bagot and Earl Brownlow. A painting of his marriage by the same artist was lent by Mrs. Dent of Sudeley; this was formerly in the Strawberry Hill collection. There are portraits at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at Christ Church, Oxford. At Windsor there is a painting of Henry VII and his family with St. George and the Dragon (engraved in ‘Archæologia,’ xlix. 246), and also a miniature executed by Nicholas Hilliard in 1609. A cartoon of Henry VII and Henry VIII, made by Holbein in 1537 for his fresco painting in the privy chamber at Whitehall (destroyed in 1698), is in the possession of the Marquis of Hartington.

[Memorials of Henry VII (Rolls Ser.); Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII (Rolls Ser.); Polydori Virgilii Historia Anglica; Hall’s Chron.; Fabyan’s Chron.; Cott. MS. Vitellius A. xvi.; Cal. State Papers (Spanish, vol. i. and Suppl.); Cal. State Papers (Venetian, vol. i.); Bacon’s Hist. of Henry VII; Cooper’s Memorials of Margaret, Countess of Richmond and Derby; Excerpta Historica, pp. 85–133.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 26
Henry VII by James Gairdner

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