How did Henry VII use financial policy to strengthen royal authority?


A strong financial position would allow Henry to:

       Reward loyal service

       Bribe potential opponents

       Fund armies

       Allow his heir to fight any threats (thereby ensuring the security of the Tudor dynasty)

       Maintain a lavish court 


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What was Henry VII's financial objective?

achieve solvency by increasing royal income and decreasing expenditure to secure the dynasty.

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How did Henry VII develop the Crown’s finances?

1.     Improvement and development of sources of ordinary and extraordinary revenue 

2.     Development of councils and courts to improve the administration of finances. 

3.     Moved from the Exchequer to the Privy Chamber 

4.     Henry avoided foreign wars 

5.   spend more money at times in order to improve royal authority:


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2. Development of councils and courts to improve t

-        Use of Council Learned to enhance royal revenue. 

-        Established the new post of surveyor of the King’s Wards to investigate cases of money owed to him 

-        Established the Court of Audit to monitor government spending. 

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3. Moved from the Exchequer to the Privy Chamber

When Henry became king in 1485 Henry used the Exchequer to control his finances.The Exchequer had its own officials and had become clumsy and inefficient – a challenge for Henry if he needed money quickly.

So, Henry moved to using the Privy Chamber to manage the Crown’s finances. The Chamber was at the heart of Henry’s court and was under his direct supervision therefore he increased efficiency and personal control over financial administration. 

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spend more money at times in order to improve roya

  •        Henry did not have a standing army and his annual income was much less than his European rivals. Therefore, Henry had to appear a rich and powerful king, so spent money on a lavish court.
  •        Henry also loaned money to other leaders (Such as £226.000 and £342,000 to Emperor Maximillian in 1502 and 1509) in order to ensure the security of the country.
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How have historians interpreted Henry VII’s attitu

1. The primary evidence is not comprehensive

-        Only some account books have survived.

-        Different sources of evidence seem to contradict each other, e.g. one source may suggest that he was wealthy and another suggesting that he wasn’t.

The 2 interpretations: traditional and revisionist 

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Traditional interpretation of Henry’s financial po

·       Henry VII was a miser – obsessed with hoarding money. 

·       He transformed the Crown’s accounts and left vast sums of money for his son Henry VIII (Bacon estimated £1,800,000).

·       Based on contemporary writer Polydore Vergil and Francis Bacon’s History of the Reign of King Henry VII, (1602).

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Revisionist interpretation of Henry’s financial po

·       Henry was not a miser - spent money when necessary – especially to enhance the image of his kingship.

·       Henry inherited the Crown in the poor financial state and by end of his reign, the Crown was solvent.

·       Last few years of his life became more obsessed with amassing a fortune – perhaps to secure the Tudor dynasty for his son Henry. Left plate and jewels around £300,000 and £10,000 in cash. A substantial sum but not an extraordinary one.

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