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Assess the role of the nobility in providing political stability in Tudor England

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Introduction

Assess the role of the nobility in maintaining political stability in Tudor England. The nobility's role during the Tudor era was something of great importance in the maintenance of political stability, despite undergoing a dramatic change throughout the 16th century. Although not all nobles remained loyal to the Crown, the Tudors relied heavily on them as councillors, administrators and as military leaders, chiefly due to their desirable attributes including prestige, wealth and importance. The nobility however was not the sole factor in maintaining stability; the clergy, the gentry, local authorities and of course the monarch had significant parts to play in the keeping of authority. The Crown depended on the nobles a great deal, for instance all Tudor monarchs used the nobility as a source of advice, Henry VII summoned five great councils of the nobles and in the suppression of Lovel and Simnel he consulted with nobles such as Oxford and Pembroke. Pembroke again assisted Henry VIII with Wyatt's rebellion and both Henry and Elizabeth held assemblies of nobles in the 1530s and 1580s to discuss matters of state. Elizabeth, although only including one noble in her council of 1601, still expected every peer and leading gentleman to attend the royal court intermittently to pay his respects. ...read more.

Middle

The nobility was never far from the monarch but nonetheless, not all of the Tudor nobles were loyal to the Crown. After the Wars of the Roses there still remained a few noble families who were unwilling to accept Henry VII as the rightful Tudor king, Henry understood that they were indispensible to the maintenance of political stability but recognised he would have to limit their power if they began to act independently. Measures were taken to regulate their power so they couldn't build up private armies or ammunition against him. Still, Henry VII had to face rebellions that were led or supported by nobles such as the Pilgrimage of Grace led by Lord Hussey and Lord Darcy; Yorkist nobility also supported many minor rebellions. Even Elizabeth faced revolts from the Northern Earls and the Earl of Essex in 1601. The Crown knew that they wouldn't be able to survive without the nobility but at the same time they were wary of them, especially at the beginning of the period. However, by the end of Elizabeth's reign they had undergone a dramatic change based on the decline of feudal relations with their tenants and an interest in humanism; instead of military honour, war and violence which had previously influenced them socially, they showed good lordship, peace and civility. ...read more.

Conclusion

Propaganda was a technique used by the Crown to accentuate the ideas of power and authority which is linked with their ability to control pamphlets and church services, imposing paintings were also commissioned to add to the impressive image. The Crown also had at its disposal the means to win over and keep the political nation subservient like the ability to award honours such as peerages and knighthoods. In conclusion, it must be seen that the nobility was an important factor in maintaining political stability in Tudor times. The monarchy would not have been able to cope without their advice, imposing image and above all, their ability to retain men. Whilst ostensibly the JP's and the gentry had a huge practical role to play in the overall running of the country, there is no doubt that they were kept in line by the nobility. Nevertheless the institution of monarchy was the most important overall as the monarch was the source of unity and authority in the kingdom and was directly responsible for the protection of his or her subjects. Although the nobility were primarily responsible for putting down rebellions, they did so only as the instrument of the Crown - and so cannot be seen as the sole factor in maintaining stability. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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This is a superb response that offers a balanced and accurate answer to the question with an impressive amount of evidence used in support. Some references to historiography would have improved it further. 5 out of 5 stars.

Marked by teacher Natalya Luck 17/09/2013

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