Was Henry VII a successful monarch?
The Wars of the Roses were a series of dynastic conflicts and battles that occurred during the period 1455-1485 between the noble houses of York and Lancaster, cadet branches of the House of Plantagenet. The end came when a relatively unknown Welshman named Henry Tudor was crowned king by his supporters after his success in the Battle of Bosworth on an August day in 1485. In this essay, I will analyse and evaluate the success of his reign based on five main aims; foreign policy, law and order, finance, the Church, and status/prestige.
Foreign policies enacted by Henry were very successful as many guaranteed peace with other European countries as well as bolstering economic prosperity. A prime example would be the Treaty of Etaples. Although much land from France that was under the possession of the English monarchy had been lost over the decades, Henry had little interest in regaining them as he knew wars were costly- foreign ones especially- and he was not militarily experienced anyway. However, foreign monarchies were proficient at toppling other monarchies by lending support to figureheads who would start a rebellion, such as was already happening in 1492 when Charles VIII was supporting the pretender Perkin Warbeck. Consequently, when Henry landed in France with 26,000 men, the French were happy to sign a peace treaty guaranteeing that they would not support Henry’s enemies and paying a large sum on money for indemnities- they were perhaps more concerned with Italian wars to concern themselves with England. Furthermore, Henry signed a treaty with the newly united Kingdom of Spain, who viewed France as their rivals. Not only did this treaty cement an alliance against France, it also reduced tariffs between the two countries and perhaps most importantly, it arranged the marriage of Henry’s eldest son, Arthur, and the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. Another foreign policy success was concerning Scotland, which England had participated with in sporadic warfare that had been occurring for the past two centuries. This age-old traditional warfare between the neighbouring kingdoms was a threat which the new king could not ignore, especially after Scotland's King James IV gave support to the pretender Perkin Warbeck. However, after much negotiation, the Treaty of Perpetual Peace was created, which included the marriage of Henry’s daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland and the end of warfare between the two monarchies. Although the treaty failed to live up to its name, it laid the groundwork for the unification of the English and Scottish crowns under Margaret Tudor’s great-grandson James IV/I. Henry also created an alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, as well as using the power of the Pope to excommunicate all pretenders to his throne, numerous of which plagued him for many years, thereby further securing his claim to the English throne.