Ch 06 The New Monarchy and the Bourgeoise

Pt 04 The Tudor Monarchy

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The House of Tudor was a prominent European royal house that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch, Henry Tudor was descended paternally from the rulers of the Welsh principality of Deheubarth and maternally from a legitimised branch of the English royal House of Lancaster.

HENRY VII WAS FOUNDER OF A NEW MONARCHY. HE WAS A CAPABLE SOLDIER, BUT, AS A BUSINESSMAN, HE WAS CUNNING IN DIPLOMACY, THRIFT,AND DOUBLE DEALING.


HE EXPLOITED HIS KINGDOM AND CONFISCATED LANDS TO PROVIDE INCOME FOR THE CROWN.

HE HAD SUPPORT FROM MERCHANTS, CLOTHIERS AND TOWN ARTISANS, WHO HATED WAR AND VALUED HIS SECURITY.

THE TUDOR MONARCHY WAS UNDERPINNED BY THE BOURGEOISIE BEING STRONG ENOUGH IN THE 16th CENTURY TO KEEP IN POWER ANY GOVERNMENT THAT PROMISED THEM PROFIT AND ROOM TO GROW, YET NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO DESIRE POWER AS IN THE 17th CENTURY.

HENRY DESTROYED THE POWER OF THE NOBILITY AND ACCUMULATED ENOUGH WEALTH TO MAKE HIM INDEPENDENT OF THEM.

HE CREATED A NEW NOBILITY FROM THE UPPER CLASSES: FAMILIES SUCH AS THE CECILS, CAVENDISHES, RUSSELLS, BACONS AND SEYMOURS.

COLLECTING MONEY WAS HENRY’S DESIRE, AND PARLIAMENT WAS INDUCED TO VOTE IN TAXES FOR WARS THAT HENRY NEVER INTENDED TO FIGHT, HEAVY FINES ON THE NOBILITY FOR LAW BREAKING, FORCED LOANS AND GIFTS FOR ROYAL PROTECTION.

AT HIS DEATH, HENRY LEFT GBP TWO MILLION, A VAST SUM EQUAL TO AT LEAST 15 YEARS’ ORDINARY REVENUE AT THE TIME.

ONE THING HE DID SPEND MONEY ON WAS SHIPBUILDING FOR TRADE, AND HE GAVE A FIXED ALLOWANCE OF 5s A TON FOR ALL NEW SHIPS OVER 100 TONS.

THIS MEAGRE, THINFACED MAN ESTABLISHED THE TUDORS AGAINST THE POWER OF FRANCE, SPAIN AND GERMANY AND WAS INTEGRAL TO THE RISE OF EUROPEAN POLITICS AS DISTINCT FROM FEUDAL POLITICS.

ENGLAND HAD STOOD APART FROM EUROPE BUT BECAME PART OF THE EUROPEAN TUSSLE FOR SUPREMACY. THE EARLY YEARS OF THE 15th CENTURY WERE FULL OF CONFUSING WARS, BUT THEY PREVENTED ANY ONE COUNTRY BECOMING OVERWHELMINGLY STRONG, AS ENGLAND SUPPORTED ONE SIDE AND THEN THE OTHER.

ONE ASTUTE PLAYER WAS CARDINAL WOLSEY, CHIEF MINISTER UNDER HENRY VIII, WHO CAME TO THE THRONE IN 1509.

ENGLAND USUALLY SUPPORTED SPAIN AND WAS AT WAR WITH FRANCE.

THESE WARS HAD FEW OUTSTANDING EVENTS, BUT A BY-PRODUCT WAS THE TERRIBLE DEFEAT IN 1513 OF THE SCOTS AT FLODDEN.

THEN SUPPORT CHANGED TO FRANCE, PRECIPITATING A CHANGE OF COURSE AT HOME THAT DETERMINED THE CHARACTER OF THE REFORMATION IN ENGLAND.

PARLIAMENT LAY FALLOW, EVEN THOUGH HENRY HAD NOTHING TO FEAR. HE GREW STRONGER, MAKING LAWS AND DETERMINING RELIGIOUS POWER.

THE PRIVY COUNCIL RULED AND DEVELOPED INTO PARLIAMENT. INTERNAL STRUGGLES RESULTED IN SIR THOMAS MORE’S INFLUENCE PREVAILING.

PARLIAMENTARIANS WERE DRAWN FROM LESSER NOBLES AND BECAME EVER MORE POWERFUL. PARLIAMENT WAS CALLED THE ‘TUDOR MAID OF ALL WORK’.

THE PRIVY COUNCIL EFFECTIVELY BECAME THE EXECUTIVE, THE CIVIL SERVANTS, BUT IT WAS INEXPENSIVE TO RUN AS THERE WAS NO ARMY AND SMALL PAY.

HENRY VIII HAD PLENTY OF MONEY AND SPENT IT LAVISHLY, BUT THE INFLUX OF GOLD AND SILVER FROM AMERICA BEGAN TO INCREASE PRICES WITHOUT BRINGING IN REVENUE.

HENRY PLUNDERED CHURCH LANDS BETWEEN 1536 AND 1539, BUT THIS WAS TREATED AS INCOME, NOT CAPITAL, AND SOON DISAPPEARED.

INFLATION WAS ON THE RISE, SO COINS WERE DEBASED TO LESS THAN 1/7th OF THE GOLD AND SILVER THEY HAD.

TRADE WAS THROWN INTO CONFUSION, PRICES ROSE RAPIDLY AND REAL WAGES FELL.

NEW COINAGE BECAME A BY-WORD: ‘A PRETTY SHILLING’ BECAME AN OLD GROTE.

THIS EFFECTIVELY PLUNDERED THE MASS OF THE PEOPLE AND WAS BECOMING INCREASINGLY INCONVENIENT FOR THE TRADING LANDOWNING CLASSES.

ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS ELIZABETH’S GOVERNMENT DID WAS CALL IN WHOLE COINAGE IN 1560, PAID FOR AT ITS SILVER VALUE, AND THE GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY MADE A PROFIT. THE EFFECT WAS NOT TO REDUCE PRICES. IT JUST STABILISED THEM.

THE END OF THE ENCLOSURES AND THE PLUNDER OF CHURCHES MARKED A DEFINITE STAGE IN ENGLAND’S CONSOLIDATION OF THE BOURGEOISIE, OPENING AN ERA OF ARMED STRUGGLE WITH SPAIN FOR THE INTENSIVE EXPLOITATION OF THE WORLD’S MARKETS

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