Henry VII and Finance

Henry VII and Finance

Henry VII has usually received much praise from historians with regards to his financial policies. For Henry power, the extension of power and money all went together. A sound financial base was essential if Henry was to control both his people but more especially the powerful nobility in England. Henry also wanted to leave his successor a full treasury to ensure that he would have the means to fight for his succession if necessary. While Henry had a more modern approach to finance when compared to his predecessors, he never fully solved the monarch’s financial weakness. At his death in 1509, Henry was solvent but he was not the wealthiest man in his kingdom. The image of Henry VII as a financial ‘genius’ came from the writings of Francis Bacon in the C17th – and it stuck. There is little doubt that Henry VII had a more energetic approach to finance when compared to previous kings but he encountered problems that no one up to that date had solved – how to acquire the wealth that was in the hands of the nobility and how to get the nobility to admit that they had such wealth. Between 1485 and 1509, Henry VII put the Crown on a more stable financial basis but the challenge of putting the king of England at the head of England’s list of richest men was almost certainly too great a challenge even for a man of Henry’s energy. Though there were reforms in his ordinary and extraordinary revenues, Henry remained poor by some monarchical standards – the annual income of the King of France was many times that of Henry. By 1509, Henry’s income was about £113,000 a year. The king of France, at the same time, had an income of £800,000 – a significant difference.






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