While ordinary revenue was an annual feature for Henry VII, extraordinary revenue was not. Extraordinary revenue came to the crown only on specific occasions and for very particular reasons. Extraordinary revenue was made up of parliamentary grants, loans and benevolences, clerical taxes, feudal obligations and the French pension.
Henry could also rely on loans from his more wealthy nobles. In 1496, Henry had to supplement the grant from Parliament with loans from his subjects. The evidence from records from the time suggests that the loans were usually small and always repaid. In fact the king had little choice but to repay the loans as the last thing he needed were resentful nobility at a time when there were claimants to the throne. Benevolences were different to a loan in the sense they were a forced loan and they were not paid back! They had been introduced by Edward IV in 1475 when he was preparing for a war with France. Basically, benevolences were an appeal to the patriotic fervour of the people in support of their king. In 1491, Henry appealed for money for a war with France. The appeal raised £48,500 – a much greater sum than direct taxation could hope to raise. The commissioners sent around to collect the money were stringent in doing so. People who failed to pay what was expected of them were threatened with appearing before the Royal Council. A healthy desire to pay any required sum was seen as being a sign of how much a person “cherished the king" (Polydore Vergil). However, it is known that many paid grudgingly and rather than be called ‘benevolence’, many referred to the tax as ‘malevolence’.
Henry also received money from the Church. A parliamentary grant was usually accompanied by a grant from the archbishoprics of Canterbury and York. In 1489, the Church gave £25,000 to the cost of a war with France. Before the time of the Reformation and with a devout king, Henry and the Church had a good relationship even if he did take to selling church positions to raise money. Henry also continued an age-old practice of not immediately appointing a bishop when a bishopric fell empty as he could pocket the money raised in that bishopric while it was vacant. The time limit Henry put on this seems to have been for a maximum of 12 months and by the end of his reign, this process was providing him with £6000 a year.
Henry could also call on feudal obligations for money. As chief feudal lord, Henry could exploit many old ways of gaining money – and Henry was keen to exploit this as much as was possible. He could force anyone with an income of £40 or more a year to become a knight; he could also raise money when he knighted his eldest son or married off his eldest daughter. In 1504 Henry received £30,000 for knighting Prince Arthur and the marriage of Margaret to the King of Scotland. Arthur had been knighted fifteen years earlier and had died in 1502! By 1504 Henry was in a strong enough position to force this through – something he could not have done earlier in his reign.
In 1492, the French granted Henry a pension as part of the Treaty of Étaples. This was nothing more than payment to remove English troops from French soil. Henry received a payment of £159,000 and an annual pension of £5,000.
Henry used bonds and recognisances to keep people in check – especially the nobility. Research by Professor Lander has shown that out of the 62 senior noble families in England in the reign of Henry, 46 were at one time or another financially tied to Henry – 7 were tied by attainder, 36 by bonds/recognisances and three by other means. Rather than being just simply greedy, Henry saw money as a key way to keep the nobility under his control. To him, the more money he had, the more authority he gained over the nobility, some of whom were less than loyal in the early years of his reign.