The Establishment of the New Monarchy: Henry VII and Henry VIII’s Contrasting Approaches

Category: England
Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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The new monarchy Henry VII is less known than Henry VIII or Elizabeth I but he was more important in establishing the new monarchy. Henry VII firmly believed that war and glory were bad business, and that business was good for the state. Henry had more power and more money than earlier kings. His aim was to make the crown financially independent. When he died in 1509 he left a huge amount of money. The only thing on which he was happy to spend money was the building of ships. Henry VIII was quite unlike his father. He was cruel, wasteful with money, and interested in pleasing himself.

The reformation

Henry VIII was always looking for new sources of money. He disliked the power of Church in England because, since it was an international organization, he could not completely control it. In 1531 Henry persuaded the bishops to make him head of the Church in England, and this became law after Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534. The break with Rome was purely political. He wanted to control the Church and keep its wealth in his own. He used the Parliament to make the break legal. Through several Acts of Parliament between 1532 and 1536, England became politically a Protestant country, even though the popular religion was Catholic.

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After the acceptance of the Reformation Henry closed monasteries and other religious houses. Monks and nuns were thrown out. The dissolution of the monasteries was probably the greatest act of official destruction in the history of Britain.

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I became queen when Mary died in 1558. She wanted to find peaceful answers to the problems of English Reformation. She wanted to bring together again parts of English society which were in religious disagreement. And she wanted to make England prosperous. She considered trade the most important foreign policy matter, and also encouraged merchant expansion.

She recognized Spain as her main trade, rival and enemy. Mary, the “Queen of Scots”, was the heir to the English throne, she was a strong Catholic. When she returned to Scotland, soon made enemies, because she got tired of her husband and she agreed to murder him and married the murdered so she was unpopular among people and finally she escaped to England. Elizabeth kept Mary as a prisoner for almost 20 years. In 1587 she finally agreed to Mary’s execution. England and her neighbours During the Tudor period, from 1485 until 1603, English foreign policy changed several times. Mary queen of Scot and the Scottish reformation

Mary was troubled by bad luck and wrong decisions. She was Catholic, she returned to Scotland as both queen and widow. During her time in France, Scotland had become officially and popularly Protestant. The Scots were careful not to give the monarch authority over the new Protestant Scottish “kirk”, as the church in Scotland was called. This was possible because the new Reformation took place while the queen, Mary, was not in Scotland. The Kirk taught the importance of personal belief and the study of the Bible, this led to the idea that education was important for everyone in Scotland.

Protestantism had spread quickly through the Scottish universities. The new Kirk disliked Mary and her French Catholicism. Then Mary was married again, to Lord Darnley, later she got tired of him, consequently she agreed to murder her husband and married the murderer, Bothwel. Scottish society was shocked. In addition to her Catholicism and her French culture, she had shown very poor judgment. She destroyed her chance of inheriting the English throne. She found herself at war with her opponents, and was captured and imprisoned. She escaped to England, where she was held by Elizabeth and after nineteen years she was executed.

Refer to society during Tudor times.

  • Tudor parliaments. The Tudor monarchs did not like governing through Parliament. Henry VII had used Parliament only for law making. Until the end of the Tudor period Parliament was supposed to do three things: agree to the taxes needed; make the laws which the Crown suggested; and advise the crown, only when asked to do so.
  • Rich and poor in town and country. During this period the population increased, England had social and economic problems than ever before. The price of food and other goods rose. But a greater problem was the increase in population.
  • Living conditions got worse. Many landowners made money from sheep farming; they could sell the wool to the cloth industry. Many people became unemployed. In 1601 Parliament passed the First Poor Law. This made local people responsible for the poor in their own area. The lives of the rich and poor were different. The rich ate good quality bread while the poor ate rough bread. The rich showed off their wealth in silk clothing, while the poor wore simple clothes of leather or wool.

Domestic life.

Women in England had a greater freedom than anywhere else in Europe. However, there was a dark side of married life. Most women bore between eight and fifteen children. Marriage was often an economic arrangement, there weren’t deep emotional ties. Both rich and poor lived in small family groups. People worked hard and died young. Poor children started work at the age of six or seven. Unmarried women suffered badly during this period, after the dissolution of the monasteries they became beggars on the roads of England. They had little choice in life.

Language and culture.

At the beginning of the Tudor period English was spoken in different ways. Since the mid-fourteenth century, London English had become accepted as Standard English. Educated people began to speak “correct” English, and uneducated people continued to speak the local dialect. Literacy increased greatly during the mid-sixteenth century. England felt the effects of the Renaissance, it also influence religion, encouraging the Protestant Reformation. In music England enjoyed its most fruitful period ever. Literature was England’s greatest art form; William Shakespeare filled the theatres with their exciting new plays.

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The Establishment of the New Monarchy: Henry VII and Henry VIII’s Contrasting Approaches. (2017, Apr 08). Retrieved from

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