After doing so much research about the English monarchy, I would like to share some of the information I have acquired. This post will address Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor Dynasty. Based on what I have learned, Henry VII is the ultimate underdog because he started out as a refugee and fugitive with only a small amount of royal blood in his veins. Henry was born from an illegitimate branch of House Lancaster and had the most unlikely pedigree to be king. He had no prior experience to governing a country, but he still gambled everything to win the crown of England.
He summoned an army and landed in Wales before facing Richard III of the House of York in the Battle of Bosworth Field. Henry’s victory was only assured by the fateful intervention of House Stanley. However, winning the English crown was only the easy part. The hard part was holding onto the English crown. In order to unite a divided England and end the feud between Lancaster and York, Henry married Elizabeth of York. Also, to consolidate the future of his dynasty, Henry and Elizabeth had several children including Arthur, Henry VIII, and Margaret.
Still, despite Henry’s claim to the throne, he had to quell several Yorkist factions who sought the crown for themselves. In order to keep both his allies and enemies in line, Henry formed an army of spies, bankers, and lawyers. The spies posed as either servants in his suspected enemies’ homes or priests when they go to church to confess. The bankers and lawyers, which included silver-tongued individuals such as Edmund Dudley, extorted the populace so that defying the king would be both unthinkable and unaffordable. As a result of years of extortion, Henry VII left his son Henry VIII with a full treasury of over 1.25 million pounds.
Sadly, because his claim to the throne was weak due to him coming from an illegitimate bloodline and having a small amount of royal blood, Henry VII was obsessed with controlling his kingdom. He kept to himself inside of his privy chamber, where only a hand full of individuals were allowed to enter. After his wife and eldest son died, Henry was so desperate to conserve the Tudors’ future that he kept his son Henry VIII in isolation until he came of age. Ultimately, Henry VII ruled England for twenty four years. In the end, even though Henry VII succeeded in securing his dynasty, his success was short-lived because the Tudor name ended with his granddaughter Elizabeth I, resulting in the Tudor dynasty ruling England for a mere century.
Overall, I would say that Henry VII’s reign was both oppressive and frightening to his citizens. In the end though, he did what was necessary to consolidate his family’s future as the monarchs of England. The odds were stacked against him even after he won the throne. It would be fair to say that Henry VII was the ultimate gambler and underdog because he risked everything he had to leave his mark on history. His legacy gave us the most famous and notorious dynasty in the history of England: The Tudors.