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Henry VIII end of the reign

The mid-Tudor crisis is a term often used to describe the reigns of Edward and Mary. It is, however, clear that many origins of the crisis have their roots in Henry’s reign. I believe that it is not fair to say that the last years of Henry’s reign were a disaster, as at no point was the crown really threatened. Henry was able to keep control of his people, although he and his Ministers made indisputably bad judgements that compromised the Crown at a later date.Henry’s policies relating to the constitutional difficulties cannot be blamed for the eminent crisis. Cromwell`s reforms actually made the Tudor state more powerful “but this advance was weakened by minority” Henry did his best, before his death, to set up a Privy Council which he could trust to guide and inform his young heir. He chose advisors who were closest to him to take on the task, and by doing this hoped to avoid any emerging power struggles. Henry wanted all members to have equal power and thought that they should govern until Edward reached the age of Eighteen. By balancing the power between the Radical and Conservative factions Henry believed he had created what would function as a balanced and fair Government. Unfortunately what came to follow meant that this could never happen. At the time of Henry’s death the Radical party had gained control, this being partly down to the work of Henry himself. Gardiner and Norfolk were arrested which had accordingly weakened the Conservative faction. A balanced Government, in theory, is a good idea but in practice is almost impossible to impose especially when there is a “power vacuum” and “no longer a royal focus of authority”The “king himself was the mainspring of the state machine, and under his hand he kept all the apparatus of administrative depotism” Henry was always involved in his government and it worked effectively and efficiently, the administration council easily supported the new style government. His Privy Council, whose role was to advise, administer and adjudicate, were trustworthy and he was not to become manipulated by them until the last months of his life. His will was one such case, where space was left for change after his death and another when Gardiner was ousted from officeDue to this struggle for power Somerset emerged as leader. He did, however, have little support in Government and Henry’s policy of an equal Privy Council may have ended in disaster if Somerset had remained in power. The Government under Henry had been strong and he managed Parliament relatively well. This ability to manage well could be put down to his personality and a system where the Monarch was based in the Parliament. Although the system worked well for Henry it was not suitable for a young King with no experience. Henry’s Government functioned well, however, it was controlled towards the end of the reign by Sir Anthony Denny. Denny was Chief Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber and John Gates (Denny`s Brother in Law) had custody of the Dry Stamp. Denny’s servant, William Clerk, was responsible for its actual use and this meant that Denny not only had access to the Dry Stamp, but as Chief Gentleman of the Privy Chamber he had direct access to the King and had jurisdiction over who could have access to him. Allowing this to happen managed to distance Henry from other members of the Council and also got him a some what censored report of what was going on in his country.Although there was both faction and individuals at work in Henry’s Court as proved in the case of Cromwell passed the act of precedence which favoured himself, and when Norfolk took an active role in overthrowing him from power. His will was carried out the way he wanted it to, more or less be, this in itself is a success. The only person who contended the succession was Northumberland when he tried to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne, but he failed and Henry’s will was still eventually carried out.”A nation divided in religion” has been said about the Henrican church. Very few great advances were made in this area during the last years of Henrys reign. It was a period of Conservative reaction which defended Royal supremacy against Protestant advances. Henry’s main downfall in this area was perhaps limiting the Bible to upper class males and gentle women.One area that Henry’s policies did cause crisis in was finance. Henry left major financial problems to his successors due to his foreign policy of overspending on his armoury. Henry followed an unrealistic foreign policy with unrealistic aims which were incompetently pursued, and in doing so squandered the wealth of the Monasteries. He was out of his league competing with the two major forces in Europe, who both had almost limitless resources. In this battle England had only one trump card to play and it was its strong geographical position which meant allegiance was sought after by both Francis and Charles. Henry tried hard to seek marriage alliances but, as he believed he had the upper hand, he kept inventing ridiculous multiple marriage proposals which angered Charles, and he also managed to offend the French Ambassador when he asked to see “a selection of women from the French court “, strategically this was not a good move. If Henry had arranged a marriage alliance sooner then perhaps all the major forces in Europe would not have signed a ten year truce and later a Papal Bull of Excommunication against enemies of Christendom, which included Henry. He was becoming increasingly nervous by the unfolding situation, so began building up his Army and Navy, and mustering the countries Militia. The improvement of the Navy was one of Henry’s greatest achievements.In January 1539 Henry tried to get the Schmalkaldic League on side but failed. The Act Of Six Articles made sure that nothing would come of it. Henry carried on looking for an alliance and found one in the form of a marriage. Henry was encouraged to marry Anne of Cleves whose father had also broken away from the Pope, and was connected, by marriage, to some of the German Protestants. Henry married her, although he was less than pleased, and described her as his “Flanders Mare” At this time Charles and Francis seemed to be coming to some reconciliation, but by February 1540 they were once again at each others throats and Henry no longer needed his ugly bride for her connections, so divorced her quickly.In June Henry had made up his mind that he should go into battle. Making an alliance with Charles they both went to war against France. Henry and Charles seem to both have had their own intentions in this invasion, although there was an agreed rendezvous in Paris which was subsequently ignored. “Neither Henry nor Charles intended to keep their bargain it was just a matter of who would double cross the other first” In this case it was our own Henry who strayed first. It was no wonder though that he didn’t make it to Paris as he had to be carried by his Army due to ill health, which inevitably slowed things down. Henry did however manage to capture Boulogne. Norfolk’s campaign failed, and on the same day Charles returned to the Netherlands to deal with problems there and eventually made peace with France.By capturing Boulogne Henry believed that he would be at the fore front of European matters. Henry took the tact which we are used to from Monarchs of this period, he squandered money in return for glory and prestige. Henry wished to be a warrior King who was strong and powerful so for him war was a must, Boulogne cost Henry a great deal of money after he took control of it as he then had to fortify at a substantial cost.Before Henry went to France he had to secure his borders, the most imminent threat was Scotland, therefore Henry arranged to meet James in York in 1541 to try to make peace. James had other ideas, and did not turn up to the meeting which left Henry humiliated. There was only one option left for Henry, and that was war. Henry launched two border raids in August 1542. The Duke Of Norfolk was told to march on Edinburgh, he caused considerable damage and returned South quickly. The Scots counter-attacked disastrously and were defeated at the battle of Solway Moss when James’ large well equipped Army became trapped in a bog and had to surrender to the English. James died shortly after this and it has been said that he died of shame, thereafter many Scottish nobility were captured. Henry was now in a superior position, the King who had humiliated so greatly was dead and his daughter, who was born on the 8 December 1542, was only six days old. The outcome may have been very different if James’ Army had triumphed.Henry tried to reconcile England and Scotland once and for all, and he did this with the proposal of a marriage between Edward and the young Mary. Henry sought to use prisoners to establish an Anglophile party to arrange the marriage and push out the French faction led by Cardinal Beaton. The negotiations dragged on until July 1543 when the treaty of Greenwich was signed. During this time the Scots had time to build up their strength and quickly repudiated the treaty preferring “to suffer extremity then be subject to England” Following this the Anglophile party collapsed. Beaton returned to power and Henry decided to use force by sending Hertford north. In 1544 he destroyed Holyrood and marched to Berwick leaving a trail of ruin and uniting all against him. On the 27 February 1545 the English were defeated at Ancrum near Jedburgh.Hertford launched an attack on the castles and abbeys of Tweed Valley. Beaton was murdered with Henrys connivance in May and the English faction held St Andrews castle until his death. The Anglophile party was destroyed in Scotland as the French faction had remained in control of Edinburgh. Henry had made little progress, if anything he had worsened the situation. Mary had been sent to be raised in France and Scotland and France were closer then ever to each other. Henry felt the threat of them close and he was right. After the French had failed to capture Boulogne they launched an invasion attack on Portsmouth. All our coasts were fortified and Francis` ships were forced back, the French caused minimal damage, and the only English loss was the Mary Rose, attempting to manoeuvre with its gun ports open.Henry’s foreign policy in the last years of reign had achieved very little. For a cost of �2 million pounds Henry achieved only one thing, and that was land in Boulogne. In 1546 the Treaty Of Ardres was signed. This treaty, between Francis and Henry, was the last chance to salvage something worth while out of the wars. It was decided that France would buy Boulogne back for �600,000, French pensions totalling �35,000 per annum were to be restored, and it was thought that France would never keep to these payments so Boulogne would be kept.The war had cost England a normal governments expenditure for a decade, Henry raised �656,245 by taxation; �270, 000 by forced loans: �739,310 from the sale of ex-religious lands; �100,000 borrowed from Antwerp at a high interest; and �393,000 from the debasement of the coinage.The end of Henry’s rule cannot be called a disaster. His Ministers and his Government did make some bad judgements, especially in the area of foreign policy, but there was only ever one route Henry could follow and that was one of a defensive policy. It would have been far more dangerous for England to keep out of the wars with France and Charles, as by being surrounded by Catholic rulers Scotland, Charles and Francis may have been able to come together against Henry. Henry ensured that he was always engaged in some kind of foreign policy even if using it seemed like a waste of time. At a time when faction and back stabbing was rife Henrys Government did well to keep together, although most of them were embroiled in a power struggle.Henry, while involved with matters abroad, had little time to do anything for matters such as education and did little in the way of charity for the poor as the Benedictine Monasteries had been dissolved. Henry’s policy had repercussions later on in Edward’s and Mary’s reign, especially the dissolution of the Monasteries which led to more vagrants, these being Nuns and Monks, and the debasement of the Coinage leading to inflation and widespread famine. Another of the areas which Henry neglected during the last years of his reign was learning, literature, education and art.An area that was a disaster in Henry’s last years was his love life. Anne Of Cleves proved so unattractive that he had the marriage annulled, Catherine Howard, a beautiful women who Henry was much in love with, was terribly unfaithful and was beheaded. It has been said that this marriage broke Henry’s heart and disheartened him greatly and this shows in his next choice of wife, Catherine Parr. Catherine had clear Protestant learning’s and was kind and looked after Edward and Elizabeth making sure they had a Protestant education. In marrying Catherine Henry ensured that his children were looked after and the confusion that he had over religion would not become imbedded in them also. His marriage to Catherine made sure that Elizabeth turned out to be a great queen.Henry VIII died on January 28th 1547. He had attained more absolute authority then almost any other ruler of England with remarkably little disturbance through an epoch-making change in Church and Religion, from which he emerged as supreme head of the church. He had helped found the English Navy. He had played an active, if rather futile, role in European diplomacy and dissipated the carefully husbanded resources of his father. Henry, although he did not do everything right, secured his succession and the throne and his reign was never under any great threat. I believe, therefore, that Henry was a success.

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