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The Tudors – Henry VII, 1485-1509

6. Did Henry VII fail as king of England?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about whether Henry VII failed as a king of England, focusing in particular on: (i) the fact that Henry was the first king in almost a century to leave an adult, male heir; (ii) the extent to which he stabilised the regime in the 1490s; (iii) the extent to which Henry felt vulnerable to challengers such as Edward de la Poole doing exactly what did to Richard III; (iv) his work with foreign leaders such as Maximilian I, Philip of Burgundy, the Earl of Kildare and the Fitzgeralds to secure relatively friendly regimes in the Low Countries and in Ireland; (v) his embrace of humanist education for his sons; (vi) the extent to which his final decade in power mars the achievements of the first half of his reign; and (vii) the extent to which simply leaving an adult heir and a healthy treasury can be seen as a success in this period.


In this course, Dr Sean Cunningham (The National Archives) explores the reign of Henry VII through eight key questions: (1) How did Henry Tudor become king of England?; (2) Did Henry rely too heavily on his friends for support?; (3) How secure was Henry’s throne by 1500?; (4) To what extent was the period 1502-3 a turning point in Henry’s reign?; (5) How useful were bonds and recognizances in keeping Henry VII on the throne?; (6) Did Henry VII fail as king of England?; (7) Was Henry VII a miser?; and (8) How innovative was Henry VII?


Dr Sean Cunningham is Head of Medieval Records at the National Archives, with a specialism in the interconnecting processes of government and how they functioned through representative agencies, officials and individuals in the period 1399–1558. He is one of the leading historians on the reign of Henry VII (1485–1509), and has published and lectured widely on many aspects of this reign and the key figures who helped to establish Tudor power in England and Wales before the Reformation.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cunningham, S. (2021, January 26). The Tudors – Henry VII, 1485-1509 - Did Henry VII fail as king of England? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cunningham, S. "The Tudors – Henry VII, 1485-1509 – Did Henry VII fail as king of England?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Jan 2021,