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The Tudors – Henry VII, 1485-1509

7. Was Henry VII a miser?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about whether Henry VII was a miser, i.e. a hoarder of money for its own sake, focusing in particular on: (i) Henry’s use of bonds and recognizances as a means of suppressing opposition to his reign, particularly in the restive regions of Yorkshire and Kent; (ii) the change in Henry’s attitude to money once his throne was on securer foundations after 1499; (iii) the importance of the Council Learned in the Law in bolstering royal revenues; (iv) the importance of Edmund Dudley in administering royal finances; (v) the fragility of Henry’s reign, especially after the death of two of his sons, Edmund (1500) and Arthur (1502), and his wife, Elizabeth of York (1503); (vi) the figures of Sir Thomas Lovell and Sir John Heron and the evidence provided by the Tudor Chamber Books; (vii) the relative weakness of Henry’s claim to the throne, and the extent to which he can use his financial strength to bolster that claim; (viii) the success of Henry’s loans to Maximilian I in their unofficial aim of suppressing the threat represented by Edward de la Poole; (ix) the strong financial position inherited by Henry VIII; and (x) the extent to which Henry uses his financial resources to bolster England’s claim to be a top power in Europe, both in terms of marriage alliances and in terms of general royal magnificence.


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 - Was Henry VII a miser? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cunningham, S. "The Tudors – Henry VII, 1485-1509 – Was Henry VII a miser?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Jan 2021,