$afe and $ecure

$afe and $ecure

Henry VII saw the need to expand the “crown’s fiscal authority….”  He felt that political problems came “from the crown’s financial weaknesses.  He saw stability resting on a solvent and secure king” (Jones 89).  Perhaps he carried his avariciousness too far but “the very quality, the excess of which became a matter of severe and deserved reproach to him, added, at first, materially to secure him in the possession of the Crown” (Bergenroth 53).

Gaining the throne did not mean security and Henry became “obsessed by the equation of security and money” (Penn 155). He spent time checking accounting entries, acquiring a “conspicuous talent for heaping up wealth” (Perry Sisters 17).  He personally wrote up sources of revenue and oversaw his financial administrators. Penn reveals that this was “…a king with a complex, all-consuming obsession with the control, influence and power that money represented, both at home and abroad” (Penn 156).  Henry’s policies were to ensure that wealth was directed towards the Crown as much as possible.

Jewel Tower, London

jewel tower1

“He valued money only for money’s worth; and to him a large reserve was a great guarantee for peace and security” (Gairdner 209).  It was further reported that close to his death “he recommended his son and successor to pursue the same policy as himself.  By preserving friendship with France and amassing money he told him that he would be best able to preserve his kingdom in peace and break the power of faction if it ever became dangerous” (Gairdner 215).  Henry did pursue peace with France.  He also dealt with faction successfully. As the envoy, Don Pedro de Ayala of Spain, said: “The King of England is less rich than generally said. He likes to be thought very rich because such a belief is advantageous to him in many respects.  The King himself said to me that it is his intention to keep his subjects low, because riches would only make them haughty…” (Hutchinson 41).

Alas, his son did not follow these two policy suggestions as history reveals to us. Henry VIII conducted costly wars with France and rapidly used up the treasury.  It was left to Henry VII’s granddaughter Elizabeth to act upon his advice.

Peace meant a great deal to Elizabeth.  “She had no lust for glory at the cost of her own ruin, commercial and industrial stagnation, and social distress” (Neale 298).  She lamented over the waste of war.  “It is a sieve that spends as it receives to little purpose” (Crawford).  Elizabeth kept finances into account when creating foreign policy.  She knew too well that interventionist and expansionist policies cost too much money.

Elizabeth was notoriously frugal and her “stringent economies effected soon after her accession…” and her “prudent financial management” (Somerset 281) allowed for her to escape true money worries. Her parsimony was even defended by Burghley.  “To spend in time convenient is wisdom; to continue charges without needful cause bringeth repentance” (Perry Words of a Prince 287).

  William Cecil                                      Nicholas Bacon 

cecil william bacon nicoholas

By 1571-72 her finances were in pretty good shape.  Elizabeth was praised by her Lord Keeper Nicholas Bacon who said that in the past there had been money wasted but in the twelve years of Elizabeth’s reign the expenditures were those:

“…that hath not been thought before convenient to be done for the Weal and profit of the Realm; so far her highness is from spending of Treasure in vain matters, and therefore the rather how can a man make any difficulty to contribute according to his Power?”  (D’Ewes 139).

This is true as nothing was done for glory alone.  She did it to preserve the realm.  Any burden was from a policy that showed “an abstemious royal economy in domestic expenditure and a strictly defensive foreign policy” (McCaffrey 384).

 Robert Cecil                                                        Sir Francis Walsingham

(c) National Trust, Hardwick Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation    walsingham

She tried hard to ensure that her people would not “groan under the burden of continual levies and impositions” (Somerset 547).  Yet, near the end of her reign when expenses in defense were creating hardships, Robert Cecil warned a courtier seeking office, “Her majesty’s mind is not so apt to give as before her wars…” (Morrill 346).  It is clear that keeping peace at home and engaging in foreign conflicts was not going to keep the coffers full.  It is not the purpose here to go into the Essex rebellion, yet it can be used as an example of how the money situation had deteriorated so that the fabric of the Court was unraveling.  The discontent was from the retrenchment that was taking place.  Ironically, as Elizabeth was securing the country from external threats, it was internal security which was weakened. Despite [as reported by Philip Sydney] Walsingham’s, complaint that Elizabeth would not increase her expenditure on international intrigue as she “greatly presumeth on fortune which is but a very weak foundation to build upon” both domestically and internationally, Elizabeth prevailed (Worden ).

What Elizabeth achieved in maintaining solvency and concord was extraordinary. Applying the financial judiciousness and preference for peace she had inherited from Henry VII, Elizabeth ensured that England, not a great power with great wealth, was safe and secure.

 Works Cited

Bergenroth, G. A., and, Pascual De. Gayangos. Calendar of Letters,     Dispatches and State Papers, Relating to the Negotiations between England and Spain, Preserved in the Archives at Simancas and Elsewhere: Published by the Authority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury under the Direction of the Master of the Rolls. Henry VII 1485 – 1509. ed. Vol. 1. London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1862. Google Books. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Crawford Lomas, Sophie, and Allen B. Hinds. Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 2: June 1586-March 1587. N.p.: n.p., 1927.Elizabeth. British History Online. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.

D’Ewes, Simonds, and Paul Bowes. The Journals of All the Parliaments during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth Both of the House of Lords and House of Commons.
London: Printed for John Starkey …, 1682. Google Books. Web. 5 Jan. 2013.

Gairdner, James. Henry the Seventh,. London: Macmillan, 1889. Google Books. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Hutchinson, Robert. Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011. Google Books. Web. 02 Dec. 2012.

Jones, Michael K. and Malcolm G. Underwood.  The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret
Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print.

MacCaffrey, Wallace. Elizabeth I. London: E. Arnold. 1993. Print.

Morrill, John, ed.  The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.  Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Penn, Thomas.  Winter King; the Dawn of Tudor England.  New York: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.

Perry, Maria. The Sisters of Henry VIII.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. Print.

Perry, Maria.  The Word of a Prince: A Life of Elizabeth from Contemporary
Documents.  Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1990.  Print.

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.

Worden, Blair. The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney’s Arcadia and Elizabethan Politics. New Haven: Yale UP, 1996. Google Books. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.

Holding the Reins

Holding the Reins

Whether or not we can refer to Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina as workaholics or simply people who felt compelled to do the work at hand, both dedicated themselves to running the government. They not only reigned but they also governed.

Henry “ruled through a bureaucracy backed by the direct intervention of the monarch” (Morrill 314). “From first to last his policy was essentially his own; for though he knew well how to choose the ablest councilors, he asked or took their advice only to such an extent as he himself deemed expedient” (Gairdner 210). In 1498 Pedro de Ayala, a Spanish envoy, remarked that Henry was “subject to his Council, but has already shaken off some, and got rid of some part of this subjection” (Bergenroth 178).  It must be understood that at this time, through to the reign of Elizabeth I, that “however well served with councilors, the sovereign was in those days always his own Prime Minister” (Gairdner 210).

Bacon attributed the reign’s successful laws to Henry VII.  He reported that “in that part both of justice and policy … which is the making of good laws, he did excel” (Bacon 213).  It is known that Henry signed all Parliamentary actions “though he sometimes added to them provisos of his own” (Gairdner 212).

Signature of King Henry VII
H7 signature

Henry’s hands-on approach did not diminish even while his health declined: “the energy with which he attended to business seemed hardly diminished by his accumulated infirmities” (Gairdner 208).  “His eyesight began to fail when he was in his forties, which was a source of anxiety to him; he needed clear vision, literally as well as metaphorically, for the business of government, since so much of his time was spent poring over paperwork” (Ross 36).

“Workaholic and overburdened with state affairs” (Penn 51), Henry took several days to write this letter from Greenwich to his mother.  No year was given but it must have been written between 1503 and 1505. In the excerpt that follows, he mentions that his sight is not what it had once been and explains how long he had been working on the letter (Ellis 46).

h7 letter

Henry VII’s dedication was well-known as it was commented that “never a Prince was more wholly given to his affairs, nor in them more of himself” (Bacon 219) –except perhaps one, Elizabeth Regina.

Elizabeth worked tirelessly for the good of England doing the business of government. Perhaps it was Elizabeth’s difficult apprenticeship which prepared her for the “self-control necessary for government” (Dunn 164) or simply her selected life-style. “In her private way of living, she always preferred her necessary affairs and the dispatch of what concerned the government, before and above any pleasures, recreations and conversations” (Bohun 346).  Directly below is the passage from Edmund Bohun.

Bohun 346

We learned from John Nichols that in the December that she became Queen, Elizabeth sat in Council for 15 straight days (Nichols 33).  Granted it was necessary for Elizabeth to appoint her advisors and establish the transfer of power early in her reign, yet this would have been simultaneous with pageants and receptions.  This is an excellent example of her dedication to her duties; although she would not always meet with her council daily, throughout her reign she kept informed of the discussions.

Elizabeth took power at once without hesitation.  She and she alone ruled.  She was not going to hand over power and she was not going to let her councilors unite against her. Her proclamation soon after her accession, “I mean to direct all my actions by good advice and counsel,” was probably meant in good faith but she often did not take their advice.  “…There were numerous occasions when her Council begged her in unison to change course, but could not induce her to do so”  (Somerset 68).

Elizabeth “…had no intention of abandoning her authority to her advisers and letting them rule for and through her.  She meant to play the commanding role in her government…” (Erickson 172). Often she felt ruling the men of her Council “called for sharp tugs on the rein to remind them that she was mistress” (Neale 223).  Sympathetic contemporaries felt “none knew better the hardest art of all others, that is, of commanding men…” (Hayward 9) as seen on February 10, 1559, when Elizabeth gave her first speech to Parliament in response to its members’ request that she marry.  She let them know that, although she was not offended by their petition, she did think it a “very great presumption, being unfitting and altogether unmeet for you to require them that may command, or those to appoint whose parts are to desire, or such to bind and limit whose duties are to obey, or to take upon you to draw my love to your liking or frame my will to your fantasies” (Marcus 57).

When Parliament tried to pull a fast one on Elizabeth by slipping into an act on subsidies a provision that she marry; she caught it.  “After eight years of Cecil’s tuition Elizabeth, who scrutinized government papers with care, was not likely to be fooled” (Perry 199).   Written in her own hand as a draft of her speech to dissolve Parliament January 2, 1567 after this incident, she warned its members “never to tempt too far a prince’s patience” (Marcus 106) making sure though that the revised version, presented officially, had more force “yet beware however you prove your prince’s patience, as you have now done mine” (Marcus 108).

2nd parliament
Depiction of Elizabeth’s 2nd Parliament
12 January to 10 April 1563 (prorogued)
30 September 1566 to 2 January 1567 (dissolved)

Elizabeth and Henry VII both wanted to be involved in the day-to-day business of government.  One wonders if part of it was fear of losing control or concern for losing the throne.  Regardless, unlike Henry VIII who, according to the Venetian Ambassador, Lorenzo Orio in January of 1526, “leaves everything in charge of Cardinal Wolsey…” (Brown Rawdon) the reins of government were held in Henry VII and Elizabeth’s capable hands.  Elizabeth noted to King Henry IV of France  “my experience in government has made me so stubborn as to believe that I am not ignorant of what becomes a king” (Somerset 60).

 Works Cited

 Bacon, Francis, and J. Rawson Lumby. Bacon’s History of the Reign of King Henry VII,. Cambridge: University, 1902. Internet Archive. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

Bergenroth, G. A., and, Pascual De. Gayangos. Calendar of Letters, Dispatches and State Papers, Relating to the Negotiations between England and Spain, Preserved in the Archives at Simancas and Elsewhere: Published by the Authority of the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury under the Direction of the Master of the Rolls. Henry VII 1485 – 1509. ed. Vol. 1. London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1862. Google Books. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Bohun, Edmund. The Character of Queen Elizabeth, Or, A Full and Clear Account of Her Policies and the Methods of Her Government Both in Church and State, Her Virtues and Defects Together with the Characters of Her Principal Ministers of State … London: Printed for Ric. Chiswell at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul’s Church-Yard(IS), 1693. Google Books. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.

Brown, Rawdon (editor). “Venice: January 1526, 1-15.” Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3: 1520-1526 (1869): 517-525. British History Online. Web. 26 January 2013.

Dunn, Jane. Elizabeth and Mary. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. Print.

Ellis, Henry. Original Letters, Illustrative of English History: Including Numerous Royal Letters, from Autographs in the British Museum, and One or Two Other Collections. London: Harding, Triphook & Lepard, 1825. Google Books. Web. 21 Jan. 2013.

Gairdner, James. Henry the Seventh,. London: Macmillan, 1889. Google Books. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.

Hayward, John, and John Bruce. Annals of the First Four Years of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth. London: Printed for the Camden Society by J.B. Nichols and Son, 1840. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

Marcus, Leah S. et al., eds. Elizabeth I: The Collected Works. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

Morrill, John, ed.  The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.  Print.

Neale, J. E. Queen Elizabeth I. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1957. Print.

Nichols, John. The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth. Among Which Are Interspersed Other Solemnities, Public Expenditures, and Remarkable Events during the Reign of That Illustrious Princess. Collected from Original MSS., Scarce Pamphlets, Corporation Records, Parochial Registers, &c., &c.: Illustrated with Historical Notes. New York: B. Franklin, 1823. Google Books. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

Perry, Maria.  The Word of a Prince: A Life of Elizabeth from Contemporary Documents. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 1990.  Print.

Ross, Josephine.  The Tudors, England’s Golden Age.  London: Artus, 1994.  Print. 

Somerset, Anne. Elizabeth I.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Print.