The Lion’s Grandcub: Conclusion:
This blog has discussed in several entries the initial proposal that Henry VII and Elizabeth I were the Tudors who most closely resembled each other. Discussions included many aspects: their physical appearance, their internships, their manner of rule and their basic accomplishments.
Similarities between Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina are easiest at the superficial level of their appearance. Obviously, they were described at various times of their lives by numerous people (some perhaps being less subjective than others). Their physiques were tall, slender, and strong. Their features were narrow, high-browed, with prominent cheek bones and pale complexions. For detailed descriptions of both Henry VII and Elizabeth Regina, based on primary sources, consult http://elizregina.com/2013/01/ the blog entry “Eat, Drink and Be Moderate”.
Character sketches also invoke parallels. Polydore Vergil’s description of Henry VII could easily be applied to his granddaughter. Using words such as distinguished, wise, prudent, brave, shrewd, intelligent, and gracious along with praising a “pertinacious memory” (Vergilus 143-147).
Alison Weir’s description of Elizabeth could easily be applied to her grandfather. Using words such as tenacity, cautious, realism, dissemble, parsimonious, dithering, and devious along with describing a “subtle brain” (Weir 17).
We know that like Henry VII whose speech was “gracious in diverse languages,” his “counseyelles fortunate and taken by wyse delyberacyon” and his “wytte always quycke and redy,” Elizabeth was also praised for her skill at languages, her wise counsel and quick wit (Fisher 269).
Lovers of Peace Not War
Throughout each of their reigns the negotiations undertaken by Henry and Elizabeth on the international level proved what lengths they would go to preserve peace. Henry VII nor his granddaughter relished the cost of war in lives and money. Gairdner declared that Henry made overtures to war only when it was “really forced upon him by the necessities of his position” (Gairdner 214).
Bacon was a bit more cynical and believed that Henry VII used “a noise of war” to gain funding from Parliament and so that a peace “might coffer up” (Bacon The Major Works 45). It was the reality, “by refraining from war he ended solvent…” (Loades 8).
He knew that “the way to peace was not to seem to be desirous to avoid wars: therefore would he make offers and fames of wars, till he had mended the conditions of peace” (Bacon and Lumby 212). Henry called Parliament together to approve war with France, yet “in his secret intentions he had no purpose to go through with any war” (Bacon and Lumby 91). For this he was praised at the end of his life for spending “many a day in pease and tranquyllyte” (Fisher 269).
Elizabeth is treated a bit more harshly by the historian James Anthony Froude. He theorized that during the Scottish Rebellion if Elizabeth I had committed troops and money earlier thousands of lives and pounds would have been saved. Rather than formulate an aggressive foreign policy to handle the international elements of this issue “she gravitated towards … peace” (Froude 409). “It was like dancing a tight rope. Her movements may have been extremely clever, but they were also extremely dangerous” (Froude 443-444).
When peace negotiations did not work, both rulers turned to marriage alliances. As a way to establish the legitimacy of their rule there was no faster way than to have a powerful, established foreign power seriously consider such a match with the Tudor Dynasty. Weddings were far cheaper than wars.
Their preference for peace could have been their natural dispositions or political clemency. As seen in their handling of insurgents (Perkin Warbeck and Mary, Queen of Scots) both Henry VII and Elizabeth I were reluctant to execute. Unless the security of the realm dictated otherwise, punishments were imprisonment, loss of lands and fines.
Henry had reason to bolster the legitimacy of his claim to the English throne and Elizabeth had reason to bolster her right to the throne being declared an illegitimate child and as an unmarried woman. Surprisingly one way these two rulers intended to establish the Tudor Dynastic legitimacy was through patronage of the arts.
“Henry assembled an impressive array of scholars and notables at his court, favouring the foreign-born rather than the native English” (Tucker 327).
“The King’s passion for music, court revels, sport, foreign scholarship, and more lowly amusements, reveals a keen interest in life and in the new intellectual currents which were transforming the Continent” (Tucker 331). Consequently, many Continental elements “evolved to a distinct English form” and were manifested in the marriage celebrations of Arthur, Prince of Wales and Katherine of Aragon in 1501 (White 141).
Gordon Kipling persuades us that Henry VII felt compelled to display the “magnificence of his royal household and regime through calculated patronage of literature, drama, painting, music, glasswork, tapestry, and every aspect of cultural life…. Henry’s patronage …has been consistently undervalued” (White 141).
Henry employed humanistic tutors for his children. The men at Oxford that Erasmus praised “were in the vanguard of the English humanists who were reforming education at both the secondary and university level” (Tucker 329).
Royal daughters as well as royal sons were educated and we saw that carried through to Elizabeth’s own education. Here we must give her father, Henry VIII, and her mother, Anne Boleyn, credit for continuing Henry VII’s interests in classics, foreign languages, religion, art, music, dance and deportment.
While Henry can be credited with adding the secular classical themes of the Franco-Burgundian Court to England which encouraged alternative cultural elements, Elizabeth added national days, such as Accession Day, rather than religious days to the calendar which encouraged the Renaissance to take firm hold during her reign (Loades 71).
Jan van Dorsten argues that in Elizabethan England “patronage had declined to a very low ebb by the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign” which was certainly reversed by the end of her rule as “the use of patronage to secure political ends by Elizabeth’s courtiers was still intense in a political context” (White 140). Elizabeth’s Court is famous for patronizing troupes of actors, yet recognition as the first sovereign to sponsor troupes of dramatic players goes to Henry VII.
Elizabeth became the subject of many artists’ work from portraits, sonnets and famously, The Faerie Queene. Decades earlier, Henry was compared to the legendary Hercules by Bernard Andre in the poem, Les Douze Triomphes de Henry VII (Tucker 328).
Andre became a tutor for Prince Arthur making true Gordon Kipling’s observation that “Artists in his [Henry VII’s] service became servants in his household…his artists were expected to enhance his estate through their poetry, pageantry, and paintings” (White 140).
Circumstances of Childhoods
Without getting into the ‘nature v. nurture’ debate, one must acknowledge that hereditary traits, physiological and psychological, are present in family members even when the people are not in close proximity (or one has died before the birth of descendants). Also circumstances of a childhood can greatly effect a person.
The upbringings of Henry VII and Elizabeth I (discussed in earlier blogs, “Fate is Remarkable’ and “Persona Non Grata” at www.elizregina.com) taught them to be cautious. “Always guarded in his dealings with others” (Jones 75), Henry’s caution came via military experience and living as a prisoner and political exile for most of his early life. Elizabeth learned early to “keep her own counsel, control her emotions, and to behave circumspectly in public… ” (Weir 17).
Neither Henry nor Elizabeth was kept in the English public’s eye, so to speak, yet both managed to gain widespread support. Henry, living away from England, lost familiarity with English politics. Why so popular? Was it his appeal or were people tired of war?
Elizabeth could have been seen as the calming answer to the religious upheaval from Queen Mary’s reign. Regardless of why, somehow Henry and Elizabeth managed to convey a belief that they had the good of the people at heart. It worked. Years later Elizabeth would exclaim “I care not for myself; my life is not dear to me. My care is for my people” (Elizabeth I).
While Henry learned his statecraft through the observations of Louis XI, The Spider, Elizabeth learned from William Cecil. Henry’s policies of taxation and financial extractions, plus his use of men from the mercantile class as advisors and intelligence agents throughout his reign, came straight from ‘The Spider’ (Wilson 15). Elizabeth adopted most of these ideas in a broad sense. When she learned from William Lambarde, The Keeper of the Records at the Tower of London, about money lent to subjects for bond repayment, she exclaimed, “So did my good grandfather King Henry VII, sparing to dissipate his treasure or lands” (Rowse 56).
Quotation of Psalms
Their religious and Latin studies emerged in a simplistic way as both quoted psalms at the crucial time of their rise to power. When Henry landed on English soil he reportedly quoted Psalm 43:1, Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me. Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight against an unholy people, rescue me from the wicked and deceitful man (Temperley 16).
Elizabeth is said to have whispered from Psalm 118:23 what she truly must have felt, “A Domino factum est istud et est mirabile in oculis nostris.” This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Big Picture, Small Details
Having a strong general background on the lives of Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth this blogger decided on the topic series, The Lion’s Grandcub. Comparing the two opened up avenues of study previously unexplored. So many things were learned, so many more questions raised, so many hours diverted from other topics—what bliss for an amateur historian.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the discovery of so many sources available digitally and in translation. Of course, many primary sources are not objective and history tends to revise its opinion on past figures. Regardless, research eventually taps all available resources and the historian, left to the mercy of said sources, is stopped. That was not the case here. Instead this blogger had to restrain herself and resist continued inquiry into these fascinating characters of Henry VII and Elizabeth I.
Both sovereigns were intelligent, tenacious, independent, and dedicated. They strengthened the country through their appointment of capable advisors, promotion of the arts, fiscal policies and adherence to peace at home and abroad. How easy to admire them as exceptional rulers in exceptional times.
Although this series is completed, this blogger is eagerly anticipating dealing with other topics concerning Elizabeth Regina.
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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.
Carpenter, Christine. The Wars of the Roses: Politics and the Constitution in England, C. 1437-1509. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Google Books. Web. 21 Apr. 2013.
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