How Henry VII was able to take the throne in 1485
Henry was born as the son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort. He spent most of his youth in his home country of Wales. Following the accession of Edward IV in 1471, Henry fled abroad to Brittany because he was the only Lancastrian claimant left. Hence this would have been a strong position for Henry because he would have gained the support of many Lancastrian’s. Henrys upbringing was of crucial importance in enabling him to take the throne. In Brittany he was trained up in the courts and not as a king.
The experience in the Breton and French courts prepared him for kingship in a different sense. It gave him a wide range of experiences and he gained inside knowledge on the ways of the Dukes on Nobles. When Edward the IV died Richard the III usurped the throne from Edward the V. Edward the V and Richard Duke of York were locked up in a tower and were never seen again. Many people thought Richard had murdered them and this made him extremely unpopular. Due to Richards’ unpopularity Henry gained more support in his attempt of taking the throne because many people simply wanted rid of Richard.
From these rumours he also gained the support of Yorkists- Elizabeth Woodville whose two sons were the ones that Richard III was alleged to have killed and also Elizabeth’s daughter Elizabeth of York, who actually married Henry. Notably he gained support of former Yorkists who had opposed Richards’s usurpation. From 1459 the country had been split by the War of the Roses, a civil war fought between the noble families of York and Lancaster over who was going to be king.
It made the monarchy unstable and the crown changed hands five times in less than twenty-five years. The marriage of Henry and Elizabeth united the two sides and from here the Tudor age began. Generally peace was made between the two sides which would be useful if Henry made it to the throne. France and Britain had always been traditional enemies and the French wanted any opportunity to cause a civil war in England. Henry gained much support and also the use of armed forces.
Doreen Digs Bury’s comments “Without French support it is unlikely that Henry would have had the resources at his disposal sufficient to launch a realistic invasion of England”. Henry would have had to repay the French for the support they lent him, but this support was vital for him to be able to consider a realistic invasion of England. Henry joined in with the plot with the Duke of Buckingham in 1483. It was a planned rebellion against Richard III. Henry Tudor left Brittany with support making for Wales.
The plot failed and Buckingham was executed. Hundreds of rebels left England for the Breton court to support Henry Tudor. Therefore this event was actually useful in gaining support for Henry. In 1485 Henry launched his next attack making for Wales with French and Breton help. The battle began on ambient hill. Richard was at the top of hill with 15,000 troops whereas Henry was stationary at the bottom of the hill with only 5,000 troops. A lot of Richards’s supporters were not loyal and he decided that he needed to kill Henry himself.
Henry was just about to be killed when the tactics of the battle changed. Sir William Stanley had 3,000 men in his army he was supposed to be loyal to Richard III, however in the battle his sided with Henry and killed Richard III and therefore Henry was crowned king. Support of the nobility itself was crucial in order to gain and remain upon the throne. Nobles each had their own private army. Without the support of nobles life could be very difficult. Many nobles disliked Richard III and were sympathetic to the cause of Henry.
In the months leading up to the battle of Bosworth Field, Henry and Jasper Tudor gained the support of many influential nobles. The actions of the Stanley’s prove how important this was. The key factors of Henry’s rise to the throne were therefore -his gain of supporters, the continued loyalty of his fellow friends and family- (Margaret Beaufort, Jasper Tudor, John de Vere-the biggest landowner and leader of the Lancastrian’s and Edward Woodville). Also the support of the Stanley’s, the events listed and the general unpopularity of Richard III played very crucial parts in him becoming king.