Books about Henry VII

As expected from a website dedicated to Henry VII, we are particularly interested in books which discuss the life and times of the first Tudor monarch. These come in all shapes and sizes, from academic textbooks to popular history works, and can cover his entire life or only part of his reign. If we have missed one on the list below, please let us know at henrytudorsociety@gmail.com.

*Please Note – The following are official blurbs, and should not be taken as reccomendations*

  • Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors by Chris Skidmore

On the morning of 22 August 1485, in fields several miles from Bosworth, two armies faced each other, ready for battle. The might of Richard III’s army was pitted against the inferior forces of the upstart pretender to the crown, Henry Tudor, a 28-year-old Welshman who had just arrived back on British soil after 14 years in exile. Yet this was to be a fight to the death – only one man could survive; only one could claim the throne.

It would become one of the most legendary battles in English history: the only successful invasion since Hastings, it was the last time a king died on the battlefield. But BOSWORTH is much more than the account of the dramatic events of that fateful day in August. It is a tale of brutal feuds and deadly civil wars, and the remarkable rise of the Tudor family from obscure Welsh gentry to the throne of England – a story that began 60 years earlier with Owen Tudor’s affair with Henry V’s widow, Katherine of Valois.

Drawing on eyewitness reports, newly discovered manuscripts and the latest archaeological evidence, Chris Skidmore vividly recreates this battle-scarred world in an epic saga of treachery and ruthlessness, death and deception and the birth of the Tudor dynasty.

  • Bosworth 1485; a Battle Rediscovered by Glenn Foard and Anne Curry
Bosworth is one of the most iconic of English battles. Here Richard III suffered what, thanks to Shakespeare, is arguably the most memorable death of any English king, bringing an end to the Wars of the Roses and heralding the Tudor era. But it was also England s most famous lost battlefield. To find and explore the site, the authors led an intensive programme of research, using a wide range of academic disciplines. Bosworth 1485: A battlefield rediscovered is the result. Techniques included documentary analysis, landscape archaeology, place name study and, most important, metal detecting survey. Using the resulting evidence the book explores the battle and battlefield from the composition of the armies to the terrain in which the battle was fought. They may even have found the very place where Richard fell. Yet most important is the evidence for early gunpowder weapons. Using cutting edge scientific research and ballistic experiments the authors reveal, for the first time, how to read the evidence on medieval lead round shot, just as a ballistic examiner reveals the story of a modern bullet.

  • The Battle of Bosworth by Michael Bennett

On an August morning more that five hundred years ago, to the sound of thundering hooves, gunshot, the clash of steel and the cries of men in battle, Richard III, King of England, lost his life and the Plantagenet name came to an end. But what do we really know of the battle which became known as Bosworth Field? How do we separate fact from legend when our knowledge is based on sources which by any reckoning are meagre, garbled or partisan?
In this classic account Michael Bennett provides as detailed and authoritative a reconstruction of the battle, and the events that led up to it, as is possible. It is an enthralling detective story uncovering the real facts behind one of the most famous of British battles.

  • Bosworth 1485; Battle Story by Mike Ingram

The Battle of Bosworth was a defining moment in English history, as the Houses of Lancaster and York clashed in the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses. The death of King Richard III and the crowning of Henry Tudor as king of England marked the end of the Plantagenet dynasty and the beginning of the Tudor reign. If you want to truly understand this momentous battle – read Battle Story.

Detailed profiles explore the roles of the Yorkist and Lancastrian leaders: Richard III and Henry Tudor
Modern and contemporary images capture the essence of the battle
Maps highlight the deployment and movements of the opposing armies on the battlefield
Historical sources tell the story of the fighting from both sides
Orders of Battle reveal the composition of the opposing forces’ armies
Packed with fact boxes, this short introduction is the perfect way to explore this important battle

  • Henry VII; The Maligned Tudor King by Terry Breverton

Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII, has been called the most unlikely King of England. Yet his rise from obscurity was foretold by the bards, and by 1485, the familial bloodbath of the Wars of the Roses left Henry as the sole adult Lancastrian claimant to the throne. The hunchback usurper Richard III desperately wanted him dead, and in his exile Henry Tudor was left with no choice. He either invaded England or faced being traded to Richard to meet certain death.

Henry’s father, Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, was the son of a Queen of England, sister to the King of France, and of an obscure Welsh court servant, who had been born in secrecy away from court. Edmund’s death at the beginning of the Wars of the Roses left Henry to grow up in almost constant danger, imprisonment and exile. In 1485, his ‘ragtag’ invading army at Bosworth faced overwhelming odds, but succeeded.

Henry went on to become England’s wisest and greatest king, but it would be his son Henry VIII and granddaughter Elizabeth I who would take all the credit.

  • Elizabeth of York; The Forgotten Tudor Queen by Amy Licence

As Tudors go, Elizabeth of York is relatively unknown. Yet she was the mother of the dynasty, with her children becoming King of England (Henry VIII) and Queens of Scotland (Margaret) and France (Mary Rose) and her direct descendants included three Tudor monarchs, two executed queens and, ultimately, the Stuart royal family. Although her offspring took England into the early modern era, Elizabeth’s upbringing was rooted firmly in the medieval world. The pivotal moment was 1485. Before then, her future was uncertain amid the turbulent Wars of the Roses, Elizabeth being promised first to one man and then another, and witnessing the humiliation and murder of her family. Surviving the bloodbath of the reign of her uncle, Richard III, she slipped easily into the roles of devoted wife and queen to Henry VII and mother to his children, and has been venerated ever since for her docility and beauty. But was she as placid as history has suggested? In fact, she may have been a deeply cultured and intelligent survivor who learned to walk a difficult path through the twists and turns of fortune. Perhaps she was more of a modern woman than historians have given her credit for.

  • Elizabeth of York; The First Tudor Queen by Alison Weir

Elizabeth of York would have ruled England, but for the fact that she was a woman. Heiress to the royal House of York, she schemed to marry Richard III, the man who had deposed and probably killed her brothers, and it is possible that she then conspired to put Henry Tudor on the throne.

Yet after marriage to Henry VII, which united the royal houses of Lancaster and York, a picture emerges of a model consort – mild, pious, generous and fruitful. It has been said that Elizabeth was distrusted by Henry VII and her formidable mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, but contemporary evidence shows that Elizabeth was, in fact, influential.

Alison Weir builds an intriguing portrait of this beloved queen, placing her in the context of the magnificent, ceremonious, often brutal, world she inhabited, and revealing the woman behind the myth.

  • Winter King; The Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn

In his remarkable debut, Penn vividly recreates the dark and turbulent reign of Henry VII. He traces the transformation of a young, vulnerable boy, Prince Henry, into the aggressive teenager who would become Henry VIII, and of Catherine of Aragon, his future queen. And at the book’s heart is the tragic, magnetic figure of Henry VII – controlling, paranoid, avaricious, with a Machiavellian charm and will to power.

  • Henry VII; The First Tudor King by Bryan Bevan

Henry Tudor was born in 1457, the son of Edmund Tudor and the Lady Margaret Beaufort. After Edward IV had defeated the Lancastrian Henry VI in battle, the young Henry Tudor was taken into custody by the earl of Pembroke at his seat, Raglan Castle in Wales. Henry was 14 years in Wales, and spent another 14 as a political exile at the Court of Francois II of Brittany. After the murder of Henry VI and the death of his son, Prince Edward, Henry of Richmond (as he was then known) became head of the House of Lancaster. Henry invaded England in 1485 to defeat the last tyrannous Plantagenet king at Bosworth Field. Henry’s hereditary claim to the throne was weak but our first Tudor king was a born politician and became one of our ablest kings. Bryan Bevan shows how Henry ruled over a splendid court never stinting on expense. His greatest sorrow was the premature death of his son Prince Arthur and after his wife Elizabeth’s death, Henry’s character deteriorated. He became mean and niggardly. Succeeding to an impoverished kingdom, his ambition was to make England important in the Europe of the time and in that he succeeded, leaving a prosperous kingdom to Henry VIII.

  • Henry VII by Sean Cunningham

This biography illuminates the life of Henry VII himself, how he ran his government, how his authority was maintained, and the nature of the country over which he ruled since he first claimed the throne in 1485.

Sean Cunningham explores how Henry’s reign was vitally important in stabilizing the English monarchy and providing the sound financial and institutional basis for later developments in government, and tackles key questions in the debate:

Was Henry VII a conventional late medieval nobleman? How did his upbringing affect his later kingship? What was the nature of Henry’s marriage to Elizabeth of York? How and why did he become the main rival to Richard III following the disappearance of Edward V and his brother in July 1483?

Up until now the details of Henry as a person and as a king, his court and household, his subjects, and his country have remained little known. This book fills that gap, bringing to the forefront the life and times of the very first Tudor king.

  • Henry VII by SB Chrimes
Founder of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII was a crucial figure in English history. In this acclaimed study of the king’s life and reign, the distinguished historian S. B. Chrimes explores the circumstances surrounding Henry’s acquisition of the throne, examines the personnel and machinery of government, and surveys the king’s social, political, and economic policies, law enforcement, and foreign strategy. This edition of the book includes a new critical introduction and bibliographical updating by George Bernard.
  • The History of the Reign of Henry VII by Francis Bacon
Although written some hundred years after the death of his subject, Bacon’s analysis of the life of his former monarch is both penetrating and insightful. Rather than simply list the facts of his reign, Bacon examines Henry VII’s motivations to create not only an important historical work, but also a key document in the development of political thought. The result is essential reading for anyone interested in history, politics or literature.
  • A Short History of Henry the Seventh by James Gairdner

James Gairdner’s historical biography of Henry the Seventh offers a fascinating insight into the life of the founder of England’s most famous dynasty: The Tudors.

He argues that Henry’s noble birth as the head of the house of Lancaster set him inadvertently on the path to rule, despite never displaying any desire to dispossess either Edward IV or Richard III of the throne.

Born in 1457 to a father who was already two months dead, and to a mother who was only a teenage, Henry Tudor could hardly be said to have had an easy start in life. Tensions between the House of Lancaster and the House of York led to a turbulent upbringing for young Henry, and he was eventually implored by his mother to escape to France as a political exile, following the execution of Henry VI in 1471 in the Tower. Fortune changed yet again for Henry after the death of Edward IV. Edward’s son, Edward V, who was just a boy of twelve, was usurped by his uncle, Richard III.

Support for Henry grew after Richard’s perceived villainy, and the pair famously met at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Henry was crowned King Henry VII on the top of Crown Hill, after Richard was defeated and killed on the battlefield.

Less well-known than his fiery, impulsive son and successor, Henry VIII who famously had a taste for lavish feasts, expensive wars, and for disposing of his wives, Henry VII’s reign was conversely characterised by thrift, prudence, and cool-headed political strategies.

His decision to marry Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York, was possibly the first example of the shrewdness of his stratagems. By combining the white rose of the House of York with the red rose of the House of Lancaster, Henry VII famously created the Tudor Rose, and stabilised the ongoing tensions that for so long had caused war throughout England. Gairdner’s well-researched and lucid biography is essential reading for anyone interested in the Tudor dynasty.

  • The Son of Prophecy; Henry Tudor’s Road to Bosworth by David Rees

This is a classic account of the Welsh background of Henry Tudor and the Bosworth campaign. Set against the events of the Wars of the Roses in which three kings die violently, this story of Henry’s great adventure is full of striking personalities. Owen Tudor, scion of an old Anglesey family who won the heart of a lonely queen, found of the Tudor fortunes; William Herbert, an obscure Gwent squire who became on of Edward IV’s closest advisors; Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, guardian both of Henry Tudor and of the Lancastrian cause on Wales; Dafydd Llwyd of Mathafarn, the poet and seer with whom Henry Tudor communed on the road to Bosworth. Above all, the book tells the story of a calculating prince who won the throne against the odds – and with such a result that his descendents sit on the throne.

  • Henry VII by Alexander Grant

The importance of Henry VII is the subject of heated debate. Did his reign mark the start of a new era, or was its prevailing characteristic continunity with the past? The pamphlet:
· emphasizes the lasting political stability established during the reign
· demonstrates the difference between Henry’s policies and those of the Yorkists
· shows how successors built on Henry’s legacy
· argues that victory at Bosworth in 1485 can be seen as initiating a genunine ‘Tudor revolution in government’.

  • Henry VII by Roger Lockyer and Roger Thrush
This study reassesses the policies of the founder of the Tudor dynasty and shows how Henry worked within existing traditions rather than breaking with the past. Every facet of the reign is considered including the nature of government – both at central and local level, financial policy, relations with the Church, foreign policy, economic affairs and concludes by assessing Henry as a ‘new monarch’.
  • Henry VII by Caroline Rogers and Roger Turvey
The book provides a full coverage of Henry VII’s reign and examines how he established his dynasty and consolidated his power through his foreign and domestic policies.
  • Bosworth 1485; Psychology of a Battle by Michael Jones

In 1485 the Battle of Bosworth marked an epoch in the lives of two great houses: the house of York fell to the ground when Richard III died on the field of battle; and the house of Tudor rose from the massacre to reign for the next hundred years.

Michael Jones, co-author of The King’s Grave: The Search for Richard III, rewrites this landmark event in English history. He shifts our perspective of its heroes and villains and puts Richard firmly back into the context of his family and his times.

  • The Making of the Tudor Dynasty by Ralph Griffiths and Roger Thomas
The peculiar origins of the Tudor family and the improbable saga of their rise and fall and rise again in the centuries before the Battle of Bosworth have been largely overlooked. Based on both published and manuscript aources from Britain and France, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty sets the record straight by providing the only coherant and authoritative account of the ancestors of the Tudor royal family from their beginnings in North Wales at the start of the thirteenth century, through royal English and French connections in the fifteenth century, to Henry Tudor’s victory at Bosworth Field in 1485.
  • Henry VII by Gladys Temperley

Called the ‘Solomon of England’, he was a promoter of art and literature, and helped English life become imbued with the pleasures of the Renaissance.

He put up with the conspiracy of Lambert Simnel, pretender to the throne, and the popularity of Perkin Warbeck, and dealt with dissent in the North of England from dissatisfied supporters of the House of York. The Earl of Warwick was eventually executed for his stirrings against Henry.

The king preferred diplomacy to warfare, and from the start of his reign he watched the French was a cautious eye. He rewarded navigators who found new lands abroad, and was generous to bishops and subjects. He had great ambitions and took a wide and general view of the course of European politics, using his unmatched diplomatic skill to play upon international rivalries for his own purposes. Throughout his reign he had many dealings with Philip of Spain.

It was said that Henry turned English commercial attentions to power, rather than accumulation and quantity, and for this reason he put into place the mercantile system to regulate industry and increase England’s trade position in Europe. He also reformed some of the courts, introducing the short-lived Star Chamber.

With this in mind, Henry reformed coinage, weights and measures, and sought to appeal to the middle classes. Temperley writes at length on the ‘popular despotism’ that Henry VII set forth for the Tudor dynasty, whereby he drew the power from the will of the people, supported by the noblemen and the Church. The House of Commons acted for the Crown in a manner that had never been seen in England before, strengthening Henry’s influence on the English people.

The king established treaties and set up alliances through marriages between English and foreign royalty, including his son Arthur’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon which Temperley explains was drawn-out and extravagant, full of gifts and promises. Henry improved the bond between England and the Papacy as part of the Holy League, which assisted him in his feud with Scotland, while he supported the war on the Turks. Temperley also notes Henry’s treatment of Ireland and the brief feud with the land ‘beyond the Pale’.

Many writers called his reign dismal and harsh, but Temperley’s view is that Henry VII was a munificent, Christian king who was good for England.

  • Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England by Steven Gunn
The reign of Henry VII is important but mysterious. He ended the Wars of the Roses and laid the foundations for the strong governments of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Yet his style of rule was unconventional and at times oppressive. At the heart of his regime stood his new men, low-born ministers with legal, financial, political, and military skills who enforced the king’s will and in the process built their own careers and their families’ fortunes. Some are well known, like Sir Edward Poynings, governor of Ireland, or Empson and Dudley, executed to buy popularity for the young Henry VIII. Others are less famous.
Sir Robert Southwell was the king’s chief auditor, Sir Andrew Windsor the keeper of the king’s wardrobe, Sir Thomas Lovell, the Chancellor of the Exchequer so trusted by Henry that he was allowed to employ the former Yorkist pretender Lambert Simnel as his household falconer. Some paved the way to glory for their relatives. Sir Thomas Brandon, master of the horse, was the uncle of Henry VIII’s favourite Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Sir Henry Wyatt, keeper of the jewel house, was father to the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt. This volume, based on extensive archival research, presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of the new men. It analyses the offices and relationships through which they exercised power and the ways they gained their wealth and spent it to sustain their new-found status. It establishes their importance in the operation of Henry’s government and, as their careers continued under his son, in the making of Tudor England.
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