On this day in 1509 – King Henry VII died

On 21st April 1509 King Henry VII, the first monarch of the House of Tudor died.

King_Henry_VII

Henry won the throne from King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and by marrying Elizabeth of York he united the houses of York and Lancaster bringing an end to civil unrest. Henry restored political stability to England as well as many administrative, economic and diplomatic advances. However, Henry’s final years were overshadowed by his greed and unfair treatment which caused many Englishmen to be indebted to Henry. Upon his death Henry had gained a personal fortune of £1.25 million, which is the equivalent of £978 million in 2015.

Henry VII was not a military man and did not seek to gain fame on the battlefield so he signed peace treaties that ensured peace remained. Henry formed many alliances which he strengthened through marriage. His son, Arthur, was betrothed to Katherine, daughter of Queen Isabella of Catile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. Henry also married his daughter, Margaret, to King James IV of Scotland.

Although the Wars of the Roses had ended Henry still had to deal with rebellions from those loyal to the former King as well as pretenders to the throne most notably Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck who both claimed to be the rightful heirs to the throne.

King Henry’s wife, Elizabeth, died in 1503 during childbirth and Henry attempted to negotiate a new marriage and even briefly considered marrying Katherine of Aragon, the widow of his son and heir Arthur. However, neither this nor any other women that was considered ended up being the new queen of England. After the death Elizabeth, Henry fell ill and would only allow his mother, Margaret Beaufort, to attend him. The Tower of London was not used again as a residential palace by Henry and even his son used other palaces in London for the births of his children. It appears then that the death of the Queen affected both her husband and son deeply.

The last couple of years of Henry’s reign he had been ill many times however, in February 1509 he became ill once again and this time it was likely he would die. On the evening of 20th April Henry summoned his confessor to administer the last rites. He knew his time was coming to an end. His confessor anointed Henry with the holy oil and performed mass.

King Henry VII died at Richmond Palace at 11pm on 21st April 1509 of turberculosis. He was buried at Westminster Abbey next to his wife in the chapel that he commissioned. His son Henry was proclaimed King on 24th April.

Henry VII tomb

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