Despite overthrowing Richard III in battle, Henry’s claim to the throne was weak, and he was surrounded by pretenders to the throne. Henry’s first action was to declare himself King, and to state that his reign began before the Battle of Bosworth field. This meant that all challenges to his supremacy since then – including that of Richard III, were to be counted as treason.
Henry VII consolidates his postition
In order to secure his position internationally he made a treaty with France, and recognised the new county of Spain in arranging for his son Arthur Tudor to marry Catherine of Aragon. Arthur died in an epidemic in 1502, and Henry’s wife, Elizabeth of York, died a year later in childbirth. Henry tried to maintain the relationship between England and Spain by obtaining a Papal dispensation for his son, who would become Henry VIII, to marry Catherine in Arthur’s place. It was not normally permitted for a man to marry his brother’s widow. People said that the blow of losing his son and wife in quick succession led Henry to die of a broken heart.
Henry VIII became king as the only surviving male heir of Henry VII, despite being one of six siblings. Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon at only 17 years old. Henry married Catherine on 11 June 1509, and on 24 June 1509, the two were crowned at Westminster Abbey. By today’s standards this seems very young – both for marriage and kingship, however only two days after his coronation, Henry had two of his father’s ministers arrested on groundless charges of high treason and executed. This was to become Henry’s primary tactic for dealing with those who stood in his way.
It is sometimes very difficult to unravel human behaviour in our everyday lives let alone in the lives of those who lived hundreds of years ago; to work out why someone develops a particular character. It seems that from the very outset Henry VIII was a ruthless monarch; but set against the background of relentless wars, rivalry, plots, threats from within and from overseas powers it seems difficult to see how this could have been otherwise?