Life at Henry VII's Court

M.J. Tucker describes how, although he may have looked rather like a medieval miser, Henry VII attracted to his Court some of the best minds of the Renaissance

Whenever intellectual life at Henry VII’s court is discussed, invidious comparisons are made with his son’s establishment. Invariably the father comes off second-best, looking like an old miser: too penurious to promote the arts, too concerned with his own safety to foster carefree attitudes at court, and too practical to enjoy music, dancing, and festival. Often he is associated in the mind with a dour, sombre-hued character straight out of the Middle Ages, while his son represents the typically brave new world of Renaissance. The contrast is one of light versus shadow. If there is some truth that the first Tudor inhabited the shadows, there is also a truth that he emerged frequently enough from the secrecy surrounding his policy to be observed enjoying hunting, tennis, dicing, and court revels. The courtiers that he gathered about him included some of the finest European poets, humanists, historians, and scientists of his age— men who came in contact with the future Henry VIII, often as his tutors, the men most responsible for forming Henry VIII’s liberal attitude to intellect that without scholars ‘we should scarcely exist at all’.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.