The History of England
Summary: A concise history of England in a weekly podcast. We follow English history all the way from the Anglo Saxon invasions at the start of the 6th Century.
In 1513 there were two English victories. One of them would have a profound effect on English history. The other one was mainly a mad dash in pursuit of a bunch of cavalry eager to escape.
The path of Renaissance diplomacy was both torturous and without scruple; as Henry finds out as he thirsts for glory.
Historians have identified the 16th and 17th centuries as a time of revolutionary change in Europe, driven by military technology. We talk a bit about that, and about the personalities Henry VIII was up against.
Was Shakespeare really who we think he was? Or maybe it was the polymath Francis Bacon? Or various Earls...or, what about Elizabeth I? She didn't have a lot to do of an evening...
Henry VIII was released by this accession to the courtly, chivalric life of the hunt, and masque, and tournaments. In this he was encouraged by by Council - while his father's 'peace party' got on with the business of ruling.
The accession of Henry VIII was greeted with a huge sigh of relief and great enthusiasm. His court was to change immediately, and politics for ever. Although the Book of the Courtier would not appear until 1528, it could have been written for the Tudor court to explain how to win the favour of the Prince.
How Henry has been assessed by historians through the ages, and the controversies of his reign. And assessments of the man himself.
Through the 15th century, Portugal explored the African coast in search of the Indies and the fabulous wealth of the trading networks with the East - such as those of Mansa Musa from Timbuktu. Until the great expeditions of Columbus and Da Gama led to the opening of contact with the Americas and Asia.
What happened when Henry was gone. And the report card - was Henry an incompetent tyrant, a fun loving saviour of England's future - or something in between? Should we listen to Francis Bacon or to Henry himself?
While the young prince Henry built a group of aristocratic companions and longed desperately for the joust, his father drove his hatchet men Dudley and Empson ever further into the dark world of extortion and oppression. But in 1509, Henry fell ill again.
Henry had found two hatchet men to replace Reginald Bray - Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They spread their tentacles and contacts through London and England, and used the Council Learned to drive their master's policy to extort every possible fee 'to the king's advantage'. And did pretty well for themselves too.
In the early 1500's Henry VII saw many of his closest confidentes and supporters die. Catherine of Aragon was to be one of those who suffered as a result. He also built the rather magnificent palace at Sheen, renaming it Richmond; not knowing that in a few years, it would be the place of his death.
Henry made changes to the English court, administration and legal system. He increased the health of royal finances, and tried to make the justice system work better, based around the JP. But many of his actions would be seen as setting a path to tyranny and avarice later in the reign
After negotiations that would win prizes, it was finally time for Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth's pride and joy Prince Arthur to marry the Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon.
The travels of Perkin Warbeck take him to Scotland, marriage and war; which leads to taxes, which leads to rebellion. T'was ever thus.