I’ve written elsewhere on the blog about the use of stories to help make History teaching appealing and engaging to students. Amongst all the stats and dates it helps to make the past feel real and interesting when they learn about real exciting characters. https://historytiglet.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/using-stories-to-embed-develop-students-engagement-and-affective-skills-in-history-lessons/. Within my Action Research Project I have aimed to make the subject interesting because it is a fascinating topic. The use of stories is one aspect of the research I wish to take further because it seems to have a real impact on student enjoyment. The amount of times I have heard “it is just like Game of Thrones”. So here is a taster for you of these stories and just a few of the rebellions Henry VII faced.. Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, was born on 28 January 1457 at Pembroke Castle into a country torn apart by civil war and plague.
His mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort was married to Henry IV’s (Lancastrian) half-brother Edmund Tudor who died three months before his birth, leaving Margaret a widow at 14. Henry Tudor, had royal blood through his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who was a descendant of Edward III.
In 1461 the Lancastrian defeat at the Battle of Towton allowed Edward IV (House of York) to claim the throne. Henry Tudor wardship was sold to William Herbert and he was only reunited with his mother when Henry IV and his allies briefly reclaim the throne in 1470.
However, Edward IV decisive victory in 1471, saw Henry flee into exile to Brittany with his Uncle Jasper Tudor at the age of 14. He was not to see England or his mother again for fourteen years.
Henry Tudor sets out for England on 1 August 1485 with almost 5000 French mercenaries and landed at Milford Haven in Wales. On 22nd August Henry reached Bosworth and faced Richard III army of 15,000 men.
In the battle Richard and Henry came face-to-face, and Henry was saved by his uncle Sir William Stanley. Lord Stanley, his stepfather, did little during the battle but turned on Richard III once it looked like Henry would win.
Historians agree that Henry’s formative years in exile taught his self-restraint and that the only way to end the War the Roses was to unite the kingdom.
Henry VII was now king but he was to face several major Yorkist Rebellions. Despite Henry’s attempts to heal the rift between the Yorkists and Lancastrians by marrying Elizabeth of York disillusioned members of the Yorkist faction plotted his removal.
Lovell’s Rebellion 1486
Henry VII had to face his first rebellion within a year of claiming the throne. Francis Lovell, and Thomas and Humphrey Stafford had fought for Richard III at Bosworth. After his defeat they had claimed sanctuary at Colchester. Hearing that Henry was travelling north to York on his first royal progress, royal tour, they decided to break sanctuary to raise a rebellion. However, the lack of a figurehead, meant the rebellion never gained much popular support in the North. Henry sent an armed force to meet them and negotiated terms of surrender. Thomas Stafford was forgiven and Humphrey Stafford was beheaded. Lovell escaped and was to play a leading role in the more serious Simnel Rebellion.
Simnel’s Rebellion 1487
The Earl of Warwick was the youngest surviving male member of the Yorkist family who held a strong claim to the throne through his father George, The Duke of Clarence, the middle bother of Edward IV and Richard III. Originally Henry VII sent the Earl of Warwick to live with his mother but less than a year later he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The Yorkist rebels realised after the failed Lovell Rebellion that they needed a figurehead but with Warwick in the Tower they were forced to look for a puppet who could impersonate him. Symons, a priest detected a likelihood between the eleven-year-old Earl of Warwick, and a commoner Lambert Simnel. In 1486 Simnel was taken to Dublin by Symons, where he was proclaimed King by the Irish Earl of Kildare who was seeking to create trouble for Henry VII in order to seize greater power in Ireland. Margaret of Burgundy, who was the sister of Edward IV and Richard III, naturally hated Henry. She was a wealthy widow who sent money as well as 2000 mercenaries to Ireland to help theSimnel’s Rebellion. In 1486, the Earl of Lincoln who also held a claim to the English throne had fled to Burgundy to meet up with Lovell. The two returned to Ireland to head the invasion. The rebels landed in Lancashire in 1487, however relatively few Englishmen joined the rebel arm as it moved south, particularly as they were scared by the undisciplined Irish followers. Luck was again on Henry’s side and his forces triumphed at the Battle of Stoke in 1487 near Newark on Trent.
Lambert Simnel was nothing more than a puppet, who would not doubt have been side lined by the Earl of Lincoln if the rebellion had succeeded. Henry paraded Simnel which gained him popular support. Simnel was sent to work in the royal kitchen to reinforce his lowly status but in time he rose to be the king’s chief falconer. Henry was also helped by the fact he could produce the real Earl of Warwick who he paraded through the streets of London before returning him to the Tower of London were he would remain until his execution in 1499 when he tried to escape after fourteen years in captivity. Other adult rebels were dealt with more harshly; 28 Acts of Attainder were passed against rebel leaders who were placed under heavy financial bonds. By this time Henry also had a male heir in Arthur which helped to make him more secure. To celebrate he finally declared Elizabeth Queen in 1488 to appease the Yorkist loyal to him.