Nathen Amin on Henry VII

For the first decade of his reign, Henry VII was plagued by a pair of pretenders who sought to seize his hard-won crown: Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. In his talk at our Kings and Queens Weekend in March, author and historian Nathen Amin will examine how Henry faced down these threats and established the Tudor dynasty...

King Henry VII of England. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

We caught up with Nathen Amin ahead of his talk, Henry VII and the Pretenders to the Tudor Crown, at our Kings and Queens Weekend in March…

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Q: What can audiences look forward to in your talk?

A: A tale of intrigue, conspiracy, and betrayal, as a king who famously won his crown on the battlefield now has to fend off two separate pretenders who claim that very same crown is theirs by birthright. But why was Henry VII’s position under threat? Who were Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, and were they the Princes in the Tower? And just how close did the Tudor dynasty come to ruin during the first decade of its existence?

Q: Why are you so interested in this particular monarch?

A: Henry VII has long been an overlooked English monarch, despite being one of the most competent rulers. Wise and cautious, yet brave and resolute, Henry’s dramatic tale is one of the most fascinating, and unlikely, of any British ruler – from his upbringing in the house of his family’s enemies, to his 14-year exile overseas and unfathomable return in 1485 to kill Richard III, capture a crown he had little right to, and marry a princess. It’s a story for all ages, and there are far more layers to this man worthy of exploration beyond the dull, dour, accountant stereotype that has unfairly persisted for far too long.

Q: Tell us something that might surprise or shock us about this monarch’s life…

A: Henry VII was a big spender. Most people think he was a miserly king, but while he accumulated wealth beyond imagination, he certainly was not parsimonious. It was he who ordered a hospital for “poor needy people” to be built in Savoy, for which he provided 10,000 marks, and of course the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey is arguably one of the finest royal building projects in British history. On a smaller scale, Henry was also an avid gambler, with several references in his accounts of losing money on cards. These are not the actions of a miser!

For more information about our Kings and Queens Weekend and Nathen Amin’s talk on Henry VII, click here:

Nathen Amin will talk on Henry VII.

Q: What is your favourite ‘little-known fact’ from history?

A: There were two Margaret Beauforts with sons named Henry who rebelled against Richard III. The first was famously the Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of Henry Tudor; the second was her first cousin, the Countess of Stafford, mother of Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who was executed by Richard in October 1483.

Q: Which three historical figures would you invite to a dinner party, and why?

A: Henry VII, to discuss his Welsh background; Muhammad Ali, a recent personal hero; and Jack the Ripper, to uncover history’s greatest whodunit and bring some belated closure to the families of the victims.

Q: If you had to live in any historical time period, which would you choose and why?

A: I could see myself as an anonymous scribe or clerk during the 1480s, observing the shenanigans and plots at court while recording my thoughts for posterity. And, of course, keeping my head down lest I be noticed, do or say something wrong, and lose it upon the chopping block.

Nathen Amin is a Welsh author specialising in the study of Henry VII and the Wars of the Roses. His first book Tudor Wales was released in 2014, followed by the bestselling House of Beaufort in 2017. He is currently working on his next project, Henry VII and Pretenders to the Tudor Crown, due for release in 2020.

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He will be speaking about Henry VII at our Kings and Queens Weekend on Saturday 2 March 2019.

Click here to find out more about the event and buy tickets

BBC History Magazine Kings and Queens Weekend