Henery VII wanted England to be a prosperous nation and with this end in view he and his Parliamentarians made substantial addition to the code of national economic welfare.
The work started by him in the fourteenth century was to reach its apex in the 16th century. The teaching measures of the reign sprang directly from that complex of charges, agrarian, industrial and commercial, which itself reflected the quickening tempo of the nation’s economic life.
Innovations in Foreign Trade:
In the field of foreign trade Henery VII made very important innovations. It is common knowledge that foreign trade has always exerted a great incidence upon the economic development of a nation. During Henery’s period the overseas cloth trade was to prove one of the most powerful dissolvents of the traditional economy.
Before Henery, English trade oh the East coasts cut off the hostile forces of the Samnam Hamsa, while the impact of the last phase of the Hundred year’s war was still being felt on the south-west, so all the English trade now concentrated on Netherlands. Cloth trade became a national monopoly and the traders were the chief gainers Just after Henery VII’s accession, in i486 the merchant Adventures was formed.
This was an organisation of London merchant’s created mainly to keep out the provincial rivals for whose membership they fixed a discouragingly high redemption fee.
Great Commercial Intercourse:
During the early years of Henery VII’s reign, the Antwerp trade was dislocated by serious-political upheavals. But in 1496 Henery negotiated with Netherlands a favourable commercial treaty known as Intercourse Magnus.
The new era of economic intimacy thus inaugurated swelled the streams of English commercial enterprise flowing into the Antwerp trade and brought to a head the struggle between the Londoners and their competitors.
The king himself was compelled to intervene and in 1947 an Act of the Parliament imposed a settlement which is a landmark in the history of Merchant Adventures.
At first sight, this settlement, with its admission to the Netherlands market of any merchant in return for a specified and much reduced competition fee appears a decided setback to the company’s exclusivist programme, its real significance was quite otherwise. By fixing the fee Parliament had by implication recognised company’s right to exact payment and compliance with regulations, from all merchants trading within that area.
The Act thus marks the first step in the process which could gradually convert an unofficial and loosely organised trading association into a monopolistic corporation upheld by the state and enjoying the most intimate relationship with it.
The merchants were already on the way to becoming a new staple. Thus the nascent monopoly over cloth trade and consequent expansion of the cloth industry were to have greater repercussions later on.
Henry, a great Financier:
Coming to the financial policy of Henery VII we see that by 1497 the king had accumulated all powers he needed and with ultimate defeat of the last armed challenge to his throne he was free to apply himself to the satisfyingly humdfum task of making his system work. More smoothly.
He could also go on making if pay ever handsomely. It has been said that, “Henery VII was incomparably the last businessman to sit upon the English throne,” Beginning his reign as it is the lot of pretenders in relation to his bankers, he pinched and scraped his way first to solvency, then to affluence and finally to wealth beyond the dreams of any avarice less superlative than his own, The greatness of Henery lay in the fact that he amassed all his wealth without cither an army or a bureaucracy and exacted unsurpassed obedience from his subjects poverty. Henery knew, was both a prominent cause and a major penalty or the penalty of the political troubles which he had set himself to surmount and if he would have his way he must pay for it, too.
Henry’s methods of making money:
Here again early years were decisive. Henery promptly put an end to the invidious evil of alienation by which royal lands and the income they represented had been passing from the crown to the subjects and replaced it by a vigorous campaign of resumption which brought them back again.
To lands thus recovered he added the wide estates of attenuated opponents and victims of his regime. The “Feudal incidents” of homage, ward ship and marriage now simply a form of land-tax ha enforced with a through ness which defied evasion and the privilege of dealing knighthood he sold to land-owner at an improved rate. The custom duties known as “tonnage and poundage” yielded.
Henery an income which grew with commercial expansion and the administration of justice and profit which grew with enhanced efficiency. The Star Chamber with its nucleus was a good money-maker and such lapse of allegiance as ‘Duon and Cornevals’ in 1947 were redeemed by crushing fines.
But Henery’s flair for bringing money in was if anything eclipsed by his skill of preventing too much of it from flowing out again He accomplished this by starting the new office of the king’s chamber to which he diverted mounting tide of new revenue and to which he appointed one of his must trusted servants as treasurer.
He also checked and signed personally almost every page of the accounts, Indeed we feel that it was the infinite capacities for taking pains which made the first of the Tudors the most informally successful of English kings and a millionaire into the bargain.
VARIOUS ECONOMIC ACTS PASSED
Other features of his economic policy were the statute of 1487 against the export of unfinished cloth and precious metals and also the financing of the foreign trade by the bills of exchange. These two acts of 1489 go against enclosure and their corollary, the act giving priority in the purchase of wool to the native cloth industry.
The act of 1495 as against that of 1497 fixed fees charged by merchant Adventurers. There were also other statutes dealing with weights and measures, prices, wages, vagabondage. It would be as easy and as erroneous to erect these measures in to a conscious and cohere programme of economic development, as to dismiss them as a miscellany of empty manifestoes indefensible in practice.
Rather these statutes are to be looked upon as the first stirrings of that young Lavin than the early Tudor state to grapple with forces which gained its strength from its own existence and success and few of the many paradoxes of the period are more penetrating than which points to Tudor political mastery, as a prime cause of Tudor economic in amplitude.
Henery wanted to be independent of Parliament:
We must note that Henery VII directed his economic policy to placing him self in such a position that he could escape the extension of the controlling powers of Parliament.
Throughout the first half of his reign he summoned Parliaments, obtained grant on the pretexts of foreign wars, but turned, the wars themselves to account by evading extensive military operations and securing cash indemnities where peace was made.
Unconstitutional Methods of Finance:
He also resorted to unconstitutional means to amass money. He exacted forced loans, revived Benevolences or forced presents and levied fine for ‘breach of obsolete statutes.
The court of Star Chamber was really a good source of fines from the nobles. His chief agents for financial extortion were Empson and Dudlley who enforced to the utmost the feudal rights of the king, and used, every means which ingenuity could devise to extort money from the people Further, Archbishop Morton devised an ingenious plan of extorting money known as Morton’s Fork.
If a man lived in good style he could well afford to give money to the king. If he lived in poor style he was told that he must have saved and there could give a part of his savings to the king.
Thus economic policy of Henery VII proved very beneficial to the king himself in particular, and the country became happy in general. In his attempt to bring economic stability to the country he avoided wars. Ha saw to it that the country was not dragged into costly wars because each war could be fought at the cost of prosperity of his subjects He was more concerned –with their economic prosperity than anything else.