November 7, 2010


Chrimes, S. B., Henry VII (Yale English Monarchs (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 1999) ("This book is not to be regarded as primarily a biography . . . ." "Nor is this book intended to be a history of England during his reign. It might perhaps best be described as a study of the impact of Henry Tudor upon the government of England. It seeks to analyse and assess Henry's actions and policies as king, as the man in whom supreme executive power, and therefore ultimate responsibility, was vested." Id. at xxi. "The inherent difficulty in expounding diplomatic history lies in the fact that whereas in reality a multitude of motives, moves, and negotiations are activated more or less simultaneously, it is impossible in exposition to unravel the threads at the rate of more than one or two at a time if the exposition is to be intelligible. The selectivity necessarily imposed upon the historian of any theme inevitably results in an oversimplification and artificiality which fail to reflect the complex reality. This defect is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in diplomatic history. As in all historical studies, the historian has an advantage denied to men who made the history itself. We are in a position to know the outcome of their actions, whereas they could only guess and hope what the upshot would be." Id. at 277. "If it be true that England showed a greatness and a marked flowering of her spirit and genius in the course of the sixteenth century, such a development would have been inconceivable without the intermediation of Henry of Richmond's regime. Not for him were the vast egoisms of his son Henry nor the gloriations of his grand-daughter Elizabeth. But without his unspectacular statecraft their creative achievement would have had no roots. His steady purposefulness saved England from mediocrity. It was not the union of the Roses that mattered, symbolic enough through that was. What mattered most in the long was the spadework which the springs of national genius would not be freed. In the ultimate analysis, the quality of Henry VII was not that of a creator, but rather of a stabilizer, for lack of whom the ships of State are apt to founder. For that quality he stands out pre-emient among British monarchs. Id. at 321-322.).