After his father’s death on April 21st 1509, Henry VIII inherited the throne of England and Wales, but wasn’t acknowledged until 2 days later, on the 24th April 1509. His father had brought well needed peace to the country for the past 23 years, ad Henry wasn’t about to let that change. However, his father was extremely unpopular by the people of the country, in particular the rich who he had full raped of their cash. Long gone were the days where nobles were flush and wealth, Henry VII had ensured that. He had inherited a country in debt and so to counter this has decided it pointless to increase taxes on the poor, rather it better to take it from the wealthy who could afford it, and had more than likely been milking the system for years. My kind of man I have to say.
Obviously this had rendered him very unpopular with the nobles; if they were seen to be flashing the cash Henry would take it for the royal treasury, if they were seen to be struggling financially, he assumed they were hiding their cash, and tax them harder.
Henry VII would not have been so successful at pissing off the rich nobles if it hadn’t have been for his ‘Council Learned in Law’, a dodgy government body set up by two of his right-hand men, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. Empson was born around 1450 and Dudley around 1462, both had earned the trust and respect of the king and shot to power quickly. Empson had gained popularity under Yorkist rule, but most of Henry’s council had, keep your enemies close and all that.
Henry VIII basically made the men his chief tax collectors. The two penny pinching Scrooge’s made it their business to go around and collect debt from the rich and give them to the king, (an interesting sort of love child hybrid between Robin Hood and The Sherriff of Nottingham if you will). These men were seriously good at their job. The nobles could not stand the money grabbing little shits, and Empson and Dudley gave NO FUCKS about this whatsoever.
All was going well, the rich were being royally fucked over and the treasury was growing nicely, until Henry VII died on 21st April. On 24th April, 1509 it was announced that the King was dead and the throne would pass to the new King, Henry VIII. The new young King was the polar opposite of his father. He had grown up being ‘the spare to the heir’, so to speak. Prior to his older brother, Arthur’s, death Henry had led the fun filled life expected of a young, rich, carefree prince. He was a complete attention seeking gobshite, and enjoyed nothing more than basking in the lime light and being loved arse licked adoring fans, (to be fair, not much changed after Arthur’s death, he still liked to be the centre of attention then). The problem he now faced however, was that the nobles were so glad to be rid of the Miser, Henry VII, which it was apparent that they didn’t want to risk another king bringing down financial hardship on them, and enforcing the same exploitative taxation laws on their pockets.
Henry basically shat himself: If the people didn’t trust him how could they love him and if the people didn’t love him, what would happen to his massive ego? He had to take action to distinguish himself from his father, and fast. His first order of business was to arrest Dudley and Empson and show his new subjects that the frugal reign of his father was well and truly over. The two men were arrested on Henrys first day at work and sent to the tower on trumped up charges of treason.
The actual charge brought against the men was ‘constructive treason’. Henry had decided that the men had called their pals to rally arms encase the king died, that and they had been dipping their own hands into the kings penny jar. Actually, the real reason they were arrested was to show to the public that Henry VIII was going to be a fun and generous king, who supported the plight of the rich, and would end the totally wank reign of his stingy as balls father. A popularity vote for the new party king if you like.
The men were sent to the tower and left there. Dudley planned an escape, but it looked like they would be exonerated. They were not. Dudley even wrote an arse kissing book called ‘The Tree of Commonwealth’ in which he yaks on about how great the new monarch is, and how the commonwealth is a massive tree built on godliness, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, it didn’t work. Henry basically was having too much fun in his new job, and when he remembered they were there decided to set an example. On 17th August, 1510, the men were sent to Tower Hill and executed.
Oh, and FYI…
You may recognise the name Dudley. Edmund Dudley was the father of John Dudley, who became the 1st Duke of Northumberland under Edward VI reign. He too was executed at Tower Hill 43 years later after conspiring to usurp Henrys VIII’s daughter, Mary Tudor, and placing Jane Grey and his son Guilford on the throne. John Dudley was also the father of Robert Dudley, Elizabeth I’s ‘favourite’, (and by ‘favourite’ I mean the bloke that made her basement flood, wink, wink). It was all very complex at Tudor court, but one thing is certain, there was no room for grudges against the monarch’s.