Henry VII was the founder of England’s most famous dynasty and his son, Henry VIII, one of the most famous English kings of all time yet both shared the same crushing burden of dynastic expectation. This was a newly established dynasty, with a tenuous claim to the throne of England, and both kings would work tirelessly to build an enduring myth of legitimacy for their family. Our collective memory of the now famous, almost celebrity status, family can sometimes forget these shaky foundations.
When the 28 year old Henry Tudor landed at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire in August 1485 ready to raise support through his native Wales to take on Richard III in battle, he hadn’t set foot in his country for 14 years. Since the age of 14 he had lived in exile in France. He may have been the only Lancastrian figurehead left but his claim to the throne was so tenuous that establishing the Tudors as rightful rulers of England was a dominant theme which ran through his reign and onto that of his son’s.