At the time Henry took the throne there were certain qualities expected from a king, these qualities would typically be a King who was strong, smart, and a decisive decision maker, determined and a man of the people. To a certain extent Henry ticked the majority of those boxes.
He proved he was strong physically through his sporting achievements, he also proved he was very smart and was regarded as one of the smartest ever monarchs in Europe and the world, he also proved he was able to make decisions in difficult circumstances, so to summarise I believe Henry had the necessary qualities to be a good king however some qualities were not as developed as others and some qualities he lacked entirely.
Before Henry was King he was constantly being showered with compliments over him being an outstanding prince and that he will make a brilliant King, one of many examples of this we can see through Lord Mountjoy’s writings. He says Henry is a ‘great prince’. Another example of the monarch being spoken highly of is in the writing of a Venetian diplomat Pasqualigo, during which he not only discusses the potential Henry has as a king for example Pasqualigo describes him to be ‘a most accomplished prince’.
Pasqualigo also gives us an insight on Henry’s other qualities, we discover Henry’s ability to speak multiple languages and he has a very good sense of modern fashion. Pasqualigo also briefly talks about Henry’s good looks; he even goes as far to say the Henry would make a ‘pretty women’. These are only a few of the many shinning reports given to the young prince however it was not uncommon to have a young monarch being followed by statements declaring them to be great at such a young age. This was commonly done with new heirs mainly to show to public what to expect to see from their future King/Queen.
If we look at the position Henry was in as an heir to the throne during the time most these reports were made we can conclude that they are likely to be exaggerated and we cannot accept the qualities were told Henry possess are completely true and he may not make a good king despite his glowing reports, I believe this because Henry was brought up with his mother and his sister in Eltham Palace, surrounded by women and totally separated from his brother. As a young child Henry immersed himself in education, gathering a good understanding of arithmetic, astronomy and history his also conquered learning French and Latin.
Also while developing his music skills and his interest in sports. None of his early upbringing involved learning about what it took to be a king. This was because up until 1502 no one expected Henry to be king he was regarded as the ‘spare not the heir’. After the death of his brother he was rushed into learning what it took to be a king and was not as prepared as his brother was therefore for Lord Mountjoy to make the comments that he did shows optimism by Mountjoy to say the least. In fact historian J. J. Scarisbrick’s opinion was that Henry was ‘unseasoned and untrained in the exacting art of kingship’.
If we now take a closer look at Henry’s qualities we will be able to explore whether or not they could lead to him becoming a ‘good king’. Henry had a rich character and was admired by many for with his personality and what that meant he could offer to others, Henry was an able and active prince partaking in a lot of sporting activities such as archery, jousting and wrestling. The energy he would bring to the throne would be required as he discovered that he would need to do most the work as king himself this is because he saw that councillors were lazy.
Henry was a man of faith and this can be seen as a quality because not only did Henry believe in God but so did the majority of England therefore being a man of God Henry was able to set an example to his people, being able to influence his people was indeed a quality required of a king. Henry’s intelligence was a true quality and proved very important to him during his reign, he used his intelligence to maintain the power held by his advisors even though he surrounded himself with some very intelligent scholars for example Wolsey and More, he was still able to outsmart him in a debate.
Intelligence was not essential for a King however it proved to be only a good thing for Henry as a king it also helped him in achieving an aim of his of maintaining control over his subjects. Despite Henry’s list of good qualities he also had a number of qualities that did not help him as a king. One of these qualities was that even though he was highly intelligent he often made decisions without considering the consequences, and an example of when a consequence of his actions came back to haunt him was through his taxation of his people in order to be at war with France. This caused protests and a lot of people changing their opinion and support towards Henry.
Also Henry was desperate to achieve glory as a King and some may see that as a quality needed for a King however his aim for glory turned into an obsession, a very costly obsession and Henry undone all the hard work done by his father in helping revive the country’s treasury after the war of the roses. He used a lot of money for his war in France, a war Britain economically were not ready for, and when a young and powerful monarch wanted to take France form England Henry’s treasury was nearly empty and was not able to put up a fight to keep France.
To summarise I believe Henry had the basic and necessary qualities to be a good king and he used these qualities to be a successful king, however Henry also possessed some bad qualities that hindered his success as king however in general I believe Henry had qualities to be a good king and he showed off these qualities during his reign, despite Henry’s bad qualities he remained successful during his reign.