York in the Time of Henry VII

Henry VII first came to York in 1486, a year after he had defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The city had enjoyed an excellent relationship with the former king and such loyalty meant that Henry VII’s representative was afraid to enterYorktwo days after the battle. One year later, however, the city spent £66 on Henry’s visit and presented him with a series of pageants and speeches along his route, all stressing his virtues and hereditary right to the throne.

Henry returned to the city in 1487 following a minor rebellion after which the King bestowed titles and gifts on some of the leading citizens of York. Henry’s troubles in York were not over; in 1489 further rebellion in York led to the murder of Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland.

York was plagued by trouble and riots for the remainder of Henry’s reign. In 1494, Henry VII told the mayor of York that if he could not keep order,

‘I must and will put in other rulers that will rule and govern the city according to my laws’.


Medieval Merchant on black backgroundDespite the troubles York remained an important trading centre throughout Henry’s reign and the dominant class in the city continued to be freemen; the craftsmen, traders and shopkeepers.

Guilds looked after the craftsmen and the many hospitals in the city at this time cared for the sick and acted as shelters for the poor, aged and needy. There were around thirty hospitals in the city by the time Henry VII came to the throne; four cared for those suffering from leprosy.

As elsewhere, during the reign of Henry VII living conditions in the city left much to be desired. The paved streets of York had open gutters running through them and the city was notoriously dirty and smelly. By the 15th and 16th centuries, public lavatories had been provided on Ouse Bridge, which, along with the main sewer known as the ‘King’s Ditch’, discharged directly into to the River Ouse.

Discover the impact the last Tudor monarch had on the city of York at the Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar.