But all would not be official until this day - when Henry Tudor would officially become King Henry VII and a new era of the English monarchy would formally begin. We can look at this day as the first real day of the Tudor dynasty. The old king is dead; God save King Henry! The Plantagenets are gone and the Tudors have risen to power!
Henry, who had spent the majority of his life in Wales under the guardianship of his uncle Jasper Tudor, needed to prove himself to his new subjects at this coronation. He made sure no expense was spared - he would dazzle the spectators and foreigners, come to witness this momentous event. This was the day Henry had dreamt of, and that his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort had plotted and encouraged for. The day had to be impressive!
The result did not disappoint. The coronation events began on 27 October when Henry dined at Lambeth Palace with the Archbishop of Canterbury - the man who had crowned King Richard III and King Edward IV before him. They processed to the Tower of London, the traditional overnight stay for soon-to-be-crowned monarchs. The following day was spent ennobling Henry's councillors and favorites - and of course we are not at all surprised to see that Jasper Tudor was named Duke of Bedford, and the Yorkist-turned-Lancastrian Thomas Stanley became Earl of Derby. Henry also fondly referred to Stanley as his "right dearly beloved father" …a fitting show of affection, considering Stanley played such a significant role in helping Henry gain the crown. In addition to these two notable titles, Knights of the Bath were created and another earldom was gifted to Edward Courtenay for his valuable support.
Finally, we arrive at the festivities of this day - the 30th of October. This was the big day, led up to by impressive pageants, processions and the gifting of new titles. Archbishop Thomas Bourchier led the ceremony at Westminster Abbey while Thomas Kempe celebrated the Mass. Thomas Stanley, now the Earl of Derby, was granted the honor of carrying the sword of state, while John de Vere carried the king's impressive train. It should come as no surprise that the ultimate honor of bearing Henry's crown was awarded to Jasper Tudor, the faithful uncle who had protected and fought for Henry throughout his life. This was, no doubt, the proudest moment for him - to see his work come to fruition. Likewise, I can't think of anyone Henry would have preferred for the honor.
The Archbishop announced to the audience, "I here present Henry, true and rightful, and undoubted interior of the laws of God and man, to the crown and royal dignity of England, with all things thereunto annexed and appertaining, elect, chosen, and required by all three estates of the same land, to take upon him the said crown and royal dignity." He then addressed Henry, asking him if he would keep to the laws of the realm as bestowed by the previous rightful and devout kings, as well as the liberties and customs as granted by his noble predecessor and glorious king Saint Edward. To this, Henry replied, "I grant and promise."
With all of this excitement, Henry surely earned his sumptuous coronation banquet at the Tower of London, where he processed immediately following the solemn Mass. He was met with cheers of applause and awe - delighted subjects who were ecstatic to witness their new radiant ruler. At the banquet, the Red Dragon of Wales was a consistent theme - another sign that, although Henry was now the formal ruler of England, he would not forget or deny his Welsh roots. Festivities ensued and a jousting tournament was held, all to the sheer excitement and pleasure of those in attendance.
And through it all, the radiant new King Henry Tudor, who had hidden, plotted, and fought valiantly for his crown, sat triumphant and surrounded by those who were loyal to him. No one at that moment could deny that he had won his throne fairly, and that he was, without a shred of doubt or protest, the rightful King Henry VII of England.
God Save the King! God Save the King! Long Live King Henry!