Power and Politics of Architecture in Tudor England


The political significance of Tudor houses comes from that fact that they were power houses. The men who were building theses houses either possessed power or endeavored to raise their stature at court. According to Mark Girouard, “The Tudor royal palace was a theatre of kingship”[1] and building by Kings was used to evoke the presence of power and magnificence in those visiting so as to enhance the image of the monarch. In other words, this construction and the architecture of the time were simply weapons in the fight for being as powerful as possible. As discussed previously, the Tudor period was a period of “new men” including Henry VII. That may be what started the craze of building new magnificent homes. Wealth and power generally went hand in hand during this time. If one could show of his wealth, generally through his home, then he could also convince people that he was powerful. The same worked vice versa, a powerful man would need to build a large home to convince people that he was wealthy.

This may be why we see Henry VII starting off the abundance of construction during his reign. His need to assert his power would be shown through the many new residences he would acquire and improve or build new; power and politics were shown through Tudor architecture with the emphasis on privacy, size and opulence, and the display of patronage through the use of heraldry. Under Henry VIII, privacy became more and more of a luxury. Palaces had been characterized by their lack of privacy and communal nature. As a result of this move away from the communal nature of court, the significance of the great hall began to decline in terms of functionality. With Henry VII’s construction of Richmond Palace, there began a move towards more intimate private chambers. The was a widespread uptick in manor home construction during the Tudor period. The construction of these prodigy houses and palaces was as much about cementing one’s own power, as it was cementing one's family legacy. This was the case for the Tudors, as none of the monarchs after Henry VIII undertook any major construction projects because they were already well supplied with those from Henry VIII. 

[1] Girouard, Henry VIII, King of Builders

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