Discuss the reasons they give for this development.

A state as defined by Braddick is “a centralized differentiated set of institutions enjoying a monopoly of the means of legitimate violence over a territorially demarcated area”[1]. So, a state is viewed as being strong and centralised, so that obstacles and crises can be overcomes. States are a durable nation, have central authority and are defined by their boundaries and laws.
This Article will be focusing on why historians describe the Tudor state as the first modern state.

Many historians describe the Tudor state as the first modern State because of the radical political and financial changes made. This increased the durability of the state as the boundaries and the centralisation’s of everything being directed from London.

Other reasons given are because of the Break away from Rome, the nobility’s power diminishing, (as the nobility could no longer challenge the state), how the nobility could reach the citizens within the region and how the government and the Crown Royal Commissioner and other royal officials could maintain the finances and keep the general running of the state intact. This led to the nobility having no private armies as instead they converted to county militias, showing the strength that they obtained and the unity that this brought under the Tudor reign. Also, evidence from the States papers, Structure of the government being standardised (which Wales brought in) and the strong and durable state (which survived for 66 years by child and female monarch) suggest the Tudor state was the first modern state.

As mentioned the break away from Rome was of great relevance of the Tudor state developing into a modern state. [2]This occurred because Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church so that he could divorce Catherine of Aragon, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. King Henry VIII intentionally did not set out to break away from the Roman Catholic Church but this still led to numerous reforms and change in legislation. This meant that King Henry VIII became the Head of the State, Head of the English Church and an absolute Monarch, leading to the secularisation of the state.

 The effects of the secularisation were that the foundations of a modern state were set, a new government was formed and the increased role of the Monarch was laid into this more centralised State. The key advantage for the King was that his increased role allowed him to have a more direct and solemn power within the realms. There was now one Church, one King and one realm which lead to strengthening the unity within the entire state. The disadvantages of this were that this was a long process and cost a substantial amount of money. However, in comparison to dissolving the monasteries and reforming the religious Churches within the Tudor domain and changing the ideology of Catholicism into the new Protestant ideology, the King essentially gained more power and these changes were much more beneficial to him so the costs were much less of a downfall than presumed.

Also, historians describe the Tudor state as the first modern state because of the redevelopment of the old Tudor Council. This was too large and inefficient, because this included the noblemen, clergy, lawyers and royal advisers.

Then, the new Privy Council was formed which consisted of fewer and selected individuals who replaced it. They were more educated and well equipped with what they needed to do. The Privy Council was the main link between the state and people and were able to practice their policies practically and theoretically. This shows how the Privy Council was different to their predecessors.

The advantage of the Privy Council was that as they were a smaller political group they could centralise their authority and anatomy which allowed them to pass more acts and laws efficiently.

However, a disadvantage of the Privy Council was that being modernised they were open to abuse. An example of this is when Edward VI came to the throne as a child, the Dukes of Northumberland and Somerset (Edward’s Uncles) were especially elected members so that they could protect and guide him. Instead, they abused the system as they acted on self-political agendas and went on relentless wars.

The Crown increased its involvement in local government so that it was largely run by the Justices of the Peace (JPs) – appointed by the Crown. Also the role of Lord Lieutenancy was created. This was usually a nobleman who maintained order in the counties and raised finances and resources to fight wars and rebellions.

The advantages of this to the nobility government were that these officials largely consisted of the gentry so they were now recruited into government work, the role was unpaid – so it was an inexpensive option, the nobility were already educated so did not require much training. There was also some common ground between the Crown and the nobility social order in the counties were necessary to protect their political and economic interests i.e. for power. Through the nobility, the government could now reach citizens in towns and villages.

The Tudors reduced the power of the old aristocracy; by 1603 half of the nobility owed their allegiance and their elevation towards the Tudor dynasty. Also, King Henry VIII included much of the nobility who would have been tied to the monarch and state.

The disadvantage was that because the gentry were not getting paid, sometimes they may not have fulfilled their duties properly or supported the government if it was not in their own interests, showing signs of an early modern state.

Another reason why the Tudor state has been described as the first modern state, is because Wales was brought into the united realms; England and Wales became one state. They became much stronger and durable, surviving for 66 years even with a child monarch King James VI and a decadent Queen Mary. Some of the changes that Wales went through under the Tudor rule were the Tudor settlements, religious reforms and the change of the classes and societies.

Wales, in 1536, was integrated into the English Parliament and had 26 Welsh representatives. This standardised the government. However, speaking Welsh in the English and Welsh Parliament was forbidden and Welsh representatives could only speak English, showing the authority of the more centralised government and its attempts at unity within the realm. [3]

Ireland was also brought into the Tudor kingdom at a later date due to the slow migration of English nobility and the long expeditions of the different counties in Ireland. To guarantee their power within the Irish realms, they performed royal marriages between the local Irish and English nobility and English nobility. This gave the Tudor state more authority. In Wales, they had Anglo and Irish lords so the Tudor dynasties already claimed some of the land in Ireland land due to the gentry. They had a county known as Pale, which was a small island off the shore of Ireland.

The monarchy also played a role in the development of the Tudor state becoming a modern state. In the final years of reign, Queen Elizabeth I devised a plan with her advisers to find a suitable candidate to her throne. Although not formally announced, King James I became the obvious successor due to his ancestry, political and religious backgrounds. This was put in place to keep stability within the regions, which later resulted in the foundation of a Modern state.

As mentioned previously, the nobility no longer had private armies instead had county militias. The Tudors used the county militia to their advantage because they were able to enforce the local laws and were able to serve the local systems of the Tudor state realm. They also had more priority for expenditure to challenge them and able to sign treaties showing their level of authority.  During the Tudor period the Monarchy changed the way armies were run and removed them from the nobility’s control, replacing them with county militias. This diminished the military power of the nobility so that they could no longer challenge the state so easily. They lost direct power that their private armies gave them and they had to swear an oath to the monarch and become elected into the parliament so that their role required them to serve the people, government and monarch.

This transition of power from the nobility to the government is another example of the Tudor Government becoming a more centralised and more powerful authority, showing more reasons as to why they were regarded as the first modern state.

The advantages of this move for the government were that both the nobility and the armies were now under more of the government’s control. Furthermore, the act of supremacy in 1534, gave the monarch special powers over the Lords and Government, showing a strong sense of centralisation of a modern Tudor state.

However, there were also disadvantages of these changes. The government were now responsible for the upkeep and expense of the army. King Henry the VIII and the gentry were bankrupting the crown treasury by going to war with France to try and keep hold of lands within the France domain even though they were losing. King Henry VIII also commissioned 55 palaces within his reign[4]. “Thomas Cromwell appointed vice-gerent compilation of the valor ecclesiasticus” This gives an indication of a government who appointed people in different departments to serve the people. This enabled more reforms and talks with the monarch directly and allowed other members of parliament supporting for laws to be passed or not. [5]

A further reason indicating the Tudor state was the first modern state lies within the weakness of the monarch. King Edward’s reign suggests a temporary crisis within the state as his ill health and weakness generated poor judgement and up rise within the Privy Council, creating political rivalry and personal agenda, within the council.[6] (Whitney R.D Jones, The Mid-Tudor Crisis, 1539-1563, 42). Also, due to the reduction of power within the nobility they were dependent on the monarch to give them power leading to a breakdown in allegiance. Also, civil and social unrest surfaced within the state due to King Edward continuing his father’s plans to place land within the nobility. This led to social and civil upset where citizens started rebelling because of the changes of law over local landowners becoming more privatized. [7]

The poor economy during 1500 also demonstrates the move towards the English trend of a First Modern State. The old system of coinage was out-dated since the Roman times and was not renewed to a modern standard; the wage assumption fell by 60%. The rise in population and inefficiency of government spending also contributed to the poor economy e.g. affluent lifestyles and long expenditure of wars. This meant government could not raise taxes, resulting in the lack of stability within the region as well as not being able to cope producing regular food production. The decreases of wages dropped considerably which could not cope with the ever-rising population. Also, rebellious acts such as the prayer book rebellion happened because Somerset changed some of the religious reformations and conservative religious demands that he had. This shows how the people rose showing why the Tudor state is seen as the first modern state.

Historians such as Whitney Jones describe the Tudor state as the first modern state because of the disorganised Government. During the reign of Edward the VI both his uncles helped to run the kingdom and had opposing views. Somerset was plight to the House of Commons, and Northumberland had his own interest towards helping the landing of the elite. Under King Edwards the VI reign, the governments expenditures were financing the wars in France and Scotland, which led to a rift of different ideologies within parliament. This is evident within modern society where different views are put across within the House of Commons supporting that the Tudor state was the first modern state.

Also, this had the effect of making the Tudor state poor, exhausted and run down. This led to a rebellion within the Tudor state realm and the exhaustion of money leading to four years of inflation. Consequently, there was the risk of starvation within the realm and this led to even more uprisings around the United Kingdom realm. [8]

In conclusion, the points discussed support why the Tudor state was the first modern state. This was due to the Tudor state being a strong and centralised state, the reformation, having a total monarch who was sovereign over everything having an early form of council of parliament, having control of the economy and the passing of many laws. It shows many historians came to the same conclusion of what makes a modern state. One key cause was because of the governments’ economical disintegration and the disorganisation of state maintenance. The government appeared to be modernising/reforming, but still recruited from the gentry and nobility, trying to ‘bend them to their will’. [9] Finally, the break away from Rome meant that King Henry the VIII had his own partial agenda; getting divorced and getting a son heir to the throne, setting all other major events to proceed within the future.





Nicholls, Mark. A History of the Modern British Isles 1529-1603. The Two Kingdoms. (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1999.)

Jones, Gwynfor. J. WALES AND THE TUDOR STATE Government, Religious Change and the Social Order 1534-1603. (Wales : Gwasg John Penry ,1989.)

Jones, D.R Whitney. THE MID-TUDOR CRISIS 1539-1563. (London and Basingstoke: THE MACMILLAN PRESS LTD,1973.)

Loach, Jennifer, Robert Tittler. The Mid-Tudor Polity c. 1540-1560. London an Basingstoke: THE MACMILLAN PRESS LTD, 1980.

Ryriw,Alec, The Age of Reformation The Tudor and Stewart realms 1485-1603.(Edinburgh Gate. Pearson Education Limited,2009.)

 Internet Sources

Younger, Neil. The Tudor State [online]. Reading: Thomson Learning EMEA Ltd, State Papers Online, 1509-1714  Available from World Wide Web: (http://gale.cengage.co.uk/images/Younger%20The%20Tudor%20State.pdf)

Davies, Jones. BBC 2012.The 1536 Act of Union [online].london :BBC ,Available From World Wide Web: (http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/themes/periods/tudors_04.shtml)

Website Team, The British Monarchy Lord-Lieutenants [online]. London: Buckingham Palace, Official Royal Post,  Available from World Wide Web:http://www.royal.gov.uk/TheRoyalHousehold/OfficialRoyalposts/LordLieutenants/LordLieutenants.aspx

[1] Braddick.j Michael, State formation in Early Modern England c.1550-1700(Cambridge:Cambridge University press,2000.)p.12

[2] Jones .D.R Whitney, The Mid-Tudor Crisis, 1539-1563,42 (London:The Macmillin Press Ltd,1973)p.2


[3] Accessed on march the 14th 2012



[5] Mark Nicholls, A HISTORY of the MODERN BRITSH ISLES 1529-1603 The Two Kingdoms, page 22

[6] Jones .D.R Whitney, The Mid-Tudor Crisis, 1539-1563,42 (London:The Macmillin Press Ltd,1973)


[7] ibid,p.119,120

[8] Jones .D.R Whitney , The Mid-Tudor Crisis, 1530-1663, 128,131

[9] Younger, Neil. The Tudor State [online]. Reading: Thomson Learning EMEA Ltd, State Papers Online, 1509-1714 . Available from World Wide Web: (http://gale.cengage.co.uk/images/Younger%20The%20Tudor%20State.pdf