Henry grew up to re­sem­ble his royal name­sake in sev­eral ways

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In for­eign af­fairs, Henry’s Court acted as a kind of shadow gov­ern­ment. Al­though rarely per­mit­ted by his se­cu­rity-ob­sessed fa­ther to ven­ture far be­yond his palace, the young Prince spon­sored ex­pe­di­tions to the new World, pa­tro­n­ised nav­i­ga­tors, sci­en­tists and Con­ti­nen­tal artists and, with the Grand Tour just de­vel­op­ing, utilised young english trav­ellers as go-be­tweens with euro­pean lead­ers.

He turned fre­quently to Sir Wal­ter Raleigh, a pris­oner in the Tower, for ad­vice. On the ques­tion of his mar­riage, he came into open con­flict with James, whose pri­or­ity was to ob­tain a hand­some dowry to re­plen­ish his cof­fers, re­gard­less of the bride’s faith. ‘Why,’ Henry in­structed his comptroller Sir John Holles to write, ‘should the heir of eng­land be sold?’ At the time of his death, the coun­try was en­tan­gled in par­al­lel ne­go­ti­a­tions with sev­eral Courts over the mat­ter.

The au­thor is too se­ri­ous a scholar to spec­u­late about what kind of king Henry would have been had he lived to as­sume the throne in­stead of his brother, Charles. In­deed, he emerges from this ex­cel­lent book as some­one so en­cum­bered with the hopes of oth­ers that he may have had no idea him­self what type of ruler he wished to be.

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