Professor Steven Gunn

Henry VII's New Men and the Making of Tudor England (OUP Oxford, August 2016).

Henry VII's New Men

The reign of Henry VII is important but mysterious. He ended the Wars of the Roses and laid the foundations for the strong governments of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Yet his style of rule was unconventional and at times oppressive. At the heart of his regime stood his new men, low-born ministers with legal, financial, political, and military skills who enforced the king's will and in the process built their own careers and their families' fortunes. Some are well known, like Sir Edward Poynings, governor of Ireland, or Empson and Dudley, executed to buy popularity for the young Henry VIII. Others are less famous. Sir Robert Southwell was the king's chief auditor, Sir Andrew Windsor the keeper of the king's wardrobe, Sir Thomas Lovell, the Chancellor of the Exchequer so trusted by Henry that he was allowed to employ the former Yorkist pretender Lambert Simnel as his household falconer. Some paved the way to glory for their relatives. Sir Thomas Brandon, master of the horse, was the uncle of Henry VIII's favourite Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Sir Henry Wyatt, keeper of the jewel house, was father to the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt. This volume, based on extensive archival research, presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of the new men. It analyses the offices and relationships through which they exercised power and the ways they gained their wealth and spent it to sustain their new-found status. It establishes their importance in the operation of Henry's government and, as their careers continued under his son, in the making of Tudor England.

  • Everyday life and accidental death in sixteenth-century England
  • The English people at war in the age of Henry VIII
  • Aristocratic power and the Northern Renaissance

My current research falls into four areas. I am completing Henry VII's New Men and the Making of Tudor England for publication in 2016. This is a study of the lowly-born lawyers, courtiers and financial officials who played a distinctive role in Henry VII's assertive government and in the transition to the reign of Henry VIII. I am Principal Investigator of a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on 'Everyday life and fatal hazard in sixteenth-century England'. This is analysing some 9,000 coroners' inquests into accidental deaths to see what they tell us about everyday life, work, travel and leisure in Tudor times. I am Co-Investigator in a project funded by the AHRC Science and Heritage programme on 'Representing Re-Formation: Reconstructing Renaissance Monuments'. This project, based primarily in the Art History Department at Leicester University, is reassessing the tombs of the sixteenth-century Howard dukes of Norfolk at Framlingham in Suffolk. My longer-term research on war and society in the England of Henry VIII was presented in the James Ford lectures in British history on 'The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII' in Hilary term 2015 and I am now revising the lectures for publication.

More information on tudor accidents can be found here: 

  • The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII

  • Henry VII's henchmen

  • Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England

  • Sport and recreation in sixteenth-century England: the evidence of accidental deaths

  • The Tudors and the Howards

  • The perils of piety in Tudor England

  • Kings, Nobles and Military Networks

  • Deadly beasts of Tudor England

  • Introduction

  • Henry VIII: The View from 2009

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Mark Geldof
  • Tom Boyd

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding later medieval and early modern British and European history or any potential Masters students looking into the same period

I currently teach:


FHS Masters

History of the British Isles III, 1330-1550

History of the British Isles III, 1330-1550 State and Society in Early Modern Europe (part of the Mst / MPhil Modern British and European History)
History of the British Isles IV, 1500-1700 History of the British Isles IV, 1500-1700  
General History III, 1400-1650

General History VII, 1409-1525

Optional Subject: English Chivalry and the French War, c. 1330-c. 1400 General History VIII, 1517-1618  
Paper IV: Approaches to History Further Subject: The Wars of the Roses, 1450-1500   
  Special Subject: Government, Politics and Society in England, 1547-1558  
  Disciplines of History  

Podcast on Henry VII:

Podcast on accidental death:

Podcast on accidental life project using Ashmolean objects: 

Ford lectures 2015: 

List of site pages