The Yeomen of the King's Guard 1485-1547
The Tudor bodyguard known as the Yeomen of the Guard has been viewed generally as a ceremonial body used to add splendour to the royal court. This thesis shows that, while the Guard's ceremonial role was of special importance, the corps was of greater significance than this function would suggest. The corps was a true bodyguard, in constant attendance upon the sovereign throughout the two reigns described. One of Henry VII's first acts as king was to institute a personal bodyguard which also provided him with an impressive retinue, arrayed in richly embellished jackets of his livery and forming part of the royal affinity. Like other members of the affinity, the yeomen were appointed to crown offices in the provinces, safeguarding the king's interests, collecting his revenues and upholding the law. They reported on local situations and brought news of events at court to the provinces, thus supplying a means of communication between central and local government. The origins, foundation and constitution of the Guard are traced, as far as the absence of any foundation documents will allow. Methods of recruitment are described, together with the remuneration, rewards and other benefits received by the yeomen. The Guard's complement did not remain static and by using evidence contained in royal accounts its size has been indicated more accurately than previously known. The duties and functions of the Guard were more varied than has been supposed, both within and outside the court, and included military and naval service, at home and abroad. Some of the yeomen also formed part of a peace-keeping force in the garrison at Tournai in 1513-19. The thesis ends with a description of individuals in the Guard, showing their family and social background, private occupations and offices held, as well as their geographical spread throughout the country.