Sunday, October 10, 2004

Henry VII, CEO

It turns out that Henry VII - father of the famous "wed 'em, bed 'em, behead 'em" Henry VIII - was quite the astute king. He bridged the gap from the middle ages to the Renaissance in England, which was possibly the furthest country from its reach.

But what struck me as I read about Henry in Vol II of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples was how he really approached his kingdom as a business enterprise.

Where previous kings had based their claim to the throne on heredity - with civil war as the result - Henry was more practical. He made decisions that seemed to genuinely be in the nation's best interests; Henry realised the power of the electorate, that even Kings are ultimately elected.

He was also very shrewd - cunning, even - in appointing his 'management team'. He eschewed the traditional 'nobles' - clever politicians with long-standing interests - and hired unknowns, people who would not only bring a fresh perspective to the organisation, but would also owe him alone for their position.

I'll let Churchill take the narrative: "Henry was at first not strong enough to afford mistakes. Daily, in all his leisure, he made notes on political affairs, on matters which required attention, 'especially touching persons', whom to employ, to reward, to imprison, to outlaw, exile or execute.

"... His skill and wisdom in transmuting medieval institutions into the organs of modern rule has not been questioned. His achievement was indeed massive and durable. He built his power amid the ruins and ashes of his predecessors. He thriftily and carefully gathered what seemed in those days a vast reserve of liquid wealth. He trained a body of efficient servants. He magnified the Crown without losing the co-operation of the Commons."

I dare any modern-day CEO to try that. :)


At 8:02 pm, Blogger Borscht said...

Aye, I read this post with a wry smile on my face matey. (As opposed to somplace else).

Alas, far too often are most young recruits and uni grads nutured on 'cutting-edge' ideas and reading stuffs. T'would be hardpressed -- shiver me timbers! -- to track down one who finds within The History of the English Speaking Peoples those selfsame lessons that'd be applicable to this day and age. (Notwithstanding Simon and present company of the blog).

Aye, t'begs the following question -- why perchance *did* The Bard, for instance, make abundant use of English and Roman history as the very foundation for his spectaculars? (Lest we forget the uneducated lot stood front and centre in the, er, mosh pit, in Elisabethan England) T'was within the noble lessons of yore that base passions, aspirations, and strategies were visible and apparent. Sentiments most patricians and plebes ALIKE could respond to and understand. Savvy?

We must be informed by the past -- GREAT post Mr. Young.

Hear, hear. Your wisdom belies your namesake, Bub.


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