Henry VII (1457-1509)

The posthumous child of Edmund Tudor, half-brother of Henry VI, Henry spent most of his early life in exile in Britanny. His appearance as a young man was recorded and copied in a book of drawings known as the Receuil d'Arras, which also includes portraits of the pretender Perkin Warbeck and Cardinal Wolsey. Following his victory over Richard III in 1485 Henry reigned uneasily over a kingdom that yearned for the return of the more glamorous Yorkist line. In 1499 he was described as 'old before his time', personally checking his household accounts in a miserly and un-kingly way. A portrait painted by Michel Sittow in 1504 emphasises these characteristics but a terracotta bust by the sculptor Torrigiano shows a nobler side. Torrigiano also fashioned the king's tomb effigy in Westminster Abbey.