Published on June 17th, 2015 | by Sarah Jubb
The Birth Of The Tudors
The fall of the Platagenet’s dynasty and the end of the War of the Roses in our previous article allowed for the rise of the Tudor family. This infamous family produced some of the most famous kings and queens in British history while in power.
King Henry VII
King Henry VII already had a claim to the throne from his mother’s side, through which he was descended from Edward III. He ascended to King of England having defeating his enemy, King Richard III, in battle at Bosworth Field and ending the War of the Roses finally in 1485.
He further cemented his claim to the throne by marrying Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV, thus joining the Houses of York and Lancaster together after years of deadly battle. Despite this, his reign was still full of plenty of trouble with revolts, plots and conspiracies.
Henry VII used his position to arrange treaties with his neighbouring countries including France and the Netherlands that helped the English economy. He also made sure that his dynasty would give England the best political stability possible by marrying his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland to bring some peace to the two countries.
He also arranged for the marriage of his eldest son, Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess to gain an alliance with Spain. The sudden death of Arthur in 1502 left the younger brother Henry as the new heir to the throne and there were suggestions to marry Catherine to Henry instead.
The death of his wife, Elizabeth, was said to have affected him very badly after she died in childbirth in 1503. Henry VII himself died in 1509 of tuberculosis and was buried next to Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey, leaving his son to succeed him.
King Henry VIII
In 1509 Henry VII’s son took the throne and became King Henry VIII, possibly the most infamous king in British history for two important reasons, his marriages and the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.
His first marriage was to Catherine of Aragon, his brothers widow whom he married in 1509. Catherine suffered miscarriages and still births before finally giving birth to Mary in 1516, the future Mary I of England. Henry VIII engaged in numerous affairs with various women and he eventually wanted an annulment from his wife to marry Anne Boleyn.
Despite Henry being devoutly Catholic, to the degree that he was given the title of Defender of the Faith in 1521, he requested an annulment of the marriage from the Pope. This was due to him wanting a male heir and Catherine being unable to give him one, but the Pope refused his request. As a result of this, Henry VIII split with the Catholic Church, resulting in the English Reformation and married Anne Boleyn.
Anne gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, and Henry ensured that any opposition to his religious ideas were quickly suppressed. An accident involving the King resulted in Anne miscarrying a male child and saw the eventual downfall of her place, resulting in her execution in 1536. This paved the way for Henry to marry Jane Seymour, one of Anne’s ladies in waiting.
This marriage to Jane saw Henry finally gain the son he had always wanted with the birth of Edward, though Jane herself died shortly after giving birth. His next marriage to Anne of Cleves only lasted months before being annulled and he soon married Catherine Howard in 1540. Once again though, Henry’s wife met an untimely demise after being found guilty of an affair with Francis Dereham and Thomas Culpeper, resulting in her being beheaded in 1542.
King Henry VIII’s final marriage was to Catherine Parr in 1543, who helped bring him and his daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, back together. As a result, an Act of Parliament saw his daughters being brought back into the line of successions after their brother, Edward.
King Edward VI
Henry VIII’s death in 1547 saw his only legitimate, young son Edward inheriting the crown at just nine years old, resulting in a regency council. He only ruled for 6 years until 1553 and he was the first monarch to be raised Protestant and not Catholic.
Edward was ruled by a regency council that was led by Edward Seymour and the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. Edward was devout with his protestant beliefs and supported their idea of turning England into a Protestant state.
This was enforced with the Act of Uniformity in 1549 that established the Book of Common Prayer. The Reformation advanced further and saw a second Act of Uniformity established in 1552 with a revised version of the book that remains the basis of the Church of England services.
By 1553 though, King Edward VI had fallen ill and a succession crisis occurred as his heir would be his half sister Mary, a Catholic. As a result, Edward drafted a document that saw his cousin, Lady Jane Grey being made heir. He eventually succumbed to his illness and died in 1553.
Lady Jane Grey
As such, Lady Jane Grey acceded to the throne on 10 July 1553.Unfortunately though, Mary Tudor, Edward’s half sister, was eager to take the throne even though she had been declared illegitimate. Despite any support gained for making Jane queen, support for Mary had become popular and her own father supported the cause to get Mary on the throne.
He persuaded Jane to relinquish the throne and she was imprisoned in the Tower of London with her husband and her father. She was sentenced to death but was originally pardoned until the Protestant rebellion by Thomas Wyatt the Younger, which was supported by Jane’s father. As a result of this, Jane, her father and her husband were all executed in 1554.