House of Tudor

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This important emblem symbolized the end of the War of the Roses and the rise of the Tudor Dynasty
The House of Tudor was an English ruling dynasty with welsh origin. The House came to power at the end of The War of the Roses and lasted through five Tudor monarchs before being succeeded by the House of Stuart. The monarchs included


Family Tree

The Tudor Family Tree. Interactive Version:

Henry VII and the Tudor Rise to Power

Henry VII

The Tudor Dynasty became the ruling dynasty of England through the conclusion of the War of the Roses, and the establishment of Henry VII as kind of England. The War of the Roses was a series of civil wars in England lasting from 1455-1487 between the Houses of Lancaster and York. This war was caused through descendant claims from both houses to Edward III, unpopular rulers of the current king Henry VI, his sickness, and civil unrest among the populace. With the House of York in rule after the death of Henry VI and Henry VII the proclaimed Lancastrian heir, he forged an alliance with discontented Yorkists to defeat the unpopular King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. He ended the War of the Roses and presented England a new dynasty of both rival house decent[1].

Henry had a very loose claim to the crown, and became king only because of his defeat of Richard III and the ‘right of conquest’. [2]. Henry cemented his claim to the throne by marrying Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV from the House of York. The Tudor rose symbolized this union by joining the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York[3]. This symbol is still used in England today.

Because of his weak legitimacy to his claim to the throne, Henry had to work harder to create the aura of royal authority and diminish the power of the nobles. He created laws to forbid nobles from retaining armies and had the gunpowder to crush those who resisted. He also benefited from the War of Roses in this respect because many had been killed in conflict, leaving Henry to claim their lands and revenue. Under the Tudors, English nobility started to rapidly fall from influence to the degree that under Elizabeth I, England had only one duke that was executed for treason. He also cemented his claim to the throne through carefully arranged marriages, especially his eldest son to the daughter of the powerful Ferdinand and Isabella. Henry also took great lengths to establish his new dynasty and managed to creatively raise the funds necessary to establish it and secure it[4].

Henry VIII

Henry VIII

Henry VIII was crowned and married to Catharine of Aragon in 1509. Soon after his ascension to the throne he joined Ferdinand II in battle against the French in 1512, and won victory against a Scottish invasion in 1513. Henry finally found peace with France after several unsuccessful campaigns in 1520 and focused home, increasing the navy among addressing other rising issues.

Henry is most famous for the latter half of his reign that saw the succession from the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation which would lead to the founding of the Church of England by Elizabeth I.

Catherine had given birth to Mary I in 1516, but Henry was desperate for a son since the Tudor dynasty was young and risked foreign dominance through marriage to his daughter. Henry had also fallen for Anne Boleyn and wanted the Pope to grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine, who gave him a license to marry her in the first place. The matter was taken to parliament and the result was many Acts that cut the power of the papacy influence in England. This brought about the English Reformation. When Cranmer was promoted to Archbishop of Canterbury in 1532, he quickly declared Henry's marriage invalid and Henry crowned Anne queen a week later. The pope then excommunicated Henry who pushed parliamentary acts to be passed that officially broke from the Roman Catholic Church. Henry was established as ‘the only supreme head of the Church of England through the Act of Supremacy in 1534. Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn was on rocky ground at this point. Anne had produced another daughter, Elizabeth, but failed to produce a male heir. Anne was quickly executed under charges of treason in 1536 and was quickly replaced by Jane Seymour. Jane gave Henry a son, Edward VI, but died only 12 days after his birth. Henry also married Anne of Cleaves briefly, Katherine Howard, who was executed on charges of adultery in 1542, and Catherine Parr, who outlived Henry. Neither had any children and Henry's sole son, Edward VI, was cautiously raised to be sole successor. Henry was also careful to raise Edward protestant to establish his split with the catholic church in the future. [5]. Henry died in 1547, leaving his young son Edward VI the throne.

Edward VI

Edward VI

King Edward VI was the only legitimate son of Henry VIII from his third wife, Jane Seymour. Edward claimed the throne when he was 10 years old, and a regency was set up to run the government. Edward Seymour acted as regent until he was overthrown by John Dudley in 1549. Although is reign was troubled from his young age and the nobles abuse of his regency, he still helped consolidate the English Reformation and concrete more Protestant values into the church of England. When Edward became sick with Tuberculosis, he had a devise wrote for the succession of Lady Jane Dudley, a protestant supporter and his cousin, to the throne. When Edward VI died in 1553, Jane succeeded. However Jane never wanted to rule and popular support was for a proper Tudor heir. Jane was disposed in 9 days and was later executed by Mary in 1554[6].

Mary I

Mary I

Although the protestant councilors and English people were not found of Mary’s strong Catholic faith, she did hold the parentage of the Tudors and therefore succeed Edward VI[4]. Mary I was weary of her protestant sister, Elizabeth and wanted to have a catholic successor. Mary I married Philip of Spain in 1554, much to the dismay of the common people who did not trust a foreign monarch. There was a small rebellion against her known as Wyatt's rebellion, which she used as an attempt to implicate Elizabeth in, but ultimately failed.

Mary became determined to restore England to Catholicism, and restored the Catholic creed and medieval heresy laws that allowed heretics to be killed and their property given to the crown. From 1555-1558, Mary planned to deter protestantism by burning around 275 protestant heretics, but only managed to increase their hatred of their queen, already fueled from her marriage to Phillip. Mary gained the infamous title of ‘Bloody Mary’ from this time[2]. Although Mary had thought herself pregnant several times, no heir was ever produced and Mary was forced to accept her protestant sister Elizabeth as successor to the throne.

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I’s rule marked the high point of the English renaissance which brought the country to prosperity.

Elizabeth carried out policies that helped develop and protect England's industries, most notably coal production, and fostered high expansion. The ship building industry was bolstered through new laws and more industries were encouraged to rise in England when they had traditionally been imports. Elizabeth's reign saw the literacy level reach one of the highest in the world at the time and it's development was heightened by the works of Shakespeare and the King James version of the Bible[7].

Elizabeth was devoted to keeping the protestant church of England established in 1559, although she gave the ability to be Protestant or Catholic She officially established the Church of England and claimed herself Supreme Governor.

Elizabeth I’s rule marked the high point of the English renaissance which brought the country to prosperity. Elizabeth established The Poor Laws to help the people of England from a charitable view. These laws helped the young and sick and the deserving unemployed and could be a sign of the development of the welfare state.

Although Elizabeth had many suitors, she refused to marry. She did not want her claim to the throne to be challenged, and she knew a king would usurp her ruling authorities. Because of her strict following of this principle, she is known as “The Virgin Queen”. Many English thought Mary, Queen of Scots had more legitimate claim to throne and should be queen. Elizabeth knew should be would a major threat to her crown, and when a plot serious enough mentioned Mary, she had her executed in 1587. Just a year later Elizabeth was faced with a Spanish naval fleet 19,000 strong sailing toward her country called the Spanish Armada. In 1588 the fleet sailed to English waters, but faced bad luck and was defeated by the English navy. This crowning achievement is often referred as Elizabeth's final hour[8].

End of the Tudor Dynasty

Since Elizabeth was never married and had no heir to succeed, she had the question of who to pick to succeed her for the throne. Elizabeth never directly named a heir, although there are strong controversies over her secret dealings and negotiations to allow James I to succeed. Never the less, James I of Scotland became King of England, uniting Scotland and England and ending the Tudor Dynasty's reign with the installation of the House of Stuart.


  1. War of the Roses, History of.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tudor History, Henry VII.
  3. House of Tudor
  4. 4.0 4.1 English History, Henry VII.
  5. The British Monarchy, History of the Monarchy: Henry VIII.
  6. Brittanica, Edward VI.
  7. Shakespeare's England, Shakespeare & Elizabeth.
  8. English Monarchs, Tudor.


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"Henry VIII". Elizabethan Portraits. Image. Web. 16 March 2012.

“Henry VIII” The British Monarchy. 2009. Web. 16 March 2012

“House of Tudor“. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 16 March 2012.

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"Mary I". English History. Image. Web. 16 March 2012.

Trout, Robert. "Henry VII and the Creation of Shakespeare’s England". Shakespeare’s England. Web. 16 March 2012.

"Tudor Rose". Wikipedia Commons. Image. Web. 16 March 2012.

“War of the Roses”. War of the Roses. 2010. Web. 16 March 2012

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