fortunes and enable the King to 'live of his own', paying the costs of the

country's administration from the Crown Estates profits and freeing him

from dependence on subsidies from Parliament. Edward rebuilt St George's

Chapel at Windsor (possibly seeing it as a mausoleum for the Yorkists, as

he was buried there) and a new great hall at Eltham Palace. Edward

collected illuminated manuscripts - his is the only intact medieval royal

collection to survive (in the British Library) - and patronised the new

invention of printing. Edward died in 1483, leaving by his marriage to

Elizabeth Woodville a 12-year-old son, Edward, to succeed him.

EDWARD V (April-June 1483)

Edward V was a minor, and his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was made

Protector. Richard had been loyal throughout to his brother Edward IV

including the events of 1470-71, Edward's exile and their brother's

rebellion (the Duke of Clarence, who was executed in 1478 by drowning,

reputedly in a barrel of Malmsey wine). However, he was suspicious of the

Woodville faction, possibly believing they were the cause of Clarence's

death. In response to an attempt by Elizabeth Woodville to take power,

Richard and Edward V entered London in May, with Edward's coronation fixed

for 22 June. However, in mid-June Richard assumed the throne as Richard III

(reigned 1483-85). Edward V and his younger brother Richard were declared

illegitimate, taken to the Royal apartments at the Tower of London (then a

Royal residence) and never seen again. (Skeletons, allegedly theirs, found

there in 1674 were later buried in Westminster Abbey.)

RICHARD III (1483-1485)

Richard III usurped the throne from the young Edward V, who disappeared

with his younger brother while under their ambitious uncle's supposed

protection. On becoming king, Richard attempted genuine reconciliation

with the Yorkists by showing consideration to Lancastrians purged from

office by Edward IV, and moved Henry VI's body to St George's Chapel at

Windsor. The first laws written entirely in English were passed during his

reign. In 1484, Richard's only legitimate son Edward predeceased him.

Before becoming king, Richard had had a strong power base in the north, and

his reliance on northerners during his reign was to increase resentment in

the south. Richard concluded a truce with Scotland to reduce his

commitments in the north. Nevertheless, resentment against Richard grew. On

7 August 1485, Henry Tudor (a direct descendant through his mother Margaret

Beaufort, of John of Gaunt, one of Edward III's younger sons) landed at

Milford Haven in Wales to claim the throne. On 22 August, in a two-hour

battle at Bosworth, Henry's forces (assisted by Lord Stanley's private army

of around 7,000 which was deliberately posted so that he could join the

winning side) defeated Richard's larger army and Richard was killed. Buried

without a monument in Leicester, Richard's bones were scattered during the

English Reformation.


The five sovereigns of the Tudor dynasty are among the most well-known

figures in Royal history. Of Welsh origin, Henry VII succeeded in ending

the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York to found the

highly successful Tudor house. Henry VII, his son Henry VIII and his three

children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I ruled for 118 eventful years.

During this period, England developed into one of the leading European

colonial powers, with men such as Sir Walter Raleigh taking part in the

conquest of the New World. Nearer to home, campaigns in Ireland brought the

country under strict English control.

Culturally and socially, the Tudor period saw many changes. The Tudor

court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in

Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund

Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey. The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of

two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many

innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of

Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several

centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession.


1485 - 1603

HENRY VII = Elizabeth of York,

(1485–1509) dau. of EDWARD IV

Catherine of (1) = HENRY VIII = (2) Anne Boleyn, = (3)

Jane, dau. Margaret (1) = JAMES IV,

Aragon, dau. (1509–1547) dau. of Earl

of Sir John King of


of FERDINAND V, of Wiltshire



first King of Spain



MARY I (1547–1553)

(1558–1603) King of Scotland Lorraine,


(1513–1542) dau. of





Henry, Lord

Queen Darnley

of Scots



THE STUARTS 1603 – 1714 Anne, dau. of =




King of Denmark



Elizabeth = Frederick V, CHARLES I = Henrietta


Elector Palatine (1625– dau.



King of France

Sophia = Ernest Augustus,

Elector of Hanover



Anne Hyde,


of Orange (1685–

dau. of Earl of


deposed 1688)





(1689–1702) (1689–1694)


Joint Sovereigns

HENRY VII (1485-1509 AD)

Henry VII, son of Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort, was born in 1457.

He married Elizabeth of York in 1486, who bore him four children: Arthur,

Henry, Margaret and Mary. He died in 1509 after reigning 24 years.

Henry descended from John of Gaunt, through the latter's illicit affair

with Catherine Swynford; although he was a Lancastrian, he gained the

throne through personal battle. The Lancastrian victory at the Battle of

Bosworth in 1485 left Richard III slain in the field, York ambitions routed

and Henry proclaimed king. From the onset of his reign, Henry was

determined to bring order to England after 85 years of civil war. His

marriage to Elizabeth of York combined both the Lancaster and York factions

within the Tudor line, eliminating further discord in regards to

succession. He faced two insurrections during his reign, each centered

around "pretenders" who claimed a closer dynastic link to the Plantagenets

than Henry. Lambert Simnel posed as the Earl of Warwick, but his army was

defeated and he was eventually pardoned and forced to work in the king's

kitchen. Perkin Warbeck posed as Richard of York, Edward V's younger

brother (and co-prisoner in the Tower of London); Warbeck's support came

from the continent, and after repeated invasion attempts, Henry had him

imprisoned and executed.

Henry greatly strengthened the monarchy by employing many political

innovations to outmaneuver the nobility. The household staff rose beyond

mere servitude: Henry eschewed public appearances, therefore, staff members

were the few persons Henry saw on a regular basis. He created the Committee

of the Privy Council ,a forerunner of the modern cabinet) as an executive

advisory board; he established the Court of the Star Chamber to increase

royal involvement in civil and criminal cases; and as an alternative to a

revenue tax disbursement from Parliament, he imposed forced loans and

grants on the nobility. Henry's mistrust of the nobility derived from his

experiences in the Wars of the Roses - a majority remained dangerously

neutral until the very end. His skill at by-passing Parliament (and thus,

the will of the nobility) played a crucial role in his success at

renovating government.

Henry's political acumen was also evident in his handling of foreign

affairs. He played Spain off of France by arranging the marriage of his

eldest son, Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and

Isabella. Arthur died within months and Henry secured a papal dispensation

for Catherine to marry Arthur's brother, the future Henry VIII; this single

event had the widest-ranging effect of all Henry's actions: Henry VIII's

annulment from Catherine was the impetus for the separation of the Church

of England from the body of Roman Catholicism. The marriage of Henry's

daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland would also have later

repercussions, as the marriage connected the royal families of both England

and Scotland, leading the Stuarts to the throne after the extinction of the

Tudor dynasty. Henry encouraged trade and commerce by subsidizing ship

building and entering into lucrative trade agreements, thereby increasing

the wealth of both crown and nation.

Henry failed to appeal to the general populace: he maintained a distance

between king and subject. He brought the nobility to heel out of necessity

to transform the medieval government that he inherited into an efficient

tool for conducting royal business. Law and trade replaced feudal

obligation as the Middle Ages began evolving into the modern world. Francis

Bacon, in his history of Henry VII, described the king as such: "He was of

a high mind, and loved his own will and his own way; as one that revered

himself, and would reign indeed. Had he been a private man he would have

been termed proud: But in a wise Prince, it was but keeping of distance;

which indeed he did towards all; not admitting any near or full approach

either to his power or to his secrets. For he was governed by none."

HENRY VIII (1509-47 AD)

Henry VIII, born in 1491, was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth

of York. The significance of Henry's reign is, at times, overshadowed by

his six marriages: dispensing with these forthwith enables a deeper search

into the major themes of the reign. He married Catherine of Aragon (widow

of his brother, Arthur) in 1509, divorcing her in 1533; the union produced

one daughter, Mary. Henry married the pregnant Anne Boleyn in 1533; she

gave him another daughter, Elizabeth, but was executed for infidelity (a

treasonous charge in the king's consort) in May 1536. He married Jane

Seymour by the end of the same month, who died giving birth to Henry's lone

male heir, Edward, in October 1536. Early in 1540, Henry arranged a

marriage with Anne of Cleves, after viewing Hans Holbein's beautiful

portrait of the German princess. In person, alas, Henry found her homely

and the marriage was never consummated. In July 1540, he married the

adulterous Catherine Howard - she was executed for infidelity in March

1542. Catherine Parr became his wife in 1543, providing for the needs of

both Henry and his children until his death in 1547.

The court life initiated by his father evolved into a cornerstone of

Tudor government in the reign of Henry VIII. After his father's staunch,

stolid rule, the energetic, youthful and handsome king avoided governing in

person, much preferring to journey the countryside hunting and reviewing

his subjects. Matters of state were left in the hands of others, most

notably Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York. Cardinal Wolsey virtually ruled

England until his failure to secure the papal annulment that Henry needed

to marry Anne Boleyn in 1533. Wolsey was quite capable as Lord Chancellor,

but his own interests were served more than that of the king: as powerful

as he was, he still was subject to Henry's favor - losing Henry's

confidence proved to be his downfall. The early part of Henry's reign,

however, saw the young king invade France, defeat Scottish forces at the

Battle of Foldden Field (in which James IV of Scotland was slain), and

write a treatise denouncing Martin Luther's Reformist ideals, for which the

pope awarded Henry the title "Defender of the Faith".

The 1530's witnessed Henry's growing involvement in government, and a

series of events which greatly altered England, as well as the whole of

Western Christendom: the separation of the Church of England from Roman

Catholicism. The separation was actually a by-product of Henry's obsession

with producing a male heir; Catherine of Aragon failed to produce a male

and the need to maintain dynastic legitimacy forced Henry to seek an

annulment from the pope in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Wolsey tried

repeatedly to secure a legal annulment from Pope Clement VII, but Clement

was beholden to the Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and nephew of Catherine.

Henry summoned the Reformation Parliament in 1529, which passed 137

statutes in seven years and exercised an influence in political and

ecclesiastic affairs which was unknown to feudal parliaments. Religious

reform movements had already taken hold in England, but on a small scale:

the Lollards had been in existence since the mid-fourteenth century and the

ideas of Luther and Zwingli circulated within intellectual groups, but

continental Protestantism had yet to find favor with the English people.

The break from Rome was accomplished through law, not social outcry; Henry,

as Supreme Head of the Church of England, acknowledged this by slight

alterations in worship ritual instead of a wholesale reworking of religious

dogma. England moved into an era of "conformity of mind" with the new royal

supremacy (much akin to the absolutism of France's Louis XIV): by 1536, all

ecclesiastical and government officials were required to publicly approve

of the break with Rome and take an oath of loyalty. The king moved away

from the medieval idea of ruler as chief lawmaker and overseer of civil

behavior, to the modern idea of ruler as the ideological icon of the state.

The remainder of Henry's reign was anticlimactic. Anne Boleyn lasted only

three years before her execution; she was replaced by Jane Seymour, who

laid Henry's dynastic problems to rest with the birth of Edward VI.

Fragmented noble factions involved in the Wars of the Roses found

themselves reduced to vying for the king's favor in court. Reformist

factions won the king's confidence and vastly benefiting from Henry's

dissolution of the monasteries, as monastic lands and revenues went either

to the crown or the nobility. The royal staff continued the rise in status

that began under Henry VII, eventually to rival the power of the nobility.

Two men, in particular, were prominent figures through the latter stages of

Henry's reign: Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. Cromwell, an efficient

administrator, succeeded Wolsey as Lord Chancellor, creating new

governmental departments for the varying types of revenue and establishing

parish priest's duty of recording births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.

Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, dealt with and guided changes in

ecclesiastical policy and oversaw the dissolution of the monasteries.

Henry VIII built upon the innovations instituted by his father. The break

with Rome, coupled with an increase in governmental bureaucracy, led to the

royal supremacy that would last until the execution of Charles I and the

establishment of the Commonwealth one hundred years after Henry's death.

Henry was beloved by his subjects, facing only one major insurrection, the

Pilgrimage of Grace, enacted by the northernmost counties in retaliation to

the break with Rome and the poor economic state of the region. History

remembers Henry in much the same way as Piero Pasqualigo, a Venetian

ambassador: "... he is in every respect a most accomplished prince."

EDWARD VI (1547-1553 AD)

Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, was born in 1537. He

ascended the throne at age nine, upon the death of his father. He was

betrothed to his cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, but deteriorating English-

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