| 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 divdeceased 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 Scotland
of FERDINAND V, of Wiltshire Seymour (1488–1513)
first King of Spain
ELIZABETH I EDWARD VI JAMES V, = Mary of
MARY I (1547–1553) (1558–1603) King of Scotland Lorraine,
(1553–1558) (1513–1542) dau. of Duke
MARY, = Henry, Lord
THE STUARTS 1603 – 1714 Anne, dau. of = JAMES VI OF SCOTLAND
FREDERICK II, AND I OF ENGLAND
King of Denmark (1567–1625)
Elizabeth = Frederick V, CHARLES I = Henrietta Maria,
Elector Palatine (1625– dau. of HENRY IV,
ex.1649) King of France
Sophia = Ernest Augustus,
Elector of Hanover
CHARLES II Mary = WILLIAM II JAMES II = Anne Hyde,
(1649–1685) of Orange (1685– dau. of Earl of
GEORGE I deposed 1688) Clarendon
WILLIAM III = MARY II ANNE
(1689–1702) (1689–1694) (1702–1714)
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 "divtenders" 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 divgnant 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 divferring 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 Sudivme 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 sudivmacy (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 sudivmacy 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."