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The Tudors ruled England from 1485 to 1603, and oversaw some of the most dramatic and unforgettable events in our history.

The first Tudor King, Henry VII, came to the throne in 1485, after the battle of Bosworth Field, which ended the War of the Roses, and signalled the start of the Tudor Dynasty which was to rule England for the next 118 years. There were to be five Tudor monarchs, excluding Lady Jane Grey (Queen Jane I) who ruled for only nine days in 1553, with Henry VIII and Elizabeth I being the most powerful of these monarchs. Both were powerful personalities able to control their squabbling councillors, and to answer the demands of an increasingly vocal Parliament.

Henry VIII's quest to produce a legitimate heir led to a split with Rome and The Protestant Reformation. This resulted in the establishment of the Church of England under the leadership of the King as The Supreme Head. It also led to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the sale or destruction of most of the Catholic Church's property in England. Under Henry VIII, English authority was tested on the Continent, though even military victories were too costly to maintain. His son, Edward VI, was just a child when he inherited the throne, and his councillors continued to strengthen the Protestant state started by his father, but their plans were dashed when Edward died at 16 years of age. There was a failed attempt to place his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne instead of the Catholic Princess Mary. Mary became Queen to great public acclaim, and initially she was popular with all. However, her policy of religious persecution, a hated marriage to Philip of Spain, bad agricultural conditions, and a large burden of inherited debt, soon left Mary broken-hearted and disliked. She was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth, who was a religious pragmatist and passionately devoted to her country.

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Elizabeth's policy of toleration was extended to both the religious and political spheres. Above all else, she avoided extremism, often prevaricating over major decisions, and was unwilling to take any action before all diplomatic attempts failed. This in turn infuriated many of her advisors, but it also gave her country the religious and political peace it needed to thrive. Her reign was marked by the great victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, the artistic achievements of men such as Shakespeare and Bacon, and English exploration and colonization of North America. Tudor England was a time of great change. The Tudors established England as a world power by adopting a role as a peace-maker between the duelling powers of France and Spain. Their rule was generally unchallenged, and this period of stability allowed England a much-needed respite from the War of the Roses. The system of Government ran more efficiently after it had been stabilized and centralized Under Henry VII. A uniform system of justice and taxation was introduced throughout the country. And, as always in times of peace, the arts flourished. During the sixteenth century, England emerged from the medieval world. It was a time of great change, most notably it marked the end of the Catholic Church in England. There was an attendant rise in nationalism, a new spirit of confidence and patriotism swept the country. Great naval exploits began the great English seafaring tradition. With such renowned sailors as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake, Elizabethan sailors controlled the seas.

The Tudor dynasty ruled England from 1485 to 1603.
  • Henry VII (1485 to 1509)
  • Henry VIII (1509 to 1547)
  • Edward VI (1547 to 1553)
  • Jane I (1553 to 1553)
  • Mary I (1553 to 1558)
  • Elizabeth I (1558 to 1603)

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Last Edited 03/07/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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