When Henry VII defeated Richard III on the battlefield of Bosworth, and, according to legend, found the crown of England beneath a hedge, he started a dynasty that saw the blinkered Middle Ages transformed into an age of enlightenment. Indeed, the reign of Elizabeth I was a ‘Golden Age’: the age of Shakespeare, exploration and elegance.
Tudor is a name of the dynasty that occupied the throne of England from 1485 to 1603. The house was founded by the Welsh nobleman Owen Tudor, who married Catherine of Valois, the widow of the English king Henry V. ‘
Their eldest son, Edmund Tudor, married Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of John of Gaunt, son of King Edward III.
In 1485 Edmund and Margaret's son, Henry, killed Richard III of the house of York and became Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch.
The successive Tudor sovereigns were Henry VIII and his son and two daughters, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I; the three died childless.
The Tudors reunited the country after a period of civil strife and made the English church independent of the pope. They were followed in royal succession by the Stuart family.
Henry VII’s ascendancy to the throne of England in 1485 and his marriage to Elizabeth of York a year later marked the end of the Wars of the Roses, which had pitted the Yorks against Henry’s family, the Lancasters. This anonymous 16th-century portrait of Henry VII is at the Royal Society of Arts in London.
Hans Holbein’s famous portrait of Henry VIII shows the Tudor king as the quintessential Renaissance sovereign. Henry prided himself on his education and his patronage of humanist scholars such as Sir Thomas More, but his increasingly despotic behavior left a more enduring image. He is most famous for founding the Church of England and for having six wives, two of whom he had beheaded.
From 1553, under the reign of Henry's Roman Catholic daughter, Mary I , the Reformation legislation was repealed and Mary sought to achieve the reunion with Rome.
Her first Act of Parliament was to retroactively validate Henry's marriage to her mother and so legitimise her claim to the throne.
Achieving her objective was however, not straightforward. The Pope was only prepared to accept reunion when church property disputes had been settled, which, in practice, meant allowing those who had bought former church property to keep it.
'Only when English landowners had secured their claims did Julius III's representative arrive in November 1554 to reconcile the realm'
Thus did Cardinal Pole arrive to become Archbishop of Canterbury in Cranmer's place. Mary could have had Cranmer, imprisoned as he was, tried and executed for treason - he had supported the claims of Lady Jane Grey - but she had resolved to have him tried for heresy. His recantations of his Protestantism would have been a major coup for her. Unhappily for her, he unexpectedly withdrew his recantations at the last minute as he was to be burned at the stake, thus ruining her government's propaganda victory.