Tudor dynasty

Tudor dynasty

Royal house
surname = Tudor
estate = England
coat of arms =
country = Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Ireland, Kingdom of France
parent house = Lancaster "and" York
titles = Duke of Richmond, Honour of Richmond
founder = Henry Tudor "and" Elizabeth Plantagenet
final ruler = Elizabeth I of England
current head = House Extinct
founding year = 1485
dissolution = 1603
nationality = Welsh, English
cadet branches = N/A

The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was an English royal dynasty that lasted 118 years, from 1485 to 1603, a period known as the Tudor period. Descended patrilineally from Welsh courtier Owen Tudor, and with a disputed claim on the English throne through the maternal line, the Tudors nevertheless emerged from the Wars of the Roses as England's rulers.

Ascent to the throne

The Tudors descended matrilineally from John Beaufort, one of the illegitimate children of 14th Century English Prince John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (third surviving son of Edward III of England), by Gaunt's long-term mistress Katherine Swynford. The descendants of an illegitimate child of English Royalty would normally have no claim on the throne, but the situation was complicated when Gaunt and Swynford eventually married in 1396 (25 years after John Beaufort's birth). In view of the marriage, the church retroactively declared the Beauforts legitimate via a papal bull the same year (also enshrined in an Act of Parliament in 1397). A subsequent proclamation by John of Gaunt's legitimate son, King Henry IV, also recognised the Beaufort's legitimacy, but declared them ineligible to ever inherit the throne. Nevertherless, the Beauforts remained closely allied with Gaunt's other descendants, the Royal House of Lancaster.

John Beaufort's granddaughter Lady Margaret Beaufort, a considerable heiress, was married to Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond. Tudor was the son of Welsh courtier Owain Tewdr (anglicised to "Owen Tudor") and Katherine of Valois, widowed Queen Consort of the Lancastrian King Henry V. Edmund Tudor and his siblings were either illegitimate, or the product of a secret marriage, and owed their fortunes to the goodwill of their legitimate half-brother King Henry VI. When the House of Lancaster fell from power, the Tudors followed.

Edmund's son Henry Tudor grew up in exile in Brittany, while his mother Lady Margaret remained in England and remarried, quietly advancing the cause of her son in a Kingdom now ruled by the rival House of York. With most of the House of Lancaster now dead, Henry proclaimed himself the Lancastrian heir. Capitalising on the unpopularity of King Richard III, his mother was able to forge an alliance with discontented Yorkists in support of her son, who landed in England and defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, proclaiming himself King Henry VII. By marrying Richard III's niece, Elizabeth of York, Henry VII successfully bolstered his own disputed claim to the throne, whilst moving to end the Wars of the Roses by presenting England with a new dynasty, of both Lancastrian and Yorkist descent. The new dynasty was symbolised by the "Tudor Rose", a fusion of the White Rose symbol of the House of York, and the Red Rose of the House of Lancaster.

Henry VII and

The new King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon; the two wed on June 11 1509, and crowned at Westminster Abbey on June 24 the same year. However, Catherine did not bear Henry the sons he was desperate for; Catherine's first child, a daughter, was stillborn, and her second child, a son named Henry, Duke of Cornwall, died 52 days after the birth. A further set of stillborn children were conceived, until a daughter Mary was born in 1516. When it became clear to Henry that the Tudor dynasty was at risk, he consulted his chief minister Thomas Cardinal Wolsey about the possibility of divorcing Catherine. Wolsey visited Rome, where he hoped to get the Pope's consent for a divorce. However, the church was reluctant to rescind the earlier papal dispensation and felt heavy pressure from Catherine's nephew, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in support of his aunt. Catherine contested the divorce, and a protracted legal battle followed. Wolsey fell from favour as a result of his failure to procure a divorce, and Henry appointed Thomas Cromwell in his place.

Break with Roman Catholicism

In order to allow Henry to divorce his wife, the English parliament enacted laws breaking ties with Rome, and declaring the king Supreme Head of the Church of England. The newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, was then able to declare Henry's marriage to Catherine annulled. This allowed Henry to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn, the daughter of a minor diplomat Sir Thomas Boleyn. Anne became pregnant in 1533, but the child, born in September that year, was a girl, named Elizabeth in honour of Henry's mother. Anne may have had later pregnancies which ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. Thomas Cromwell stepped in again, claiming that Anne had taken lovers during her marriage to Henry, and she was tried for high treason, witchcraft and incest; these charges were most likely fabricated, but she was found guilty, and executed in 1536.

Protestant alliance

Henry married again, for a third time, to Jane Seymour, the daughter of a Wiltshire knight. Jane became pregnant, and in 1537 produced a son, who became King Edward VI following Henry's death in 1547. Jane died of puerperal fever only a few days after the birth, and Henry was devastated. Cromwell continued to gain the king's favour when he designed and pushed through the Laws in Wales Acts, uniting England and Wales, and continued to hold favour even when Henry faced the biggest threat to his rule. Henry married for a fourth time, to the daughter of a Protestant German duke Anne of Cleves, thus forming an alliance with the Protestant German states. Henry was reluctant to marry again, especially to a Protestant, but he was persuaded when the court painter Hans Holbein the Younger showed him a flattering portrait of her. She arrived in England in December 1539, and Henry rode to Rochester to meet her on January 1 1540. Although the historian Gilbert Burnet claimed that Henry called her a "Flanders Mare", there is no evidence that he said this; court ambassadors negotiating the marriage praised her beauty. Whatever the circumstances were, the marriage failed, and Anne agreed to a peaceful annulment, assumed the title "My Lady, the King's Sister", and received a massive divorce settlement, which included Richmond Palace, Hever Castle, and numerous other estates across the country. Henry chose to blame Cromwell for the failed marriage, and ordered him beheaded on 28 July 1540.

The fifth marriage was to the Catholic Catherine Howard, a cousin of Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, who was promoted by Norfolk in the hope that she would persuade Henry to restore Roman Catholicism in England. Henry called her his “rose without a thorn”, but the marriage ended in failure. Catherine, forced into a marriage to an unattractive, obese man over 30 years her senior, had never wanted to marry Henry, and conducted an affair with the King's favourite, Thomas Culpeper, while Henry and she were married. She was accused of treason and was executed on February 13 1542, destroying the Roman Catholic hopes of a reconciliation with the Roman church.While Henry conducted another Protestant marriage with his final wife Catherine Parr in 1543, the old Roman Catholic advisers, including the powerful third Duke of Norfolk had lost all their power and influence. Henry himself was still a committed Catholic, and he was nearly persuaded to arrest Catherine for preaching Lutheran doctrines to Henry while she attended his ill health. However, his son Edward was brought up a strict and devout Protestant by numerous tutors, including Bishop Richard Cox, John Belmain, and Sir John Cheke.

Edward VI: Protestant extremity

After Henry led troops during the Siege of Boulogne in 1544–an attempt to take French territory for England–he died on January 28 1547. His will had reinstated his daughters by his annulled marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn to the line of succession, but did not legitimise them. (Because his marriages had been annulled, they legally never occurred, so his children by those marriages were illegitimate.) In the event that all 3 of his children died without heir, the will stipulated that the descendant of his younger sister Mary (who bore no children by her French husband), and subsequently re-married Henry's childhood friend Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, over the descendants of his elder sister, Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Edward, his nine-year old son by Jane Seymour, succeeded as Edward VI of England.

Duke of Somerset's England

Although Henry had specified a group of men to act as regents during Edward's minority, Edward Seymour, Edward's uncle, quickly seized complete control, and created himself Duke of Somerset on February 15 1547. His domination of the Privy Council, the king's most senior body of advisers, was unchallenged. Somerset aimed to unite England and Scotland by marrying Edward to the young Scottish queen Mary, and aimed to forcibly impose the English Reformation on the Church of Scotland. Somerset led a large and well equipped army to Scotland, where he and the Scottish regent James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, commanded their armies at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on September 10 1547. Somerset's army eventually defeated the Scots, but the young Queen Mary was smuggled to France, where she was betrothed to the Dauphin, the future Francis II of France. Despite Somerset's disappointment that no Scottish marriage would take place, his victory at Pinkie Cleugh made his position appear unassailable.Meanwhile, Edward VI, despite the fact that he was only a child of nine, had his mind set on religious reform. In 1549, Edward ordered the publication of the Book of Common Prayer, containing the forms of worship for daily and Sunday church services. The controversial new book was not welcomed by either reformers or Catholic conservatives; and it was especially condemned in Devon and Cornwall, where traditional Catholic loyalty was at its strongest. In Cornwall at the time, many of the people could only speak the Cornish language, so the uniform English bibles and church services were not understood by many. This caused the Prayer Book Rebellion, in which groups of Cornish non-conformists gathered round the mayor. The rebellion worried Somerset, now Lord Protector, and he sent an army to impose military solution to the rebellion. One in ten of the indigenous Cornish population was slaughtered. dubious|date=August 2008 The rebellion did not persuade Edward to tread carefully, and only hardened his attitude towards Catholic non-conformists. This extended to Edward's elder sister, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor, who was a pious and devout Catholic. Although called before the Privy Council several times to renounce her faith and stop hearing the Catholic Mass, she refused. He had a good relationship with his sister Elizabeth, who was a Protestant, albeit a moderate one, but this was strained when Elizabeth was accused of having an affair with the Duke of Somerset's brother, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, the husband of Henry's last wife Catherine Parr. Elizabeth was interviewed by one of Edward's advisers, and she was eventually found not to be guilty, despite forced confessions from her servants Catherine Ashley and Thomas Parry. Thomas Seymour was arrested and beheaded on March 20 1549.

Problematic succession

Lord Protector Somerset was also losing favour. After forcibly removing Edward VI to Windsor Castle, with the intention of keeping him hostage, Somerset was removed from power by Edward's rival on the council, John Dudley, the first Earl of Warwick, who created himself Duke of Northumberland shortly after his rise. Northumberland effectively became Lord Protector, but he did not use this title, learning from the mistakes his predecessor made. Northumberland was furiously ambitious, and aimed to secure Protestant uniformity while making himself rich with land and money in the process. He ordered churches to be stripped of all traditional Catholic symbolism, resulting in the plainness often seen in Church of England churches today. A revision of the Book of Common Prayer was published in 1552. When Edward VI became ill in 1553, his advisers looked to the possible imminent accession of the Catholic Lady Mary, and feared that she would overturn all the reforms made during Edward's reign. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the dying Edward himself who feared a return to Catholicism, and wrote a new will repudiating the 1544 will of Henry VIII. This gave the succession to his cousin Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry VII's daughter Mary Tudor, who, after the death of Louis XII of France in 1515 had married Henry VIII's favourite Charles Brandon, the first Duke of Suffolk. Lady Jane's mother was Lady Frances Brandon, the daughter of Suffolk and Princess Mary. Northumberland married Jane to his youngest son Guildford Dudley, allowing himself to get the most out of a necessary Protestant succession. Most of Edward's council signed the "Devise for the Succession", and when Edward VI died on July 6 1553, Lady Jane was proclaimed queen. However, the popular support for the proper Tudor dynasty–even a Catholic member–overruled Northumberland's plans, and Jane, who had never wanted to accept the crown, was deposed after just nine days. Mary's supporters joined her in a triumphal procession to London, accompanied by her younger sister Elizabeth. Jane was later executed along with her husband Guildford Dudley, son of John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland.

Mary I: A troubled queen's reign

The early reign of Queen Mary I was successful. The politicians formerly loyal to Lady Jane Grey flocked to support Mary, and she pardoned most of those who would have kept her off the throne. Lady Jane herself was locked in the Tower of London in relative comfort, and allowed to walk outside (within the Tower walls) with relative freedom. However, when Jane's father Henry Grey, the first Duke of Suffolk, attempted to depose Mary and put Jane back on the throne, Mary executed both the Dukes of Suffolk and Northumberland. After some hesitation, and having failed to convert Lady Jane to Catholicism, Mary sent Lady Jane to the scaffold on February 12 1554, to avoid any further attempts to re-instate her to the throne. The Tudor dynasty's hold on the throne of England was once again secure.

However, Mary soon announced that she was intending to marry the Spanish prince Philip, son of her mother's nephew Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The prospect of a marriage alliance with Spain proved unpopular with the English people, who were worried that Spain would use England as a satellite, involving England in wars without the popular support of the people. Popular discontent grew; a Protestant courtier, Thomas Wyatt the younger led a rebellion against Mary, with the aim of deposing and replacing her with her half-sister Elizabeth. The plot was discovered, and Wyatt's supporters were hunted down and killed. Wyatt himself was tortured, in the hope that he would give evidence that Elizabeth was involved so that Mary could have her executed for treason. Wyatt never implicated Elizabeth, and he was beheaded. Elizabeth spent her time between different prisons, including the Tower of London. Mary married Philip at Winchester Cathedral, on July 25 1554. Philip found her unattractive, and only spent a minimal amount of time with her. Despite Mary believing she was pregnant numerous times during her five-year reign, she never reproduced. Devastated that she rarely saw her husband, and anxious that she was not bearing an heir to Catholic England, Mary became bitter. In her aim to restore England to the Catholic faith and to secure her throne from Protestant threats, she had many Protestants burnt at the stake between 1555 and 1558. Mary's main goal was to eradicate Protestant heresy, but her actions, even for Catholic conservatives, were seen as brutal and extreme; she became deeply unpopular with her people, and they hoped for her death so that Elizabeth could succeed her. Mary's dream of a resurrected Catholic Tudor dynasty was finished, and her popularity further declined when she lost the last English area on French soil, Calais, to Francis, Duke of Guise on January 7 1558. Mary died, bitter and lonely, on November 17 1558. Elizabeth Tudor was now Elizabeth I of England.

The Age of Intrigues and Plots: Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I, who was staying at Hatfield House at the time of her accession, rode to London to the cheers of both the ruling class and the common people. She chose as her chief minister Sir William Cecil, a Protestant, and former secretary to Lord Protector the Duke of Somerset and then to the Duke of Northumberland. Under Mary, he had been spared, and often visited Elizabeth, ostensibly to review her accounts and expenditure. Elizabeth also appointed her personal favourite, the son of the Duke of Northumberland Lord Robert Dudley, her Master of the Horse, giving him constant personal access to the queen.

Imposing the Church of England

Elizabeth was a moderate Protestant; she was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who played a key role in the English Reformation in the 1520s. At her coronation in January 1559, many of the bishops–Catholic, appointed by Mary, who had expelled many of the Protestant clergymen when she became queen in 1553–refused to perform the service in English. Eventually, the relatively minor Bishop of Carlisle, Owen Oglethorpe, performed the ceremony; but when Oglethorpe attempted to perform traditional Catholic parts of the Coronation, Elizabeth got up and left. Following the Coronation, two important Acts were passed through parliament: the Act of Uniformity and the Act of Supremacy, establishing the Protestant Church of England and creating Elizabeth Supreme Governor of the Church of England ("Supreme Head", the title used by her father and brother, was seen as inappropriate for a woman ruler). These acts, known collectively as the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, made it compulsory to attend church services every Sunday; and imposed an oath on clergymen and statesmen to recognise the Church of England, the independence of the Church of England from the Catholic Church, and the authority of Elizabeth as Supreme Governor. Elizabeth made it clear that if they refused the oath the first time, they would have a second opportunity, after which, if the oath was not sworn, the offender would be deprived of their offices and estates.

Pressure to marry

The popularity of Elizabeth was extremely high, but her Privy Council, her Parliament and her subjects thought that the unmarried queen should take a husband; it was generally accepted that, once a queen regnant was married, the husband would relieve the woman of the burdens of head of state. Also, without an heir, the Tudor dynasty would end; the risk of civil war between rival claimants was a possibility if Elizabeth died childless. Numerous suitors from nearly all European nations sent ambassadors to the English court to put forward their suit. Risk of death came dangerously close in 1564 when Elizabeth caught smallpox; when she was most at risk, she named Robert Dudley as Lord Protector in the event of her death. After her recovery, she appointed Dudley to the Privy Council and created him Earl of Leicester, in the hope that he would marry Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary rejected him, and instead married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, a descendant of Henry VII, giving Mary a stronger claim to the English throne. Although many Catholics were loyal to Elizabeth, many also believed that, because Elizabeth was declared illegitimate after her parents' marriage was annulled, Mary was the strongest legitimate claimant. Despite this, Elizabeth would not name Mary her heir; as she had experienced during the reign of her predecessor Mary I, the opposition could flock around the heir if they were disheartened with Elizabeth's rule.Numerous threats to the Tudor dynasty occurred during Elizabeth's reign. In 1569, a group of Earls led by Charles Neville, the sixth Earl of Westmorland, and Thomas Percy, the seventh Earl of Northumberland attempted to depose Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots. In 1571, the Protestant-turned-Catholic Thomas Howard, the fourth Duke of Norfolk, had plans to marry Mary, Queen of Scots and then replace Elizabeth with Mary. The plot, masterminded by Roberto di Ridolfi, was discovered and Norfolk was beheaded. The next major uprising was in 1601, when Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex, attempted to raise the city of London against Elizabeth's government. The city of London proved unwilling to rebel; Essex and most of his co-rebels were executed. Threats also came from abroad. In 1570, Pope Pius V issued a Papal bull, "Regnans in Excelsis", excommunicating Elizabeth, and releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her. Elizabeth came under pressure from Parliament to execute Mary, Queen of Scots to prevent any further attempts to replace her; though faced with several official requests, she vacillated over the decision to execute an anointed queen. Finally, she was persuaded of Mary's (treasonous) complicity in the plotting against her, and she signed the death warrant in 1586. Mary was executed at Fotheringay Castle on February 8 1587, to the outrage of Catholic Europe.

Last hopes of a Tudor heir

Despite the uncertainty of Elizabeth's–and therefore the Tudor dynasty's–hold on England, Elizabeth never married. The closest she came to marriage was between 1579 and 1581, when she was courted by Francis, Duke of Anjou, the son of Henry II of France and Catherine de' Medici. Despite Elizabeth's government constantly begging her to marry in the early years of her reign, it now was persuading Elizabeth not to marry the French prince; his mother, Catherine de' Medici, was suspected of ordering the St Bartholomew's Day massacre of six thousand French Protestant Hugenots in 1572. Elizabeth bowed to public discontent against the marriage, learning from the mistake her sister made when she married Philip II of Spain, and sent the Duke of Anjou away. Elizabeth knew that the continuation of the Tudor dynasty was now impossible; she was forty-eight in 1581, and too old to bear children.

By far the most dangerous threat to the Tudor dynasty during Elizabeth's reign was the Spanish Armada of 1588. Launched by Elizabeth's old suitor Philip II of Spain, and commanded by Alonso de Guzmán El Bueno, the seventh Duke of Medina Sidonia, the Spanish had 22 galleons and 108 armed merchant ships; however, the English and the Dutch Republic outnumbered them. The Spanish lost as a result of bad weather on the English Channel and poor planning and supplies, and the skills of Sir Francis Drake and Charles Howard, the second Baron Howard of Effingham (later first Earl of Nottingham).

While Elizabeth declined physically with age, her running of the country continued to benefit her people. In response to famine across England due to bad harvests in the 1590s, Elizabeth introduced the poor law, allowing peasants that were too ill to work a certain amount of money from the state. All the money Elizabeth had borrowed from Parliament in 12 of the 13 parliamentary sessions was paid back; by the time of her death, Elizabeth not only had no debts, but was in credit. Elizabeth died childless at Richmond Palace on March 24 1603. She never named a successor. However, her chief minister Sir Robert Cecil had corresponded with the Protestant King James VI of Scotland son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and James's succession to the English throne was unopposed. The Tudor dynasty was survived only in the female line, with the House of Stuart occupying the English throne for most of the following century.

Tudor monarchs of England

The six Tudor monarchs were:

To the Tudor period belongs the elevation of the English-ruled state in Ireland from a Lordship to a Kingdom (1541).

Tudor Family Tree

Patrilineal descent

Patrilineal descent, descent from father to son, is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the paternal line. [Descent from before Ednyfed is from [http://fabpedigree.com/s032/f667320.htm] and may be really unreliable.] According to this point of view, the last of the House of Tudor monarchs was Edward VI. Others extend the house to Edward's two half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, who were also born into the Tudor family.

Royal House of Tudor

#Marchudd ap Cynan, c. 846
#Kerwit, Lord of Brnffenigl
#Senylt, Lord of Brnffenigl
#Nathen of Brnffenigl
#Edryt ap Nathen, Prince in Wales
#Idnerth ap Edryd
#Gwgon of Brnffenigl
#Iorwerth of Brnffenigl
#Kendrig of Brnffenigl
#Ednyfed Fychan, d. 1246
#Goronwy, Lord of Tres-gastell, d. 1268
#Tudur Hen, Lord of Pemmynydd, d. 1311
#Goronwy ap Tudur, d. 1331
#Tudur Fychan, Lord of Pemmynydd, d. 1367
#Maredudd ap Tudur, d. 1406
#Owen Tudor, 1400–1461
#Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, 1430–1456
#Henry VII of England, 1457–1509
#Henry VIII of England, 1491–1547
#Edward VI of England, 1537–1553
("end of male line")
#Mary I of England, 1516–1558
#Elizabeth I of England, 1533–1603

ee also

*England and Wales
*Wars of the Roses
*Tudor style
*Tudor rose
*Richmond Castle
*Richmond Palace
*Tudor re-conquest of Ireland
*The Tudors and the Royal Navy



* Guy, John (ed). "The Tudor Monarchy". St Martin’s Press, 1997.
* Jones, Michael K. and Malcolm G. Underwood, [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1863 "Beaufort, Margaret , countess of Richmond and Derby (1443–1509)"] , "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 27 August 2007.
* Thomas, R. S. [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/27795 "Tudor, Edmund, first earl of Richmond (c.1430–1456)"] , "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 27 August 2007.
* Turton, Godfrey. "The Dragon’s Breed: The Story of the Tudors from Earliest Times to 1603". Peter Davies, 1970.

External links

* [http://www.tudors.org/ tudors.org - history lectures, essays and lectures by John Guy]
* [http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/index.html Tudor Place]
* [http://tudorhistory.org/ Tudor History]
* [http://www.badley.info/history/House-of-Tudor-England.general.html House of Tudor Chronology]
* [http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page11.asp Official British Royal Site Discussion on the Tudors]
* [http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/tudor_england.htm Tudor History]
* [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article4111910.ece "The Tudor delusion"] : an article in the [http://www.the-tls.co.uk TLS] by Clifford S. L. Davies, arguing that we are wrong even to talk about "the Tudors", June 11 2008.

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