The Tudor Dynasty

Henry Tudor found himself as the heir to the House of Lancaster through his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort the great grand daughter of John of Gaunt but his father Edmond Tudor, was Welsh and therefore he did not inherit the crown but conquered it. In search of a glorious heritage he traced his ancestry from Cadwaladr, the powerful Welsh king of the 7th century and the legendary King Arthur, thus adhering his Tudor roots to the ancient English soil. The irrefutable founder of the House of Tudor was Owen Tudor, a young handsome Welsh lord, brave and intelligent, renowned for his love affair with Catherine of Valois, Henry V’s widow. He played a significant role in the War of Roses and of his five children with Catherine, Edmond was the father of Henry VII. He died before the birth of his son who was brought up and educated by his uncle Jasper, Count of Pembroke. The Parliament acclaimed Henry as the new savior sent by God to relieve the people but Henry Tudor had to affirm his legitimacy and his lineage. Although his legacy was satisfactory there were others nearer to the royal crown and hence imprisoned the young prince, Edward, Earl of Warwick, a ten-year old weak minded youth, the son of the Duke of Clarence. As a far-sighted monarch he picked out prominent counselors from both the Houses of Lancaster and York and married Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV from whose union four of his seven children survived.

Henry’s eldest son Arthur was born in Winchester, the legendary site of Camelot and was entrusted to the great masters for his education. At the very tender age of three he was betrothed to Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Isabella of Castille and Philip of Aragon, to counterbalance England’s political power in Europe. He married his daughter Margaret to the Scottish king James IV to put an end to the incessant wars with his Northern neighbor while the young princess Mary was destined to share the crown and the life of the old French king, Louis XII becoming his widow very soon. Concerning the internal affairs of the country Henry took important and efficient measures to assure a good government by focusing his faith on the gentry, the yeomen and merchants. He modified the army and encouraged commerce and navigation; he ratified a commercial treaty, Magnus Intercursus, with the Dutch government, the first of its kind for the acquisition of foreign markets and encouraged maritime discoveries. He was a peace loving monarch who was also parsimonious in his affairs and filled the Royal Treasury that made England a rich country during his time. In November 1501, when his son Arthur died, the king undeterred obtained a papal dispensation and married his second son Henry to the young widow Katherine and circumvented the dowry brought by the princess and preserved the Anglo-Spanish alliance.

After his father’s death in 1509, the young king continued to recuperate the lost territories on the French soil and strengthened the political lineage of his father between Spain and France. As an ambitious young man he embodied the Renaissance and was endowed the title of the Defender of the Faith by Rome for his book which attacked the theology of Martin Luther. This title was added to the full royal title of Henry as “Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith and Lord of Ireland”. His reign and his married life with his brother’s widow began favorably until Henry became impatient with Catherine’s inability to produce the heir he desired to consolidate the Tudor dynasty. He wanted the Holy See to annul his marriage that became the “King’s Great matter” and when the pope refused, the king broke away from the Holy See. Thus the second king of the Tudor Dynasty was the first English monarch to become the Head of the English church. He had six wives and three children of which only one Edward VI was legitimate, became king after his father. However after his death his cousin and half sister ruled the country until 1588 when princess Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn’s daughter became the Queen of England.

Queen Elizabeth’s long reign rendered an unmatched rise and stability to England and she proved herself to be an excellent monarch by choosing and keeping throughout her reign the remarkable William Cecil. Unlike her father she inherited a very poor treasury and yet governed the country wisely, privileging the national interests and the kingdom’s security. During this time the national Church was set up and the structures of the government and administration were enforced with the development of trade and navy while the Queen personally financed maritime expeditions. As for culture it developed in an extraordinary manner with theatres and plays. Yet she was unable to give a heir to her beloved England; for she decided to remain single and after her reign the Tudor Dynasty came to an end.

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