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TUDOR DYNASTY Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Irelandfrom his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor.Bymarring Elizabeth of York, he reconciled the two houses of Lancaster and York and put an end to the Wars of the Roses. During his reign he created a new power and balance in England. He diminished the power of the nobles, because they were very powerful and rich, and gave more power to the middle classes. He also created a new powerful fleet. His reign also coincided with the period of great geographical explorations.
Henry VII promoted the expeditions of John and Sebastian Cabot to North America. These exploratory voyages did not finish with Henry VII, but also continued during the reign of queen Elizabeth I. During his reign Parliament was not an essential part of English political system, in fact he did not often summon it. He made Tudor monarchy strong and feared; he tried to increase its standing in Europe by marrying his eldest son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the king of Spain, and his daughter Margaret to James IV of Scotland.
Henry VIII succeeded his father, Henry VII. His succession was easier than his father who had fought a war to win the throne. He was the ideal Renaissance monarch, since he was scholar, musician, sportsman and poet. The most important event during his reign was the breach with Rome. He separated the Church of England from Rome for both political and personal reasons. After his brother’s death, he married hi brother’s widow, Catherine, who gave him a daughter. But he wanted a male heir and Catherine did not give him a son. He had also fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, a lady-in-waiting of the queen, and Henry asked the Pope for the divorce to marry her. But Pope Clement VII refused .The king did not accept Pope’s authority and decided to solve the question through the to solve the English clergy and English parliament. He replaced his chancellor by Thomas More and made Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury. So his first marriage was declared void and he could marry Anne Boleyn. In 1534 an Act of Parliament, called the Act of Supremacy, declared the king “Only Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England”. Thomas More, who had accepted king’s divorce, did not accept the repudiation of the Pope’s authority in religion matters. He was imprisoned into the Tower of London and in 1535 he died on the scaffold. In 1536 papal authority in England was declared extinct.
Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife. When he ascended the throne he was only 9 years old. So his uncle, the duke of Somerset, was nominated his protector. Meanwhile archbishop Cranmer was instructed to write the book of common prayer, so that Church services could be held in English instead of Latin. The duke of Somerset was fairly tolerant in Church and State, but in his country there were several religious parties and his tolerance led to many uprising for which he was considered responsible. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death. He was replaced by the duke of Northumberland, his great adversary. Soon Edward fell ill and seemed unlikely to recover. So Northumberland, knowing the king feared a Catholic reaction under his sister Mary, persuaded him to sign a will, giving the crown to Lady Jane Grey, who had married the duke’s son. But Mary was recognized queen of England and he was executed together with Lady Grey and her husband.
Mary I Tudor was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. She had grown up brooding over the wrongs suffered by her mother. When she ascended the throne, she wanted to bring England back to Catholicism. She reintroduced the catholic religion, Latin mass and the old ceremonies. She burned alive more than 300 protestants and for this she was called “Bloody Mary”.Mary married Philip II of Spain but he could not interfere with the laws of England and could not drag England into a war with France. But he did not respect the pact. There was a war with France and England lost the last English dominion in France. In 1558 Mary died and left a country humiliated, ill governed, religiously divided and dependent on Spain.
Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. When she came to the throne, she found her country on the verge of a civil war. She devoted all her life to the creation of a modern stronger England. She had a special political talent, she possessed a lively intelligence and she always chose the middle way to govern her country. Elizabeth reintroduced the protestant religion. In 1559 there was a second act of supremacy which asserted the supremacy of the monarch. She called herself Governor and not “Supreme Head on Earth” of the church of England as her father had done. Her counselors wanted she married someone and had a heir. But she never married, she thought only to her people. In fact she gave England more then 40 years of stability and prosperity. This period was called the Golden age. In the end she became a Virgin.