The Tudors were a family of Welsh, French, and English descent. From 1485 to 1603 they ruled England, Wales, and rebellious Ireland. The Tudor kingdom became a powerful force in Europe and the New World.
The Tudor economy depended on wool and the cloth trade, which was centered in the English region of East Anglia. To expand their trade, merchants and ships’ captains began to seek new business in distant lands.
Henry VIII was followed as ruler by his three children, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. Elizabeth was a strong and popular ruler, and a shrewd politician. She never married. Her reign saw battles with Spain, exploration of the New World, and a flowering of poetry and theater.
Table 47. TUDOR MONARCHS
|1485||Henry VII wins throne from Richard III|
|1509||Henry VIII is crowned king|
|1547||Rule of the boy king Edward VI|
|1553||Reign of Mary I|
|1558||Elizabeth I becomes queen|
|1603||Death of Elizabeth I|
As a young man, Henry was handsome and intelligent. He loved hunting and dancing, and also composed music. As king, he became increasingly arrogant, selfish, and overweight. He married six times and had two of his wives executed. His reign was marked by political plotting, religious strife, and rebellion.
King Henry VIII married his elder brother’s widow, a Spanish princess called Catherine of Aragon. Although she had a daughter, Mary, she did not produce the male heir Henry wanted. The king fell in love with a beautiful courtier named Anne Boleyn. When the Pope refused to give him a divorce, Henry VIII made himself head of a CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
Henry VIII finally broke with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534. However, he also rejected the Protestant teachings of Martin Luther. In 1559, after years of religious conflict, Elizabeth I created a reformed Church of England that contained both Catholic and Protestant elements. It was, and still is, headed by the monarch.
Henry VIII’s political quarrel with the Pope coincided with the bitter religious quarrels of the Reformation in Europe. Edward VI and Elizabeth I were both Protestant, while Mary I was an ardent Catholic. Many ordinary people were tortured and executed for having a different faith than the reigning monarch.