By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, was the first Tudor King and father to Henry VIII. He ended the Wars of the Roses and began the Tudor age. The Wars of the Roses, fought between the Royal Houses of York (white rose) and Lancaster (red rose) began in 1455, when Richard Duke of York challenged Henry VI's claim to the throne. By 1480 Henry Tudor, Early of Richmond, was the only Lancastrian with a claim to the throne left and was living in exile in France. Meanwhile in England the Yorkist king Richard III had become very unpopular and in 1485 Henry Tudor decided the time was right to return to England and attempt to overthrow him. He invaded with a small army but was quickly joined by many loyal to the house of Lancaster. A great pitched battle was fought at Bosworth Field and Richard was defeated and slain. Henry Tudor was crowned Henry VII. He then did a very smart thing: he married the Yorkist princess Elizabeth. Now there could be no conflicts over who had a better claim ot the throne, because any new princes would be half Lancastrian and half Yorkist. As well as combining the white and red rose symbols, Henry and Elizabeth had 7 children, 3 of whom died at a young age. The names of the survivors were Mary, Margaret, Arthur and Henry. Henry VII's challenges were not over, however. Several revolts and minor battles occurred during his reign as he struggled to bring financial stability to the nation and the taxes that he enforced led to him being called a 'miser' and 'greedy' by some.
Henry VIII (1491-1547) removed the pope as head of the church in England, though the basis of the nation's religion did not change greatly. Father of Edward VI
Edward (1537-1553) was only 9 years old when he became king. Because of his youth, he had two advisors. The first was his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, who became Lord Protector, and for the first two and a half years of Edward's reign, Somerset advised and guided the young king. Somerset was replaced by the Duke of Northumberland. Both men wanted major changes made to England's religion. As a result of their advice and Edward's beliefs, Edward's reign is mainly remembered for the changes made to religion while he was king. During Edward's reign, major religious changes did occur that had not penetrated during his father Henry VIII's reign.
Laws were passed to make churches more plain. Catholic churches were rich in decorations and color. Now under Edward, stained glass windows and pictures were removed from churches; the furniture within churches became very basic. The actual services were made linear and the common person could no understand what was being said as services -- now called Holy Communion -- were in English. Archbishop Cranmer wrote a prayer book also in English. Priests did not have to dress in the bright clothing associated with the Catholic Church and under Edward, they were allowed to marry. The king remained as head of the church.
All of these changes were a major break from what the Catholic Church had been like. In parts of Germany and Switzerland, religious groups had also broken away in protest against the wealth and corruption of the Catholic Church. They become known as Protestant, and England under Edward, became a Protestant country with a Church of England.
Edward had never been a healthy boy and his health failed in 1553. A nine day interruption of the 'queen-who-never-was', Lady Jane Grey, his half-sister Mary became queen of England and the country went through another spell of religious changes.
Lady Jane Grey
A nine day interruption of the 'queen-who-never-was' before Edward VI's half-sister Mary became queen of England.
Mary I (1516-1558)
Winchester City Mill Museum