There were five Tudor monarchs: Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward IV, Mary I, Elizabeth I. Of these, Henry VIII is most famous for his many wives and Elizabeth is famous for her lack of husbands. The Tudor family has captivated history’s attention for hundreds of years, thanks to the colorful characters, political intrigues and personal scandals attached to each member.
Henry VII was born Henry Tudor, son of a Welsh nobleman and Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of Edward III. It was through his mother he claimed his right to the English throne. Henry VII spent much of his early life on the run from the House of York, who had continued to try and assassinate him. In 1485, He wrestled the crown away from Richard III in the War of the Roses. To cement his claim to the throne, Henry married Elizabeth of Your, daughter of Edward IV.
By far and large the most infamous of the European kings is Henry VIII. Henry wasn’t groomed to be king of England. He was a second son, destined for the church until the untimely death of his older brother, Author. Upon his accession to the throne Henry married Katherine of Aragon, wife of his late brother. When Katherine failed to produce a living son, Henry made the radical step of breaking with the Catholic Church and declaring himself Head of the Church of England. A string of unfortunate wives would follow Katherine of Aragon, including Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Only the last wife, Katherine Parr would escape old King Harry, whom she outlived. During his reign, Henry spent great sums of money playing war with the King of France and the Holy Roman Emperor.
Reigned 1547- 1553
A child king, Edward VI reign was controlled by his protestant Seymour family. His uncle, Edward Seymour, acted as regent immediately following the death of Henry VIII. The Seymour family was later overthrown by the Dudley family who would scheme to make Edwards cousin, Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England.
An unfortunate soul that history would remember as “Bloody Mary,” Mary Tudor was a victim of powerful political scheming. Her father (Henry VIII) had no problem stripping his eldest daughter of her royal title and rightful inheritance, to marry his second wife. Through much of her adulthood Mary was in danger of treason, since she was an open and very devout catholic in a newly Protestant England. When she inherited the throne from her younger brother in 1553, she tried unsuccessfully to turn England Catholic once more.
Reigned 1558- 1603
Elizabeth I gave her name to a golden age in England. Under her authority, England became a place of religious toleration, commercial prosperity and a power to be reckoned with in Europe. Elizabeth kept the rest of the European nobility on their toes during her various husband hunts. She played her maiden state to the fullest, promising Spain, then France, then other powers her hand in marriage. The tactics worked, keeping powers at bay, to try and win her hand. By the end of her 44 year reign, England had become a supreme naval power and had begun establishing colonies and trading posts in the Americas, India and the East.