This was an age where England was dispossessed of her territories in France and subject to an internal dispute between the two most powerful houses in England over the the right to rule the country.
The eventual outcome was an amalgamation of the houses of Lancaster and York embodied in the Tudors: a succession of rulers that were to oversee some of the most dramatic events in English History, the most notable being the split with the church in Rome and the attempted invasion of England by Phillip of Spain's Armada.
The Battle of Redemore, Bosworth - 22nd August 1485
The Battle of Redemore, or more commonly known as Bosworth Field, was fought between Henry Tudor, the Lancastrian claimant to the the throne, and King Richard the Third, last of the Plantagenet kings.
Although not the last battle of the Wars of the Roses it traditionally marks the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the Tudor period. The battle is considered to be one of the most important in English history. It is significant in that it was the last battle in which an English King died and was the last time a charge of mounted knights took place on English soil. After the battle Henry claimed the throne by right of conquest so it could be said that this was the last time that England was conquered.
The battle of Redemore, or battle of Bosworth, took place on 22nd August 1485 between the forces of King Richard III and Henry Tudor
Henry landed with 2000 French mercenaries at Milford Haven in Wales on 7th August. He marched north east gathering support and arrived at Atherstone on the evening of 20th August with a force of around 5,000. In addition to this force Henry was counting on support from his step father Lord Thomas Stanley and Thomas' brother Sir William Stanley who between them commanded about 6,000 men. The Stanley's had swapped sides repeatedly throughout the Wars of the Roses but at this time they remained non-committal, probably because Lord Strange, a son of Thomas Stanley, was held hostage by Richard.
Richard assembled his forces at Leicester; he was determined to give battle and on the 21st the royalist army moved west and camped the night around Ambion Hill near Sutton Chaney. Richard mustered about 9,000 to 10,000 men organised in two battles: the Vanward under the Duke of Norfolk and the Rearward under the Earl of Northumberland. Richard also had the use of a significant amount of artillery but was denied the opportunity to use them to much effect.
Early on the morning of the 22nd Richard deployed his troops just south west of Ambion hill and awaited the arrival of Henry's rebel army.
Henry's force was under the command of the Earl of Oxford, who was to demonstrate a brilliant tactical move that threw the Royalist army into confusion and exposed Norfolk's rear to attack by Sir William Stanley. Henry would not know until the last minute whether the Stanley's would take his side or not.
Richard recognised the threat to Norfolk's position and immediately attacked Henry in person who had moved forward to meet Sir William.
As Richard engaged Henry's lifeguard, killing his standard bearer, Sir William's troops entered the fray forcing Richard into the marsh where he was killed fighting hard to the bitter end.
Triumphant, Henry moved to a local high spot, now called Crown Hill, where it is said that Richard's crown was placed upon his head by Lord Thomas Stanley.
It is unsure if the Stanley's always intended to fight on Henry's side or whether Sir William just took the opportunity to ensure the fight ended in their favour. Certainly Lord Thomas did not take any active part in the battle, but they were in the perfect positions to allow Oxford to attack Norfolk's flank. It is worth noting that when Richard threatened to execute Lord Strange Lord Thomas replied that he had other sons. Was he referring to his step-son Henry?
Regardless of whether the battle was decided by the treachery of the Stanley's or by the tactical brilliance of the Earl of Oxford the outcome was the same; Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII of England. He married Elizabeth of York to unite the houses of Lancaster and York and established a dynasty that would preside over some of the most important events in English history.
Henry VIII (1491 – 1547)
Henry was born on June 28th 1491, the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. His eldest brother Arthur died on April 2nd 1502 leaving Henry as heir to the throne of England. When his father died in 1509 Henry was crowned King of England and Lord of Ireland.
Henry is best known for his struggles with the Roman Catholic Church. Henry was well aware of the problems due to a lack of a male heir to the throne and was determined to avoid a repeat of the Wars of the Roses of previous decades. After Arthur had died Henry's father had arranged for him to marry Arthur's widow, Catherine of Aragon. At the tender age of 17 Henry married Catherine on 11 June 1509 and they were both crowned at Westminster Abby on 25th June 1509. The marriage, however, did not produced the male heir he required to succeed him; the only child being a girl, Princess Mary of England, who later reigned as Mary I of England. In the mean time Henry had been attracted to one of the Queen's entourage, Anne Boleyn, who refused Henry's advances but this made Henry try even harder to win her favours. Anne eventually insisted that she would only give in if she were Queen. This, along with Henry's desire for a male heir, led to him seeking to divorce Catherine on the grounds that the marriage was illegal because she had been married to his brother.The Catholic church in Rome did not agree to Henry's requests and this caused Henry to blame his chief minister, Cardinal Wolsey, and to later sack him in 1529. Wolsey was replaced by Sir Thomas Moore who initially supported Henry but objected to the plans to break with Rome and later resigned, to be replaced by a leading Reformist Thomas Cromwell.
Henry married Anne in January 1533 and she quickly became pregnant. In May Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, proclaimed the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and the marriage between Henry and Anne to be valid. Anne was crowned Queen in June 1533. Anne gave birth to Elizabeth on 7th September 1533.
Relations with Rome deteriorated until Pope Clement finally excommunicated Henry and Thomas Cranmer. In 1534 the Act of Supremacy the King was the head of the Church of England and the Treason's Act made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse to acknowledge this. The Church of England was still Catholic and protestant reformers were still subject to persecution. Opposition to Henry was silenced. Thomas Moore, Henry's former chief minister, was executed for treason because he refused to take an Oath of allegiance to the King.
The relationship between Henry and Anne was difficult and, with Anne's failure to give him a son, in 1536 Henry sought to divorce Anne. Henry had found a new mistress, Jane Seymour, and Anne was quickly moved out of the Royal chambers. On May 19th 1536 Anne was executed by beheading accused of adultery. One day later Henry became engaged to Jane Seymour and ten days later they were married. Henry followed this with the Act of Succession that declared Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth to be illegitimate and excluded them from succeeding him as Sovereign of England. Jane gave birth to a son, Prince Edward, on October 12th 1537 but died due to complication on October 24th.
Henry's next wife was Anne of Cleves, a marriage made for political reasons more than anything. Henry had sent the painter Hans Holbein to paint a portrait of her, which was very flattering. In actual fact when he saw Anne he found her to be unattractive and wanted to annul the marriage so that he could marry somebody else. Anne did not oppose the divorce and was granted the title of 'Kings Sister', and given an estate to retire to. Thomas Cromwell fell out of favour for arranging the marriage and was executed.Henry's fifth wife was Catherine Howard. The marriage took place on July 28th 1540 but she was soon accused of adultery by Thomas Cranmer, who was opposed to the strong Catholic Howard family. Catherine was executed on February 13th 1542.
Henry's sixth and final wife was Catherine Parr. Catherine managed to reconcile Henry with his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, who were re-instated in the line of succession after Prince Edward.
In his last years Henry had become obese and had to be carried around most places. Henry died on 28th January 1547 aged 55. He was buried in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle next to his third wife Jane Seymour.
Edward VI (1537 - 1553)
Edward was born on October 12th 1537, the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Aged only 9, on his father's death in January 1547, he became the King of England. A Regency council, led firstly by his uncle Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and then by the Earl of Warwick, governed on his behalf because he never reached the age of maturity.Henry VIII had established the Church of England but it was still Catholic. It was only during Edwards reign that the Church of England became Protestant. Under the direction of the Earl of Warwick the finances of the kingdom began to be restored to a level close to that of Henry VII's reign.
Edward became ill in January 1553. It was realised that his condition was terminal and plans were drawn up for his succession. Edward was opposed to Mary succeeding him, mainly because of her religious beliefs. Nor did he want Elizabeth to rule. Edward favoured his first cousin once removed, sixteen year old Lady Jane Grey. Edward had his wishes drawn up legally and passed by Parliament.
Edward died on July 6th 1553, aged 15. At the time there were many rumours circulating about him being poisoned by the Duke of Northumberland (Earl of Warwick) or Mary's supporters but the actual cause of death is thought to have been Consumption (tuberculosis).
Lady Jane Grey (1536/37 - 1554)
Jane Grey was born some time between 1536 and 1537. She was a great granddaughter of Henry VII and as such had a distant claim to the throne of England. When Edward VI died in 1553 he named her as his successor. It was widely believed that she was a puppet of her father in law, the Duke of Northumberland and her succession to the throne, four days after the death of Edward, was unpopular.
Edwards sister, Mary, though a Catholic, was a more popular choice and she promptly led a rebellion against the new Queen. Within nine days Mary had raised an armed force and proceeded to London, where parliament declared her the rightful Queen. Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Jane's father in law, the Duke of Northumberland, was executed for treason on August 22nd 1553.
In 1554 a rebellion led by Protestant Thomas Wyatt the Younger to prevent the Marriage of Mary to Catholic Prince Phillip was supported by Jane's father, the Duke of Suffolk. The rebellion was put down and, though having nothing to do with the rebellion, Jane and her husband were both executed for treason.
Mary I (1516 - 1558)
Born to Catherine of Aragon on February 18th 1516 Mary was the eldest child of Henry VIII. Upon the death of her half brother King Edward VI in 1553 she raised a military force and deposed Lady Jane Grey, replacing her as the rightful Queen. She immediately began to suppress the Protestant faith and restore England to Roman Catholicism, having nearly 300 protestants burned at the stake in the process, earning her the name of 'Bloody Mary'.
Mary married Prince Phillip, later to become King Phillip II of Spain. In 1556 Phillip's father, Charles I of Spain (the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V), abdicated and Mary became Queen of Spain. The marriage was very unpopular in England leading to open rebellion by Thomas Wyatt.
Mary, aged 42, died on November 17th 1558, without heir.
Elizabeth I (1533 - 1603)
Elizabeth was born on September 7th 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Anne was executed just two and a half years later, when Elizabeth was proclaimed illegitimate. When Mary I died Elizabeth succeeded her and immediately set out to undo the efforts of Mary and re-establish the English Protestant Church, which later became the modern Church of England.
On Mary's death her husband, King Phillip of Spain, offered Elizabeth the opportunity to marry him; Elizabeth refused. Elizabeth further infuriated Phillip by supporting the English privateers, who were attacking Spanish possessions in the New World, and aided rebels in the Spanish Netherlands. Phillip eventually arranged for the invasion of England and in 1588 sent an Armada to transport troops from the Netherlands to England in order to conqueror it and re-establish the Catholic church. The Armada was defeated by a Fleet led by the leading English Sea Captains of the time including Admiral Lord Howard, Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, Martin Frobisher and others.
Elizabeth was Queen of Ireland , but the people there were always willing to aid her enemies and she responded to a series of uprisings with scorched earth tactics, burning the land and slaughtering the people.Elizabeth encouraged overseas trade forming relations with Russia, Morocco, the Ottoman Empire and the Far East.
Despite having numerous relations with nobles such as Robert Dudley and the Earl of Essex, Elizabeth never married and was childless. When she died on March 24th 1603 secret plans to succeed her with James VI of Scotland, Mary's son, were put into practice. On 25th July 1603 James was crowned James the I of England, ending the Tudor dynasty.
Mary Queen of Scots (1542 - 1587)
Born on December 8th 1542 Mary Stewart was the daughter of King James V of Scotland. When James died on Dec 14th 1542 Mary was only a new born baby. She was crowned nine months later. Henry VIII had ambitions to unite England and Scotland through the marriage of Mary and his son Edward, though this was rejected by the Scots and led to a costly war between the two countries.
The Scots turned to France and in 1547 negotiated a treaty by which Mary would marry the Dauphin François, the son of the French King Henry II. Mary moved to France to be under the protection of Henry.
Mary was a great granddaughter of Henry VII and, even though King Henry had passed laws to prevent a member of the House of Stewart becoming Sovereign of England, was next in line to the throne after Elizabeth. Some considered Elizabeth to be illegitimate and Mary to be the rightful Queen.
When her husband François died Mary returned to Scotland. Relations with Elizabeth were strained though there were attempts to reconcile the problems through the marriage of Mary to Robert Dudley, a prominent English Protestant and favourite of Elizabeth. Dudley, however, was not a willing participant and Mary ended up marrying and English Catholic Lord Darnley, another claimant to the English throne. This marriage caused the Scottish Protestants to rebel and Darley joined with them briefly in order to murder Mary's friend, Rizzio, whom Darley was jealous of. Darley was considered to be a problem and was eventually assassinated, being blown up at his home in February 1567.
Mary then married James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, the chief suspect for Darley's murder. This was not popular amongst the Scottish lords and they united against Mary. Mary was imprisoned and forced to abdicate in favour of her one year old son James. During May 1568 Mary escaped and fled to England where she hoped Elizabeth would help her regain the Scottish throne. Mary was a threat to Elizabeth and spent her remaining years in confinement.
In 1586 Mary was implicated in the Babington plot, a conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth. She was placed on trial, found guilty of treason and executed by beheading on February 8th 1587. Armada (1588)
The Spanish Armada was sent to England in 1588 by King Philip II of Spain. The objective of the Armada was to escort the Duke of Parma' army across the English Channel so that it could defeat the English, replace Queen Elizabeth I and restore the Catholic church to power.
|1450||In 1450 Richard, Duke of York challenged the government failed and then succeeded in taking control in 1452 when Henry went mad. Henry VI's allies under Queen Margaret and the Duke of Somerset continued to oppose the Duke of York when the King regained his sanity|
|1453||The end of the Hundred Years war, the English are driven out of France as they run out of men and money to continue the fight|
|1455||The Duke of York defeats the Lancastrians at St Albans|
|1460||The Yorkist's led by the Earl of Warwick seized London in 1460 and captured Henry VI. The Duke of York claimed the throne but was only recognised as heir to the throne. He marched north but was killed in battle at Wakefield.|
|The Lancastrians marched on Northampton, defeated the Earl of Warwick and liberated the now mad again King Henry.|
|1461||The Yorkist's declared the Duke of York's son Edward as King Edward IV and he defeated the Lancastrians just outside York in April 1461 leaving Henry VI and other Lancastrians as fugitives.|
|1470||The conspiracies continued and the Earl of Warwick fled to France where with Lancastrian allies and the French King Louis they backed Warwick in an attempt to regain the throne. This he managed and ruled in Henry VI's name leaving Edward to flee to Holland.|
|Edward returned in 1471 and defeated Warwick at Barnet and the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury. By now all the leading Lancastrians were dead including Edward, Prince of Wales and Henry VI who was in the Tower of London.|
|1483||Edward IV dies suddenly, leaving his brother Richard Duke of Gloucester as regent for the young Edward V.|
|However, Richard had his own plans and he captured the young Edward, claimed the throne and is then thought to have had his nephews murdered in the Tower of London, though some think that this was done at the command of the Lord Thomas Stanley, Henry Tudor's stepfather.|
|1485||The murder of the young princes focused opposition to Richard and they looked to the last Lancastrian leader Henry Tudor to lead an invasion force against the King.|
|In 1485, at Bosworth Field, Richard was defeated and killed by Henry's forces under the command of the Earl of Oxford.|
|Henry claimed the throne by right of conquest and was proclaimed King Henry VII on the field of battle.|
|1486||Henry helped heal the rift between the Houses of Lancaster and York finally in 1486 when he married Elizabeth of York daughter of Edward IV|
|1503||James IV of Scotland marries Margaret daughter of Henry VII|
|1509||Henry VII dies and is replaced by one of England's most colourful kings Henry VIII who is perhaps best remembered for marrying six times in his attempt to produce a male heir to the throne.|
|His six wives were: -|
|1. Katherine of Aragon - married in 1509 and divorced in 1533|
|2. Ann Boleyn - married in 1533 (while still married to Katherine) and beheaded in 1536 accused of adultery|
|3. Jane Seymour - married in 1536 died after childbirth in 1537|
|4. Ann of Cleves - married in 1540 and divorced the same year|
|5. Catherine Howard - married in 1540 and beheaded in 1542 again accused of adultery|
|6. Catherine Parr - married 1542 she survived Henry who died in 1547|
|1513||James IV of Scotland invaded England in 1513 where he met and was heavily defeated and killed by the Earl of Surrey at the Battle of Flodden Field.|
|1536||Henry VIII dissolved all the remaining monasteries making him highly unpopular as they played a central part in peoples lives|
|1547||On Henry's death in 1547 his son (by Jane Seymour) became King Edward VI at the age of nine. Government was first entrusted to Duke of Somerset and later the Earl of Warwick|
|1553||Edward died at the age of 15 in 1553, Lady Jane Grey was nominated by Edward VI as his successor as he claimed his half sisters Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate.|
|Mary did not take kindly to this and began a rebellion in Norfolk claiming herself Queen, her support grew and she took the throne in 1553, Lady Jane Grey was executed.|
|1553||Mary was the daughter of Katherine of Aragon and was determined to return England to Catholicism. Mary married Phillip II of Spain. Mary had 300 people burnt at the stake for heresy including Archbishop Cranmer of Canterbury.|
|In France, England lost it's final possession, Calais in 1558|
|1558||Elizabeth I, the daughter of Anne Boleyn, took the throne on Mary's death in 1558|
|1559||Mary was married to Francis, King of France in 1558 and before her marriage she signed away Scotland's sovereignty declaring that if she died before her husband, Scotland would come under control of the French crown.|
|Luckily for Mary, in 1560 Francis died and his mother Catherine De Medici forced Mary to return to Scotland which, she had not visited since the age of 5.|
|On her return she was immediately embroiled in a conflict over religion in Scotland, Mary was actively Catholic in private but didn't oppose the Protestant religion.|
|Her major problem was her choice of husband, Henry Lord Darnley (her cousin) was not liked by many Scottish noblemen. This issue was brought to a head when Mary married Darnley in 1565. This also upset Queen Elizabeth.|
|In March 1566 Scottish nobles broke into Queen Mary's private chambers and killed her Italian secretary. Although Mary tried her best to reconcile the nobles, things only got worse and on 10th February 1567, Darnley now King Henry of Scotland was strangled and blown up in a house near Edinburgh.|
|Mary married again 3 months later to another unpopular suitor James, Earl of Bothwell (even though he was suspected of killing Darnley!). The nobles raised an army to challenge Mary who surrendered to them. She was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle and on 24th July 1567 was forced to abdicate, her one year old son James was crowned James VI.|
|Mary did manage to escape Lochleven 11 months later and raised an army but she was heavily defeated at the Battle of Langside in May 1568. Mary fled south and asked Queen Elizabeth to help her escape but Elizabeth instead had her imprisoned for the next 19 years.|
|In 1587 Mary was executed in Fotheringhay Castle after being found guilty of treason, she was 44 years old.|
|1569||Elizabeth was under almost constant threat from her opponents who tried to replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. In 1569 the Duke of Norfolk was imprisoned in the Tower, in 1571 the Ridolfi Plot, in 1583 the Throckmorton Plot and finally in 1586 the Babington Plot were all uncovered and all had the same aim - to replace Elizabeth with Mary and re-establish Catholicism across England.|
|1578||In 1577 Francis Drake left Plymouth on a 3 year voyage that took him round the world, he was knighted on board the Golden Hind by Queen Elizabeth in April 1581.|
|1588||Spain declared war on Elizabeth in 1585 when Spain became angry over her support for the Dutch Protestant rebellion against Philip of Spain and her authorisation of raids to be carried out on Spanish trade and colonies.|
|In 1588 Philip launched the Spanish Armada: 130 ships and 19,00 troops against England. The Armada harboured in Calais prior to their attack. This allowed the English under the command of Admiral Howard and his lieutenants Sir Francis drake and John Hawkins to send fireships into the Spanish ships inflicting heavy damage. Further damage was inflicted in a battle near Gravelines.|
|Weather conditions then conspired against the Spanish and they were forced to return to Spain via Scotland and Ireland, many of the ships were shipwrecked in the storms as they battled their way back to Spain. Further attempts were made in 1596 and 1597 but these too were stopped by storms.|
|1603||Queen Elizabeth I, the last of the Tudors died in Richmond Palace on 24 March 1603. She refused to name her successor but James VI of Scotland was crowned James I of England|