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Henry VII


Black and white print of a portrait of King Henry VII
King Henry VII

When Henry was born it could hardly have been foreseen that he would one day be king of England, reigning for some twenty-four years. He was born at Pembroke Castle in Wales in 1457.

Henry's father was Edmund Tudor, who was a Welshman of Welsh royal lineage, and his mother was Margaret Beaufort, herself a descendant of Edward III.

Edward's third son, John of Gaunt had had several children with his mistress Katherine Swynford before he married her and Henry's mother was one of these illegitimate children.

Never has the royal lineage been as tenuous as this!

Guardian

Henry's father died before Henry was born and Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke became his guardian.

When Henry VI was murdered in 1471, Jasper protected the 14-year old Henry until the time was right for Henry to return from Brittany and make his claim to the throne. Henry landed in Wales in 1485 and gathered supporters.

Battle of Bosworth

The historic Battle of Bosworth was where the crown was truly won when Henry's forces overcame those of Richard III and Henry quickly claimed the right of kingship through the "right of conquest". He was crowned in 1485 at Westminster Abbey in London.

The Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster had been raging for years and Henry, from the House of Lancaster, wisely married Elizabeth of York, bringing it to a swift conclusion.

They were married in Westminster Abbey in 1486. The marriage further solidified Henry VII's claim to the crown as Elizabeth was the eldest child of the late Edward IV.

Realising his somewhat precarious situation Henry VII quickly set about establishing a powerful position and a strong government which displeased the nobility.

Following the lengthy wars, the treasury was bankrupt and through various taxes and strategic means he set about accumulating wealth. He not only strengthened the judicial system and his treasury but considerably strengthened the monarchy.

Henry VII and Elizabeth had four surviving children. The eldest was Arthur, heir to the throne. He married Catherine of Aragon at St Paul's Cathedral but died before becoming king.

Henry VIII

Second son, Henry was obliged to marry his brother's widow when he acceded to the throne. The story of Henry VIII, his desperation for a son and heir, and his subsequent divorce of Catherine of Aragon changed the history of England forever.

Henry VII and Elizabeth also had two daughters; Margaret, their eldest daughter became Queen of Scotland and Mary became Queen of France.

Henry VII died at Richmond in 1507 and was succeeded to the throne by his second son, Henry VIII. He was buried, like most kings before him, at Westminster Abbey in what is known as the Henry VII Chapel.

Henry VII may not be the best known Tudor King but he established peace and left the country in a much more stable and prosperous condition than it had been when he inherited it.

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