Tudor England History
When was the Tudor period?
The Tudor period was one of the most exciting in English history it covers events in England throughout the 16th Century.
The Tudors were a Welsh-English family that ruled England and Wales from 1485 to 1603. Starting with the first monarch King Henry VII (1457–1509).
How long did the Tudors rule for?
The Tudors ruled for 118 years and Tudor England saw two of the most famous monarchs ever to sit on the English throne: King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I.
There were five Tudor monarchs, not counting Lady Jane Grey who ruled for just nine days.
The monarchs were, in order, Henry VII (ruled from 1485 to 1509), his son Henry VIII (ruled from 1509 to 1547), Edward VI, son of Henry VIII (ruled from 1547 to 1553), Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII (ruled from 1553 to 1558), and Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII (ruled from 1558 to 1603.)
The most powerful Tudor monarchs were Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, though she was far more beloved of the English people. Both were powerful personalities who were able to control their squabbling councilors and answer the demands of an increasingly vocal Parliament.
Under Henry VII, the English government came to be more stabilized and centralized. Under Henry VIII, English authority was tested on the Continent, though even military victories were too costly to maintain.
A great victory over Scotland early in his reign (1513) was most notable; the attendant confusion of its northern neighbor was beneficial for England. Henry VIII’s desperate quest for a legitimate heir led to the Reformation; this was the end of the Catholic church’s authority in England with the first Act of Supremacy.
The king, unable to obtain an annulment, declared himself Supreme Head of a new English church. He also sold or destroyed most church property in England.
His son, Edward VI, was just a child when he inherited the throne but already known for his piety and serious nature. His councilors continued to strengthen the Protestant state, but their plans were dashed when Edward died at 16 years of age.
An attempt to place his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne instead of the Catholic Princess Mary failed.
Mary was declared queen to great acclaim; she was originally very popular even with the Protestants. But a policy of religious persecution, a hated marriage with Philip of Spain, and bad agricultural conditions (as well as the debt she had inherited from her father and brother) soon made Mary broken-hearted and disliked.
She was succeeded by her half-sister, Elizabeth, who was a religious pragmatist and passionately devoted to her country. Elizabeth’s policy of toleration was extended to both the religious and political spheres. Above all else, she avoided extremism at all costs. She often prevaricated over major decisions, unwilling to commit to an action before all diplomatic attempts failed.
This infuriated many of her advisors, but it also gave her country the religious and political peace it needed to thrive. Her reign was marked by the great victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, the artistic achievements of men such as William Shakespeare and Sir Francis Bacon, and English exploration and colonization of North America.
- Mary, Queen of Scots
- Princess Mary Tudor
- Princess Margaret Tudor
- Lady Catherine Grey
- Arthur Prince of Wales
- Sir Thomas More
- Mary Boleyn
- Thomas Wolsey
- Thomas Cromwell
- Thomas Cranmer
- Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk
Visit the Tudor England FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions, including a brief history of Tudor England.
Test your knowledge of Tudor England at the Quizzes page.
PRIMARY SOURCES: Read eyewitness accounts of people and events in Tudor England, including letters written by the six wives of Henry VIII.
SECONDARY SOURCES: Read Biographies; Histories; Studies, etc about the Tudor era.
- Letter of Queen Katharine Parr to the Privy Council 25 July 1544
- Elizabeth I’s Letters About Mary Queen Of Scots
- Letter of Katharine of Aragon to the Imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys 1535
- Katharine Parr Letter to her stepdaughter, Princess Mary 20 September 1544
- Letter of Katharine Parr to her husband, King Henry VIII, July 1544