The Tudors -

Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary & Elizabeth

queen elizabeth

king henry 8th Henry VIII, who come to the throne in 1509, was a man who left his stamp on history. His six marriages in search of a male heir led to two daughters (Mary and Elizabeth) and a son Edward (who died young). Henry's need for a divorce led to a row with the pope who refused to grant Henry one. Henry countered by dissolving the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, and setting up the Church of England
execution block
A Church of England with Henry at the head could then allow Henry to divorce his wife. Of the Six the pneumonic goes - divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. He divorced the two European wives, Anne of Cleeves and Catherine of Aragon. The English ladies were more easily dispensable

Henry was a tyrant and a despot. Completely ruthless, and he let nothing and nobody get in his way.Cardinal Wolsey was banished, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More were executed

dissolution of monastries One other bonus for Henry from his split with Rome was that he gained control of the monasteries - the monastic buildings and land were sold off after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. Many of the buildings fell into decay, and they lost their farmlands for ever.
myrters queen mary
Henry's elder daughter Mary was a Catholic - and a militant Catholic at that. her efforts as queen to restore Catholicism to England made her the most unpopular queen in British history> and the means that she used to pursue her aims earned her the nickname "bloody Mary". There were 283 Protestant martyrs burnt at the stake in her reign. Among the martyrs were Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury), Ridley (Bishop of London) and Latimer ( a leading preacher)

A loveless marriage to the King of Spain produced no children. So when Mary died she was succeeded by her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth.

Elizabeth's reign brought in one of the most glorious eras of British history. Exploration, colonisation, victory in war, and growing world importance. The Arts flourished, this was the age of Shakespeare and Bacon. It was the age of the sea dog, Drake and Raleigh, Hawkins and Frobisher But as with her sister, plots against the queen were mounted - Mary Queen of Scots, was finally executed in 1587- the Earl of Essex, a former favourite, was executed for leading a revolt in 1601. And the wars against Spain and in Ireland were expensive - she was 400,000 in debt when she died
Drake's voyage round the world in the Golden Hind started in 1577 and took 3 years. Though he did not find Australia or the north west passage, he brought back great wealth from raids on the Spanish possessions in the Pacific and from cargoes of spices. Drake was the first Briton to sail round the world
Eventually there was all out war with Spain. Philip of Spain assembled the largest fleet the world had seen, and in 1588 it set sail to invade England. The smaller, more maneuverable English ships harried the Spanish armada all the way up the English Channel. But the Armada reached Calais and anchored. The English sent in fireships (crammed with burning tar and gunpowder). This forced the Spanish to cut anchor and scatter. The power of the Armada had been in its tight disciplined formation that the English could not break. Now it was just a collection of individual ships. The Spanish ships made their way back home to Spain via the north of Scotland and down the Irish coast. 50 ships and 20,000 men perished. Spain was humiliated on the world stage
This was also the England of Shakespeare, Marlow and Bacon. Shakespeare left Stratford upon Avon in 1587, and by 1599 he was the part owner of the Globe playhouse in London. He wrote his plays while in London, and retired to Stratford in 1611, where he died in 1616 shakespeare

The Spanish wars had crippled the English exchequer, inflation soared, and in 1601 Elizabeth had to go to Parliament to get more money. Sensing hostility, as Parliament was angry about the privileges she had granted her favourites, she gave way graciously, and gave a "Golden Speech" which became in later years a model for the relationship between monarch and the nation - with obligations on both sides.

A few months later came news of the defeat of the long running battle against the rebels in Ireland. But by now Elizabeth's health had declined, and she was dying. The choice of successor was not straightforward, as she was the last of Henry VIII's children and none of them had any children themselves. Elizabeth delayed making her choice of successor until she was on her death bed. Her successor would be James Stuart, King of Scotland, and son of Mary Queen of Scots, whom Elizabeth had executed as a traitor.

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