At this time, England became divided by a struggle for the English throne between two dynasties, Lancastrian and York, called The Wars of the Roses. There would be other rebels, but Henry stayed secure. Having defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field , gained parliamentary approval and married a member of his rival family, Henry was crowned king. He took part in diplomatic negotiations to secure his position, making agreements at both home and abroad, before instituting a reform of government, increasing royal administrative control and improving the royal finances.
He began using the Star Chamber in Westminster Palace to hear cases and appeals to provide people with access to justice.
British monarchy: The Tudors, 1485–1603
On his death, he left a stable kingdom and a wealthy monarchy. He had fought hard politically to establish himself and his family against the doubters and bring England together behind him. He has to go down as a major success but one totally overshadowed by his son and grandchildren. The most famous English monarch of all, Henry VIII is best known for his six wives, the result of a desperate drive to produce healthy male heirs to carry the Tudor dynasty forward. Another consequence of this need was the English Reformation, as Henry split the English Church away from the Pope and Catholicism in order to divorce.
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He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Edward VI. It's the wives that capture the headlines, particularly as two were executed and the religious developments divided England for centuries, leading to a question that just cannot be agreed upon: was Henry VIII a tyrant, a great leader, or somehow both? The son which Henry VI much desired, Edward inherited the throne as a boy and died only six years later, his reign having been dominated by two ruling councilors, Edward Seymour, and then John Dudley.
He is the great unknown in English history and could have changed the future of the nation in remarkable ways, such was the era. Lady Jane Grey is the great tragic figure of the Tudor era. She was executed in , having done little personally beyond being used by others as a figurehead. Mary was the first queen to rule England in her own right. A pawn of potential marriage alliances in her youth, although none came to fruition, she was also declared illegitimate when her father, Henry VIII, divorced her mother Catherine, and was only later brought back into the succession.
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