- Tudor, House of
- (1485–1603)As a result of the WARS OF THE ROSES, the Welsh house of Tudor succeeded to the English throne in 1485.The family originated in northwest Wales, where it had held property since at least the thirteenth century. The Tudors traced their ancestry to Ednyfed Fychan (d. 1246), steward to the Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great. About 1420,Owain ap Maredudd (Owain son of Maredudd), a descendent of Ednyfed Fychan, came to England and anglicized his name to Owen TUDOR (from Tudur, his grandfather’s name), perhaps to avoid the civil disabilities placed on Welshmen by English law. He obtained a position in the household of Catherine of Valois, the widowed queen of Henry V (r. 1413–1422), and mother of HENRY VI. Catherine soon fell in love with her servant, and the two were married secretly because the COUNCIL that governed for the young king would never have sanctioned a marriage between the Queen Mother and an obscure Welshman. The union produced several children, who remained in their mother’s care until her death in 1437.Although half siblings of Henry VI, the Tudor children had no English royal blood and no place in the English succession. In 1452, Henry VI, who had no full siblings and was then childless, brought his half brothers Edmund and Jasper (see entries for both under Tudor) to court, endowed them with property, and raised them to the English PEERAGE as earl of Richmond (Edmund) and earl of Pembroke (Jasper). To tie the Tudors more closely to the royal family, Henry married his cousin Margaret BEAUFORT to Richmond in 1455. Besides having a distant claim to the throne through the BEAUFORT FAMILY’s connection with the house of LANCASTER, Margaret was also a wealthy heiress. In January 1457, three months after Richmond’s death, Margaret gave birth to a son, who was named Henry in honor of the king. In 1471, Prince EDWARD OF LANCASTER and Edmund BEAUFORT, fourth duke of Somerset, died at the Battle of TEWKESBURY, and Henry VI, his life no longer protected by his son’s, was murdered in the TOWER OF LONDON (see Henry VI, Murder of). These deaths ended the direct male lines of Lancaster and Beaufort and made Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, the surviving male heir of both families. From 1471 to 1483, Richmond, accompanied by his uncle Pembroke, lived in exile in BRITTANY; with the house of YORK firmly established on the throne, his prospects of becoming king were slight.However,RICHARD III’s usurpation of the Crown, followed by his probable murder of EDWARD V and his brother, forged an alliance of Lancastrians and disaffected Yorkists that plotted to enthrone Richmond (see Princes in the Tower; Usurpation of 1483). Despite the failure of the autumn 1483 uprising known as BUCKINGHAM’S REBELLION, a growing number of English exiles joined Richmond in FRANCE, from where he launched a new invasion in 1485. On 22 August, Richmond won the Crown at the Battle of BOSWORTH FIELD, becoming HENRY VII, first king of the house of Tudor. By marrying ELIZABETH OF YORK, daughter of EDWARD IV, Henry ensured that his children would be descendants of both Lancaster and York. The Tudor dynasty ruled England for 118 years, until 1603. Henry VII was succeeded by his son, Henry VIII (r. 1509–1547), and by three grandchildren— Edward VI (r. 1547–1553), Mary I (r. 1553–1558), and Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603).Further Reading: Chrimes, S. B., Henry VII (New Haven, CT:Yale University Press, 1999); Griffiths, Ralph A., and Roger S. Thomas, The Making of the Tudor Dynasty (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985).
Encyclopedia of the Wars of the Roses. John A.Wagner. 2001.