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Monarchy Rules: what happened to the House of Tudor?

An Allegory of the Tudor Succession
Yale Center for British Art [Public domain], Wiki Commons

Nine royal houses have ruled England since the Norman Conquest in 1066 and all of them have made their mark. But eight have seen their power pass elsewhere and this summer Royal Central is looking at what happened to those that have now faded into history. We now reach perhaps the best known of all the dynasties to claim the crown of England and ask, what happened to the House of Tudor?

The House of Tudor

The most talked about and quite possibly the most influential royal house in English history held power for just over a century.

After taking power following the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, Henry VII had made even more of an impact with a string of far reaching administrative and economic reforms as well as a ruthless attitude to dissent against his rule. His successor, Henry VIII, changed England forever with his church reforms and governmental initiatives.

The religious fervour of his longed for son, Edward VI, during his brief reign set the template for the middle part of the Tudor era. Henry’s eldest daughter became England’s first queen regnant when she took power as Mary I but it was the rule of her half sister, Elizabeth I, that would prove to be the apex of Tudor glory as new worlds, both physical and cultural, were conquered.

The Last Monarch

Elizabeth’s 45 year reign, the longest of any Tudor monarch, saw a new consolidation of royal power as well as a focus on overseas exploration that helped to cement England’s reputation as a global player.

The queen herself was renowned for her political prowess, administrative ability and cultural creativity and during her reign, her realm enjoyed a new stability which increased her royal power. However, Elizabeth was clear from early on in her rule that she would share her crown with no one and so she remained unmarried throughout her long reign.

The Last Consort

England was without a consort for almost half a century while Mary’s husband, Philip II of Spain, was a king in his own right. The actual last consort of Tudor England had been Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives, who had ruled considerable power during her three year marriage and who had been a major influence on Elizabeth.

The Fall

Elizabeth’s decision not to marry inevitably meant she had no heir of her own. As it became clear the Tudor line would run out with her plans began to secure the succession but Elizabeth herself never named a person to inherit her throne.

Instead, secret plans were made and on her death her cousin, James VI of Scotland, was proclaimed King of England, too. The son of her fellow monarch and rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, he began the process of uniting the two kingdoms.

The House of Tudor, that most famous and influential of English royal dynasties, was no more.

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton, a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. June has been a reporter, producer and editor, picking up several awards over the years. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.