Dissolution of the Monasteries

Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury Abbey

King Henry VIII ascended to the English throne on the 21st April 1509, upon the death of his father; Henry VII.  On the 24th June 1509, Henry married Catherine of Aragon, his brother Arthur’s widowed wife, with dispensation to marry from the Pope.  She bore Henry, one child, a daughter; Mary.

The Reformation of Tudor England, came about when his desire for a son and heir to continue the House of Tudor, was not being fulfilled by his wife; Catherine of Aragon.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the son of a Suffolk wool merchant, made the request of the Pope, head of the Catholic Church in Rome, based on the fact that his wife, had failed to give birth to a son and heir.

The Pope denied the request… and Cardinal Wolsey was removed from his post by Henry VIII and died before being brought to trial on the charge of treason.

Thomas More was appointed Chancellor, but all too quickly he opposed the divorce, and Henry had him executed.

Henry’s wrangling’s with the Pope deepened so much that an act was passed by Parliament; “Act of Supremacy” in 1534 which confirmed England’s break with Rome, and the creation of the Church of England, with Henry at its head.  The Catholic Church in England, answerable to the Pope in Rome was no more.

Church officials were seen as rich figureheads, far removed from their spiritual roots, there to serve the people and help the poor.

Thomas Cromwell instigated a public campaign, making monasteries appear corrupt, and organised a census of ecclesiastical wealth for tax purposes in 1535.

In 1536 Henry needed money, but demanding new taxes against its people through Parliament to pay for wars with France, would meet many barriers.

Henry’s lavish lifestyle and funds to pay for wars, led to the “Dissolution of the Monasteries,” against these wealthy institutions.

The “Act of Suppression” of 1536 was aimed at monasteries whose income was less than £200 per year was closed.  Buildings, land and money confiscated by the Crown.  The “Second Suppression Act” of 1539 saw the dissolution of larger monasteries.

Monastic buildings were sold to wealthy gentry, who sympathised with Henry’s break from Rome, whilst other buildings were a source of building materials for local inhabitants.  Those who benefited the most, was not the King, for in his haste he sold much off at a fraction of its true worth.

So what happened to the Monks, Friars and Nuns?  Most received a pension for life, some joined mainstream churches.  As for their servants they were hardest hit.  With no money they joined the ranks of the poor and homeless.

When we think of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many priceless manuscripts, statues, rood screens and icons were destroyed; their historic value was never considered.

The infrastructure of Monasteries and Abbey’s within the Kingdom of Henry VIII had been largely destroyed and the association with the Pope, all but gone.

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Saxon King: Edward the Confessor


Edward the Confessor

Edward, the son of King Ethelred II and Emma of Normandy, was a direct descendant of King Alfred the Great.  Edward was educated at an English monastery, and when the Danes invaded, his mother Emma fled to Normandy with her children, and it was here Edward developed strong ties with Normans.

With the death of King Ethelred II in 1016, Emma returned to England and married the new Danish King: Cnut the Great.  The son of Emma and Cnut; Hardecnut succeeded his father as King and then proceeded to bring back his half-brother; Edward from Normandy to England in 1041.

Hardecnut, King of England died in 1042 and was succeeded by his half-brother Edward, who was crowned Edward the Confessor at Canterbury Cathedral on Easter Sunday.

Edward, King of England from 1042-1066, kept the kingdom in a state of relative peace.  However the latter years of his reign were plagued by who would be successor.

Edward, famous for his piety, was canonized in 1161.

His most lasting contribution to English history, was the building project that turned the Benedictine Abbey in Westminster into the great religious and political centre of the kingdom; Westminster Abbey.

Edward, may have been King, but he found it difficult to assert his own authority over the earls of his kingdom, especially one Godwin of Essex.  He who had been chief adviser to King Cnut, who had been rewarded with large expanses of land and much wealth.  Godwin’s influence across Edward’s kingdom, increased further when Godwin demanded that Edward marry his daughter; Edith.  Edward, needed Godwin’s military support and was forced into agreeing to this marriage.  Edith was the main pawn in Godwin’s game to rule England.

Edward appointed the Norman, Robert of Jumieges as the new Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051, and straight away this caused a rift with Godwin.

When Godwin failed to support Edward’s brother-in-law in a dispute with the citizens of Dover, Edward banished him, and promised William the Duke of Normandy, that he would be his heir, to the English throne.  In 1052 Godwin returned to England, and with support from the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, forced Edward to name Stigand as Archbishop of Canterbury instead of Robert of Jumieges.  Edward withdrew to concentrate on the building of Westminster Abbey.

Shortly before his death in 1066, he changed his successor to the English throne, from William, the Duke of Normandy, to Godwin’s son Harold.  As news reached William that Edward had died and the English throne had passed to Harold, William of Normandy invaded England, to claim what was rightfully his in the Battle of Hastings.

Edward’s death in 1066 precipitated the Norman Conquest that ended Anglo-Saxon rule and ushered in a new period of English history; The Dark Ages.

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Norman Monarchy

House of Normandy

The Normans originated from the Vikings who took up occupation in the early part of the 10th century in north-east France.  A powerful state was created around the mouth of the Seine.

In 1035, the Duchy passed to William, an illegitimate son of Duke Robert of Normandy, and anarchy reigned.  In 1047 he proved himself a skilled military leader, by defeating his enemies, and uniting the Duchy behind his rule.

William offered land hungry lords, large areas of England in return for military assistance to overcome Anglo-Saxon resistance.  Edward the Confessor had told William, that upon his death, the English crown would pass to him.  William expected resistance from the English, and was prepared to do battle, to claim what is his by right.

William the Conqueror

King William I

King William I:  The year 1066, became a turning point in England’s history.  William the illegitimate son of Duke Robert the Devil of Normandy invaded England, defeating King Harold II (Harold Godwinson) at the Battle of Hastings.  On the 25th December William was crowned King William I of England at Westminster Abbey.

Norman feudalism became the basis for redistributing the land among the conquerors, giving England a new French aristocracy, and a new social and political structure.

William faced Saxon revolt in the south, and responded by driving out Anglo-Saxon lords from their lands.  In the northern areas he created mass starvation by burning houses, barns crops and killing livestock.

His power and efficiency can be seen in the Domesday Book, a census for taxes, listings manors and shires across the land.

He appointed Lanfranc, an Italian clergyman to the post of Archbishop of Canterbury, and promoted church reform, with the creation of separate church courts, whilst retaining royal control.

King William I (William the Conqueror) died in battle at the French city of Mantes; his horse stumbled amongst the ruins, and he is unhorsed, causing a fatal stomach injury.  William was buried at the Abbey Church of St.Etienne, Caen.

King William II

King William II

King William II:  When William I died in 1087, he gave England to his second son, William II and Normandy to his eldest son Robert.  To his third son Henry, he left nothing, for he was supposed to enter the church.

William II ascended to the English throne upon the death of his father William I in 1087, and was crowned King William II of England on the 26th September at his coronation at Canterbury Cathedral.

William faced rebellion from his brother Robert, urged on by his uncle Odo of Bayeux, the revolt quickly collapsed.  William responded by waging war against Robert in 1089, laying claims to the lands of Normandy, and defeating him in battle.

William faced hostile opposition from Scotland in 1091, and was forced to take action, forcing Malcolm III, King of the Scots to acknowledge him as King of England and the lands of Scotland.  In November 1093, Malcolm III and his forces revolted, taking on the might of William II near Alnwick, where Malcolm died on the battlefield.

William was always at odds with the church, he being a practicing homosexual, his interest lay in the revenue the church raised, not the faith itself.

On the 2nd August 1100, King William II was killed when an arrow penetrated his lung in a hunting accident.  Walter Tirel, nobleman and friend of the King fired the fateful arrow, missing a stag and killing the king.  Tirel fled to France, fearful of his life.

King Henry I

King Henry I

King Henry I:  Henry, the third son of William the Conqueror received nothing at his father’s death, but thing’s changed, when his brother William was killed in a hunting accident, he swiftly moved being crowned King in a matter of a few days.

Henry’s brother Robert, landed on English shores in 1101, claiming he was the rightful heir of England.  Conflict was averted, Henry’s territories in Normandy passed to Robert, along with 2,000 marks a year.  In 1106, Henry invaded Normandy and captured Robert at the “Battle of Tinchebrai,” and imprisoned him for life.

In 1110 Henry created a financial counting system, a chequered cloth was used by the Royal Treasury, a central point for discussions on finance.

In 1121, Henry’s heir William died, and he had no male successor, and proposed his daughter Matilda would be Queen of England upon his death.  Henry’s barons swore an allegiance to Matilda, yet their promise was never kept.

In 1135 King Henry I died in Rouen, France and was buried at Reading Abbey.


King Stephen

King Stephen:  With Henry I dead, the last thing English barons wanted, was to be ruled by a woman, which led to conflict over succession…  So it was, on the 22nd December 1135, Stephen the nephew of Henry I seized the English throne with the backing of barons and nobles, and was crowned on the 26th December.

Henry had so desired his daughter should be his successor, the actions taken by Stephen, led to Civil War as to who should be the rightful ruler; Stephen or Matilda.

Matilda received support from King David I of Scotland, as he invaded English lands.  In 1138 Robert the Earl of Gloucester rebels against Stephen.  In 1141, Matilda was elected as Queen, but driven out of London by its people who wanted Stephen, prior to her coronation.

This Civil War was tearing England apart, as Henry’s Royal Government lay in tatters.  The church played one side against the other, extending its authority.  It all came to a head, under the “Treaty of Westminster.”  Stephen would remain king for the remainder of his life, and upon his death the English throne would pass to Matilda’s son, Henry Plantagenet and he would take the title; King Henry II of England.

In 1154, King Stephen of England died, and was buried at Faversham in Kent.

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Plantagenet Monarchy

House of Plantagenet

The Plantagenet Dynasty ruled England from 1154-1399, a period of 245 years by way of eight kings.  Henry II (Henry Plantagenet) came to the English throne with an Empire which stretched from the Scottish borders down to the Pyrenees.  He began his reign by destroying castles built by rebellious barons during Stephen’s reign, and then set about regulating the power of the church.  He introduced reforms, laying the foundation for the common law.

Yet Henry II will be most remembered, for the death of Thomas Becket in 1170, murdered on the altar of Canterbury Cathedral, by Henry’s own knights.

King Henry II

King Henry II

King Henry II:  Henry, the son of Matilda ascends to the English throne upon the death of Stephen, he who had stolen the position of England’s ruler, from the rightful heir; Matilda his mother.

In 1155, Henry appoints Thomas Becket as his Chancellor of England, and in 1162 he becomes the Archbishop of Canterbury.  In 1164 Henry introduced the “Constitution of Clarendon” placing limitations on Church jurisdiction over crimes committed by their own.

Henry and Thomas Becket started out as friends, but when Thomas Becket became Archbishop of Canterbury, all that changed.  From that day forth they were always at odds with each other, leading to the death of Thomas Becket in 1170.

In 1171-72 Henry invades Ireland and receives homage from the King of Leinster and other kings.  Henry is accepted by the Irish as Lord of Ireland, and the clergy are forced to submit to the authority of Rome.

In 1176, Henry creates a framework of justice, creating judges and dividing England into six counties.  In 1179, Henry gave the defendant, the right to opt for trial by jury or trial by combat.

In 1189, King Henry II died at Chinon Castle in Anjou, and is buried at Fontevrault Abbey in France.

King Richard I

King Richard I

King Richard I:  Henry II died on the 6th July in France and is succeeded to the English throne by his son Richard in 1189.  Within months, Richard left England, on the Third Crusade to the Holy Land.

Richard’s appointed Chancellor of England during his absence was William Longchamp, but Richard’s brother Prince John stepped in and removed him in 1191.

In 1192, Richard I is captured by Henry VI Holy Roman Emperor of Germany, and held for ransom.  Prince John had sought to be king, and with Richard’s imprisonment, this could come soon…   What John hadn’t bargained on was the people of England had raised the 100,000 marks to release their king.

Richard and John came face to face on the 12th May 1194.  John sought clemency for his actions in the King’s absence… Richard forgave his brother, and named him as his successor.

On the 26th March 1199, King Richard I of England died in battle at Chalus in France, and was buried at Fontevrault Abbey.

King John

King John

King John:  Prince John had previously acted as King during his brother’s absence, during the Third Crusade and fighting in France.  Richard I died in 1199, and John became King of England.

By 1204, following years of fighting, John had lost much of the French Empire, to King Philip II of France, land secured by his father and brother.

With the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1205, a dispute arose between King and monks, as to the rightful successor.

John alienated the Pope, by refusing to accept the elected replacement, Stephen Langton as the new Archbishop of Canterbury.  In 1207, Langton was consecrated as Archbishop in Rome, and a betrayed John expelled the Monks of Canterbury.

In 1208, the Pope issued a ban against England; no church services, except baptisms and funerals.  In 1209 John is excommunicated for confiscation of church possessions.  Then in 1212, the Pope declared John is no longer fit to be King of England.

King John believed he himself was the only ruler of England, but hadn’t counted on the power of the church and Rome.  John was forced to accept the authority of the Pope in England, or face war with France backed by the Pope… to remove him as King.

After years of fighting in France, John was defeated in 1214 by Philip Augustus at the “Battle of Bouvines.”  John returned to England to face his nobles and answer to them how he had lost their lands in France.

In 1215, rebellion broke out, which led to the signing of the “Magna Carta” at Runnymede.  The intention was to bring peace, but John didn’t abide by its terms.

King John fled north, and died on the 19th October at Newark Castle, and was buried in Worcester Cathedral.

King Henry III

King Henry III

King Henry III:  Henry was the son of King John, and ascended to the English throne, upon his father’s death in 1215, and crowned in 1216, aged nine.

With much guidance from William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke and Hubert de Burgh, the King’s Regents, Henry brought stability to England.

In 1227, Henry took control of the government and his kingdom in his name, retaining Hubert de Burgh as his chief adviser until 1232, when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for squandering royal money and lands.

In 1237 “The Treaty of York,” created an Anglo-Scottish border.

Henry’s reign was dogged by civil strife from England’s barons, led by Simon de Montfort who defeated Henry at the “Battle of Lewes” in 1264 and took Henry prisoner.

In 1265 Simon de Montfort took control of the government, and called the first elected English Parliament.  Simon de Montfort died in the “Battle of Evesham,” leading to Henry’s release.

On the 16th November 1272, King Henry III died at the Palace of Westminster and was buried at Westminster Abbey.


King Edward I a

King Edward I

King Edward I:  In 1274, Edward son of Henry III was crowned King Edward I of England, upon his return home from the Holy Land Crusade.

Edward would best be remembered for his conquest of Wales (1277-1283) through a number of bitter battles between England and the Welsh princes.

William Wallace wanted freedom for all Scots, and took on the mighty English forces.  In 1305 Wallace was betrayed by one of his own, captured and executed by the English.  In 1306 Robert the Bruce rebelled and was crowned King of Scotland.

On the 7th July 1307, the aged Edward I died at Burg-on-Sands, and buried at Westminster Abbey in a black marble tomb.

king edward I

King Edward II

King Edward II:  On the 25th February 1308, Edward the son of Edward I succeeded his father as King Edward II of England.

Edward was a practicing homosexual, who had many affairs during his reign, but his favourite was Piers Gaveston.  The Earl of Pembroke captured Gaveston and had him executed, for he was a bad distraction for the King.

His homosexual affairs saw his own wife take a lover, one Roger Mortimer.  Edward was forced to abdicate as King, in favour of his son Edward III with his mother Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer acting as Regents.  Edward II was murdered in Berkeley Castle upon the orders of his wife on the 21st September 1327, and was buried at Gloucester Cathedral.

King Edward III

King Edward III:  Edward ascended to the English throne on the 25th January 1327, after his father had renounced his throne, and ruled England with his mother; Isabella of France and her lover Roger Mortimer as his guiding regents.  Edward was crowned King Edward III of England on the 1st February 1327 at Westminster Abbey.

In 1330 Edward takes over power, as ruler of his kingdom, after three years of governing by his regents.  No longer was he prepared to be the face to his people, whilst his mother Isabella and Roger Mortimer plundered royal finances and lands.

Edward was convinced that his father was murdered on the orders of his mother… he wanted justice.

Roger Mortimer was executed, and as for his mother, he allowed her to live at Castle Rising, but never leave the grounds… she remained a prisoner for the rest of her life.

In 1332, he divided Parliament into two houses; the Lords and Commons, and English became the common language, replacing the Norman-French language.

He started the Hundred Years War with France, when he attempted to claim the French throne in 1337, as grandson of Philip IV.

In 1348 he founded the “Order of the Garter, and in 1351 adapted St.George as the patron Saint of England.

On the 21st June 1377, King Edward III died at Sheen Palace, and buried at Westminster Abbey.

King Richard II

King Richard II

King Richard II:  Richard the grandson of Edward III ascended to the English throne in 1377.  Being only ten years old, the young King had adviser’s to decide policy, as no regent could be agreed upon.

In 1380, he introduced the controversial Poll Tax, which led to the Peasants Revolt of 1381, led by rebel leader Watt Tyler.

In 1395, Richard invaded Ireland, creating an alliance between England and Ireland.

In 1399, Richard confessed before Parliament, of being unworthy to reign, and passed the English crown to Henry Bolingbroke.

King Richard II abdicated his throne in 1399, as an unfit king to rule his kingdom and people.  Richard was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire, where he died of starvation, and buried at Westminster Abbey.

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Lancastrian Monarchy

House of Lancaster

The Royal House of Lancaster consisted of three monarchs who would rule England and Wales between 1399: Henry IV – Henry V – Henry VI.

The house of Lancaster, was created from a branch of the Plantagenet Dynasty: King Edward III married Philippa of Hainault, and their son John of Grant married Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster.  Their first born, Henry Bolingbroke became King Henry IV of England, the first monarch of the newly created House of Lancaster.

King Henry IV

King Henry IV

King Henry IV:  Henry of Bolingbroke was not in line, to become King at the time of his birth on the 13th April 1367.  However, events changed when King Richard II was deposed by John of Gaunt, Henry’s father and former Regent to Richard II.

Henry’s cousin, King Richard II, son of Edward the Black Prince and grandson of Edward III, became a child King in 1377 aged just ten.

Henry joined the “Lords Appellants,” in 1386, they who outlawed many of Richard’s closest associates, forcing the King to accept counsel.  By 1388, many of Richard’s friends and adviser’s had either been executed or exiled.

Richard sought revenge, against members of the Lords Appellants, watching and waiting to take his revenge.  In 1389, Richard discharged his counsel, and ruled England as King.

In 1390 Henry joined the Teutonic Knights, and in 1392, joined the crusades to the Holy Land, before returning to Richard’s political court.

In 1398 Henry Bolingbroke questioned Richard’s rule and Thomas de Mowbray, interpreted it as treason, and challenged him to a duel.  Richard stopped the duel, and banished Henry to France for ten years, seizing his lands, and exiled Mowbray for life.

In 1399, Henry’s father, John of Gaunt died, and Richard seized the family estates…  Henry had been deprived of his inheritance.  Richard had thrown down the gauntlet, if you want your inheritance, you have to come before me, and beg for what is yours.

Richard’s actions had dire consequences, for Henry Bolingbroke landed at Ravenspur in Yorkshire, with a French army.  Richard was captured and confessed before Parliament of being unworthy to reign as England’s King, surrendering his crown in August 1399 to Henry Bolingbroke.

Henry was crowned on the 13th October, and his first issue, was what to do with Richard II.  He was imprisoned in Pontefract Castle, and died of starvation on the 14th February 1400.

As Henry’s health began to deteriorate, a power struggle evolved between Thomas Arundel, Henry’s half brother and his son Prince Henry.  The struggle led to arguments about France and the Civil War.  Prince Henry wanted war with France, whilst Henry his father favoured peace.

On the 20th March 1413, King Henry IV died and was buried at Canterbury Cathedral.

King Henry V

King Henry V

King Henry V: King Henry IV died on the 20th March 1413, and was succeeded by his son Prince Henry, who was crowned King Henry V of England on the 9th April 1413.

The first battle of his reign was in 1414, with Sir John Oldcastle and Sir John Acton, known heretics.  Along with their band of followers, they made war against the Church, Priests, King and Kingdom.  The rebels were seized close to Westminster, and crucified, as for their leaders they underwent days of torture, until death was a blessing.  King Henry V had achieved victory against these heretics for Church, Priests and their faith.

On the 14th August 1415 Henry landed near Harfleur at the mouth of the Seine, where an encounter took place between English and French troops, where England was the victor.

On the 25th August 1415, one of the most famous battles took place, between the English and the French: the “Battle of Agincourt,” where the English became victorious over the French forces, thanks to the English longbow… Henry had demoralised the French, and laid the path for subsequent triumphs in France…

In 1420, King Henry V was officially recognised as heir to the French throne as agreed by the “Treaty of Troyes.”  The treaty was cemented with his marriage to Catherine of Valois, daughter of King Charles VI.

The Treaty of Troyes placed Henry in control of France for the  remainder of Charles VI’s life and promised that the English line would succeed to the French throne.

On the 31st August 1422, King Henry V died at Bois de Vincennes, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on the 7th November 1422.

King Henry VI

King Henry VI

King Henry VI: Henry was born on the 6th December 1421 at Windsor Castle, to parents Henry V and Catherine of Valois.  He ascended to the English throne, on the 1st September 1422, and was crowned King Henry VI of England on the 6th November 1429 at Westminster Abbey.

John, the Duke of Bedford was appointed his Regent of France, and Humphrey the Duke of Gloucester his Regent of England.

On the 29th April 1429, English forces at the Siege of Orleans, witnessed the peasant girl, Joan of Arc, leading the French forces, giving them the will to fight.  On the 23rd May 1430, Joan of Arc was captured at Compiegne, put on trial and found guilty of witchcraft.  Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake as a heretic on the 30th May.  Joan of Arc legacy to her people, she had created a French army with the will to fight, and England’s position in France became increasingly precarious.

On the 16th December 1431, Henry became King of France, and in 1437, he took over power of England.

In 1453, the houses of Lancaster and York started a feud, and in 1454 Richard the Duke of York, is named Regent and Protector of the realm during Henry’s mental breakdown.  He sees his chance, and makes a claim towards the throne.

Henry VI recovers from his illness, and it is left to his wife Margaret of Anjou to dismiss Richard, the Duke of York from Henry’s court.  The Lancastrians aided by Margaret of Anjou had regained power.

The Duke of York raises an army in 1455 defeating the Kings Lancastrian army at the “Battle of St.Albans” on the 22nd May.

The Duke of Somerset, the Lancastrian leader is killed in battle as the Duke of York takes over England’s Government.

On the 10th July 1460, Yorkist army led by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick clash with Lancastrian forces.  King Henry VI is captured, and Richard, the Duke of York is England’s Protector once again.

In October 1460, the “Act of Accord” named Richard, the Duke of York as successor to the English throne.

Richard, the Duke of York is killed at the “Battle of Wakefield” by Lancastrian forces, and so it was, his son pressed home his claim for the English throne.

Queen Margaret and her Lancastrian army heads south, defeats the Earl of Warwick at St.Albans, releasing Henry VI.

Edward of York defeats Margaret’s Lancastrian forces on the 29th March 1461 at the “Battle of Towton,” and Henry VI and Margaret flee to Scotland, as Edward declares himself King Edward IV.

In 1470 a rebellion led by the Earl of Warwick, and the Duke of Clarence, failed forcing them to take refuge in France and make an alliance with Margaret of Anjou… The French supported an English invasion, led by Margaret, Warwick and Clarence.

King Edward IV fled as news reached him that the Duke of Clarence, had changed sides supporting the Lancastrians.  On the 3rd October 1470, King Henry VI was reinstated as England’s King.

On the 14th April 1471 at the “Battle of Barnet” King Edward IV is triumphant, and King Henry VI is imprisoned in the Tower of London.

On the 4th May 1471, the Lancastrian line is all but destroyed, as Edward, the Prince of Wales is killed in the “Battle of Tewkesbury.”  Queen Margaret and her daughter-in-law Anne Neville are taken prisoner.

On the 22nd May 1471, King Henry VI prisoner at the Tower of London is murdered, stabbed to death and buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

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Yorkist Monarchy

House of York

The Royal House of York, consisted of three monarchs; Edward IV – Edward V – Richard III, becoming the ruling house of England and Wales from 1471 until 1485.

King Edward IV

King Edward IV

King Edward IV:  For the first nine years of Edward’s reign, he acted as Regent King for the mentally ill Lancastrian King; Henry VI.  Those early years consisted of constant battles, maintaining order between warring factions of the House of York and aggressors of the House of Lancaster.

With Henry VI dead, Edward was crowned King of England in 1461.  His arch enemy Margaret of Anjou, wife of the late King Henry VI was immediately arrested, and later returned to France.

The Wars of the Roses, which had taken place between the Lancastrians and Yorkists, meant Edward ruled a peaceful land.

On the 9th April 1483, King Edward IV died, and was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

King Edward V

King Edward V

King Edward V:  Edward was born in 1470, in the sanctuary of Westminster Abbey, for his parents Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, feared attacks by Lancastrian supporters.

In 1483, Prince Edward was informed his father’s death was close at hand, and on the 30th April was escorted to the Tower of London, as the future King of England.  On the 16th June, Edward’s brother, Richard Duke of York, was also moved to the Tower of London.

Deceit was at hand, as Richard the Duke of Gloucester made his play for the English throne.

Evidence was produced before Parliament, by Philippe de Commines, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, that Edward V had married another, before his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville.

Parliament agreed with Richard, that the young princes be illegitimate, and Richard the Duke of York would be England’s next King.

The young Edward V and his brother Richard the Duke of York were declared illegitimate, and these young princes slowly disappeared from sight, becoming prisoner’s at the Tower of London.  It wasn’t long before they disappeared all together, believed to have been murdered upon the orders of Richard.

Richard III Facial Reconstruction

King Richard III

King Richard III:  Richard Plantagenet, son of Richard the Duke of York, was born in 1452 and by 1483 had seized the English throne through deceit, from the rightful heir; Prince Edward.

Richard III, instigated the first ever execution to be held at the Tower of London, and in 1483 held the post of Lord Protector of the Prince of Wales upon the death of his father.

Richard suffered personal losses in 1484, with the death of his son Edward of Middleham, and in 1485, his wife Anne Neville died.

Richard’s reign was overshadowed by the constant threat of a Tudor invasion.  A few months after the death of his wife, Richard clashed with Tudor forces on Bosworth Field, where he was defeated and killed.

His naked body was first buried at Greyfriars Church, and later tossed in the river after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, by an angry mob.  He would have to wait some 500 years before his remains would be buried in Leicester Cathedral in 2015.

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Tudor Monarchy

House of Tudor

The Yorkist King, Edward IV overcame Lancastrian forces at the “Battle of Tewkesbury” in May of 1471.  The Lancastrian heir to the English throne, Edward Prince of Wales died in battle, and shortly thereafter, Henry VI was murdered in the Tower of London.

Henry Tudor became the last Lancastrian heir and threat to the Yorkist dynasty.  When Edward IV attempted to capture the fourteen year old Henry, only one option laid open to him…/ flee his home, go into exile at the Count of the Duke of Brittany, waiting for his time to come… and it would.

For fourteen long years, Henry remained in exile, waiting; and the opportunity came with the death of King Edward IV of England, on the 9th April 1483.  Edward’s brother, Richard the Duke of Gloucester, usurped the English throne that should have gone to Edward’s nine year old son.  Within months, Richard had been crowned King Richard III of England, and Edward’s sons, the two young princes had been murdered, possibly under the order’s of Richard III.

On the 25th December 1483, Henry took a solemn oath in Rennes Cathedral, that he would take Elizabeth of York, as his wife and Queen.  Yorkist’s paid homage to Henry in return.

King Henry VII

King Henry VII

King Henry VII:  King Henry VII:  Henry was born on the 28th January 1457 to parents Edmund Tudor the Earl of Richmond and Margaret Beaufort at Pembroke Castle in Wales.

Henry VII possessed only his ability and the ancient name and audacity of his welsh ancestors.  His grandfather had married the widow of Henry V, and his father had Margaret Beaufort, an illegitimate descendant of Edward III.  Henry’s only claim to the English throne was his victory at the “Battle of Bosworth,” defeating the English forces and killing of Richard III.

The Tudors gave England the government it so wanted, and they got the reputation of not pushing its subjects, where they were not ready to follow.

He gained much recognition from abroad; Spain in 1489 with the Treaty of Medina del Campo, and then from France, Netherlands and Scotland.  He restored a strong government, promoted English trade which he could tax, avoided overseas wars and saved money.

On the 21st April 1509, King Henry VII the first Tudor Monach of England, died at Richmond Palace, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII:  Henry was crowned King Henry VIII on the 24th June 1509 at Westminster Abbey.  During his reign, he was responsible for the formation of the English Navy and the construction of shipyards on the River Thames.

Henry was an ambitious and bold King, different in many respects to that of his father; Henry VII.  He received much praise from the likes of Thomas More, who served in his government.

In 1513, Henry won the “Battle of the Spurs” in France and overcome the Scots at Flodden.

In the years 1514-1529 Thomas Wolsey served as his Chancellor and Archbishop of York.

Henry’s desire for a male heir blighted his reign… leading to many Queens in his quest.  Catherine of Aragon, bore him six children, but only one survived infancy; Mary I.  Anne Boleyn his next quest, led to the creation of the Church of England, and a daughter: Elizabeth I.  Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour gave birth to a son; Edward VI.

Thomas Cromwell oversaw the revolutionary changes of the 1530’s; Henry’s break from Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

King Henry VIII died on the 28th January 1547 at the Palace of Whitehall and was buried at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle alongside his third wife,; Jane Seymour.

King Edward VI

King Edward VI

King Edward VI:  Edward VI was born on the 12th October 1537 at Hampton Court Palace to parents Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.  He was crowned King Edward VI of England on the 20th February 1547.

Edward’s reign was overseen by a Regency Council, headed by Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset until his death in 1553, and from then by John Dudley, the Earl of Warwick.

During Edward’s short reign, he will be remembered for the introduction of the “Book of Common Prayer,” as still used today.

In 1549, an act was passed “The First Act of Uniformity” making Roman Catholic Mass illegal.

On the 6th July 1553 King Edward VI died at Greenwich Palace, and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

On the 6th July 1553, King Edward VI of England died at Greenwich Palace.  On the 9th July, Bishop Ridley stated that contenders to the English throne, Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate by right of birth.  Then on the 10th July, proclamation of the death of King Edward VI was announced.

Lady Jane Grey - Wikipedia

Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey:  Lady Jane Grey was born in October 1537 at Bradgate Manor, Leicestershire to parents Henry Grey, Marquis Dorset and great grandson of Queen Elizabeth and her mother was Frances Brandon, Duchess of Suffolk.

On the 21st May 1553, she married Lord Guildford Dudley, not by choice, but by request of her mother.

The Dudley’s were Protestant nobles, and as Protestant’s they feared, Mary a devout catholic, could become Edward’s successor, and so it was under pressure, his will was changed to include Lady Jane Grey as his Protestant heir.

Edward died on the 6th July 1553, and Lady Jane Grey made her claim to the English throne, by right of Edward’s will and that her grandmother; Mary Tudor was the sister of Henry VIII.

On the 3rd August 1553 Mary the people’s choice and her followers entered London; she was dressed in purple velvet and satin, receiving rejoicing from the people who had lined the streets to greet her… their new Queen.

On the 12th February 1554, Lady Jane grey and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley were beheaded at the Tower of London.  Lady Jane Grey’s body was buried in the chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula within the Tower of London.

Queen Mary I

Queen Mary I

Queen Mary I:  Mary was born on the 8th February 1516 at Greenwich Palace to parents Henry VIII and Catharine of Aragon.  When Edward VI died, she seized the crown, from the newly crowned Queen; Jane Grey, Edward’s chosen successor,  ascended to the throne on the 19th July 1553.  On the 12th February 1554, Jane Grey and her husband Guildford Dudley were executed at the Tower of London, on the orders of Queen Mary I.

In the autumn of 1554, Mary overturned acts relating to the church, and in turn, returned England to Roman Catholicism.  Many Protestant Bishops were persecuted, and some three hundred were burned at the stake.

Queen Mary I of England died on the 17th November 1558 at St.James Palace and was buried on the 14th December at Westminster Abbey.

This Queen who ruled for only five years, had attempted to return England to its Catholic roots of the past … she who was true to her faith, her beliefs.

What will she be remembered for?  Her mass burning of Protestants, who refused to turn to Catholicism.

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I:  Elizabeth was born on the 7th September 1533 at Greenwich Palace to parents Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.  She ascended to the English throne on the 17th November 1558, following the death of her half-sister, Queen Mary I, and was crowned Queen Elizabeth I of England at Westminster Abbey on the 15th January 1559.

Elizabeth would have been well aware, what this new position in life held.  She knew, she was considered an illegitimate child in the eyes of some of her Catholic subjects.  For they believed, Mary, Queen of Scotland, the Catholic daughter of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise, also the great niece of Henry VIII, gave her claim to the English throne.

Therefore if Elizabeth had died, Mary would have ascended to the English throne.  Whilst Mary lived an assassination on Elizabeth’s life, by supporters loyal to Mary existed.

Elizabeth dismantled Mary’s Catholic England, and on the 29th May 1559 Edmund Grindal became the new Protestant Bishop of London.  One by one, Catholic churches suppressed making way for Protestant England.

On the 19th June 1566, Mary, the Queen of Scots bore a son, baptised according to Catholic rites, and the child was named James, and Elizabeth was his godmother.

On the 29th July 1567, 13-month-old heir to the Scottish throne was crowned King James VI, after his mother, Mary had abdicated on the 24th July under duress.

On the 2nd May 1568, Mary escaped from Lochleven Castle, and on the 16th May crossed the border into England.

In the October of 1586 Mary was put on trial at Fotheringale Castle for plotting against the Queen’s life.  On the 25th October she was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

On the 8th February 1587, Mary, Queen of Scots, she who sought support from England, yet being a conspirator against the life of Elizabeth lost her own life.  Spain replied on the 19th July 1588, with the Spanish Armada.

Elizabeth had not married, she had no off-spring this Virgin Queen … it was just a matter of time for James, to wait for Elizabeth to die.

On the 24th March 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died at Richmond Palace and was buried at Westminster Abbey on the 28th April, alongside her half-sister Queen Mary I.

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