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Tudors
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TudorsThe Tudors reigned over England as it transformed from a war-torn medieval kingdom into a dynamic, economically vibrant proto-modern state. For many historians, medieval England ends on Bosworth’s battlefield. Henry VII was a “managerial” monarch; Henry VIII a “Renaissance man”; Elizabeth I a woman of rare gifts, the inspiration to a nation broadening its horizons through exploration, investigation, innovation and an explosion of artistic talent.

Henry VII, invader turned banker, gave people the piece they needed after decades of civil war. His son Henry VIII dreamed of making England a Continental power and – while he pursued his dynastic ambitions – the English were left to better themselves economically. This was the age of the rising merchant class. Old medieval families found their influence at court challenged by a new breed of counsellors – such as the butcher’s son from Ipswich, Thomas Wolsey.

Tudors


Religion was the new battleground during the upheaval of the Reformation. Quarrels between Protestants and Catholics were mirrored in the conflicting policies of Henry VIII’s successors: his three children – Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. Elizabeth survived plots, perils and attempted overthrow by mighty Spain to reign long and gloriously. Yet there was a final irony. Her father married 6 times, desperate to secure the Tudor succession, but Elizabeth refused to marry at all. When, old and weary, she died in 1603, next in line for the English throne was the Stuart king of Scotland, James VI. The Tudor dynasty had proved to be a short but spectacular one.

Twin bastions against invasion
St Mawes Castle in Cornwall was built (1540-43) for King Henry VIII, to protect his realm from French invasion. On the other side of the River Fal is its twin gun-fort, Pendennis Castle.

Tudors


Dangers averted
A gold medal by Nicholas Hilliard of Queen Elizabeth I, made to celebrate the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Tudors




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