The Tudor Society

Henry VII

Henry VII

Henry VII

Birth: 28 January 1457
Death 21 April 1509
Rule: 1485-1509
Marriages: Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
Issue: Arthur, Prince of Wales; Margaret (consort of James IV of Scotland); Henry VIII; Elizabeth; Mary, Queen of France; Edmund, Duke of Somerset; Katherine. Only Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary survived childhood.

Henry VII, or Henry Tudor, was born on 28 January 1457 at Pembroke Castle and was the son of Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, and Margaret Beaufort. Henry's paternal grandparents were Owen Tudor (a former page to Henry V) and Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V and mother of Henry VI. His maternal grandfather was John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and his maternal great-grandfather (John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset) was a son of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and his mistress (and later wife), Katherine Swynford. It was from this Beaufort side of the family that Henry VII derived his claim to the throne. Lady Margaret Beaufort was only thirteen years old when Henry was born and she was already a widow, his father having died from the plague three months earlier while imprisoned by Yorkists. Margaret had been taken in by her brother-in-law, Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, the man who helped bring Henry up, who took him into exile in Brittany and who helped him win the crown of England.

Henry VII was the first Tudor monarch and he claimed the throne after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on the 22 August 1485. On the 18 January 1486, he united the Houses of Lancaster and York by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, a move which strengthened his monarchy and his future offsprings' claims to the throne. The marriage between Henry and Elizabeth was happy and successful, but Elizabeth died on her birthday in 1503 at the age of 37. She died from a post-partum infection and her husband was said to have been devastated. He had lost his eldest son Arthur in 1502.

Henry VII ruled for over 23 years and died on 21 April 1509, aged fifty-two, at Richmond Palace. He was buried in the Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey with his wife Elizabeth of York. His achievements include securing the throne and passing his crown unchallenged on to his son and heir Henry VIII; uniting the kingdom and bringing peace to England after decades of unrest; reforming and modernising government and the legal system, for example, establishing the Court of the Star Chamber; and restoring the Crown's fortunes.

(Taken from Illustrated Kings and Queens of England by Claire Ridgway, Tim Ridgway and Verity Ridgway)

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