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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  1. Robert E. Smith /

    Henry VII was one of my ancestors, his daughter, Margaret (Saint Margaret) married James Stewart IV of Scotland. Eventually to Midshipman George Stewart of the HMS Bounty and his only daughter with Peggy of Tahiti, managed to travel with an American Sea Captain George Washington Ayers of the Frigate Mercury in 1813. He abandoned her and their only daughter, and in 1817, she married into my Spanish ancestry of Santa Barbara. Bob Smith

    1. Gala Marshall /

      Cool–and very interesting!

  2. Queen bee /

    I have always been curious why hey v11 was allowed by the English people to become king. He was Welch with no royal blood from the tutor (who were basically barbaric ) and little from his psychic mother. He spend most of his youth and early adult hood in france and knew very little about the country he took by force with a gang of released prisoners from france. So I’ve always been curious why the English excepted him. Why didn’t they put the crown on elizabeth of york’s head where it belonged instead of forcing her to marry a dirty Frenchman. And that was what he was he lived there long enough to establish residency. The tutors certainty did not ever have the carisma or flare of loveability of the Yorks espec king edward. Just curious

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Henry VII won the crown by right of conquest, as others before him, and he did in fact have royal blood as he was descended from King Edward III. What you have to remember is that England had been torn apart by civil war for decades so I think the common people were just happy to have a stable and secure country.
      He spent his early life in Wales. He didn’t go into exile in France until 1471, at the age of 14, and he fled England with other Lancastrians.
      At that time, a woman was not seen as suitable to rule, hence Henry VIII’s later obsession with having a male heir.
      And the French aren’t dirty and Henry VII wasn’t French anyway, he was in exile in France.

    2. RealTudorLady /

      Hello Queen Bee

      Your comments are interesting but you have to remember that England was not a democracy, the monarchy was not chosen in a popular vote, most people probably couldn’t care less who was King, they had little say. Yes Henry Tudor had a French grandmother, but his father and grandfather were Welsh, Ancient Welsh as they came from a very old line on Anglesey. His mother was English although her parents had some French blood, but came from the line of John of Gaunt. Had Henry not won at Bosworth, which he did narrowly, he would have had difficulty in claiming the crown from Richard and his marriage to Elizabeth of York helped with his acceptance. While Elizabeth could have claimed the crown, she was not free to do so, she was under close watch until Richard iii returned as he intended to do. Elizabeth of York was a young woman who was in a difficult position, had been declared illegitimate, in a time when female succession was not easy, so was unlikely to be crowned as queen automatically without a husband with a claim to the throne. The people could have crowned Elizabeth but Henry’s victory and her own mother’s promise to marry Elizabeth to him gave him the more logical right. As a female, even one with the better claim, although her legitimacy was in question, unfortunately Elizabeth of York was disadvantaged in a world where female King’s just did not happen, not without a fight anyway. Our first Queen Regnant came over 80 years later and even then there was no choice, all the contenders for the crown were female and Mary I had to negotiate her status in the face of opposition from her council.

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