When the Wars of the Roses came to an end in 1485 with the victory of Henry Tudor, he became King Henry VII of England, the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty. With Henry VII, England saw a period of financial and governmental stability: the army, the navy and the State administration were reorganized and put under his control. He laid the foundation of English Humanism , married his son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon (the aunt of the future Emperor of Spain) and his daughter Margaret to James IV of Scotland.
Henry VII died of tuberculosis in 1509 and was buried at Westminster Abbey. He was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII. He was known for his love of hunting and dancing and for music. He married his brother’s widow after his father died. He was also proclaimed “Defender of the Faith” by the Pope for his allegiance to the Catholic cause against Martin Luther but during the second half of his reign he wanted divorce from Catherine of Aragon, who had failed to give him a male heir, and asked the Pope to grant it. The Pope refused and Henry VIII broke with the Church of Rome. This led to the “Act of Supremacy” in 1534: the Church of England was independent and the king was proclaimed the “Supreme Head of the Church of England.” Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony (she gave birth to Queen Elizabeth I). After the Reformation the lands of the old monasteries were confiscated and given to the new Protestant aristocracy linked to the Tudors. Under the king’s guidance England set herself against the great Catholic powers of Europe: France and Spain. Sir Thomas More, great humanist and king’s chief minister, refused to recognize the authority of the king and remained faithful to the Church of Rome. Because of this he was beheaded. Two of his 6 wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, were accused of being unfaithful and were sentenced to death.

When Henry VIII died, his son, Edward, a 9-year-old boy, succeeded to the throne of England with the title of Edward VI. His reign is characterized by radical Protestantism and religious intolerance. In 1553 Mary Tudor, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, became queen of England with the title of Mary I: she attempt to restore Catholicism in England. She’s also known as “Bloody Mary”, nickname given to Mary because of the number of Protestants burned for heresy.

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