The War of the Roses and the Tudor Dynasty
The War of the Roses was born from a rivalry between the Lancaster and the York family. (The Lancaster family had a red rose as their emblem, while the York family had a white one.)
Henry VII (1457-1509), belonging to the Lancaster family, started the Tudor dynasty by marrying Elizabeth of York, and ended the War of the Roses.
His claim to the throne was weak, and he tried to consolidate his position: a treaty with France, a trade treaty with the Netherland and the diplomatic marriage in 1501 between his son Arthur and the spanish princess Catherine of Aragon.
His daughter Margaret married James IV of Scotland instead.
He preferred investing money shipbuilding in order to have a better navy rather than spending money making wars. In fact, he aimed at increasing and reinforcing England's trading position.
At Henry VII's death his son Henry VIII became king, because his older brother Arthur had already died.
Henry VIII was the typical renaissance king, a learned man, an athlete, who liked inviting poets and artists at his court. He was called the 'Golden Prince' for his natural good looks and his chivalry education, but he's also said to be very cruel.
To marry Catherine of Aragon, his brother's widow, he had to ask the Pope for a special permission.
Henry and Catherine had a daughter, Mary Tudor, but the king wanted a male heir. So, he asked the Pope for a permission to divorce Catherine and marry Ann Boleyn, his lover. The Pope refused and this defines the official break of England with the Church of Rome.
In 1534 the king declaired the act of supremacy and became the head of the english church.This meant that he had the right to appoint bishops, decide on articles of faith, and impose his will on the monasteries.
Monasteries were centres of learning, hospitals and schools for poor people, and they were rich because of the works of art and the lands they owned.
By closing them, many friars were unemployed and this increased the number of beggers.
The lands belonging to the monasteries were given to the supporters of the king or sold to the gentry. (rich land owners of minor aristocracy.)
Meanwhile, Ann Boleyn gave him another daughter, Elizabeth, so he decided to execute his wife.
Henry had all in all six wives, and one of them, called Jane Seymour, gave him a male heir, Edward.
In 1547 Henry VIII died, leaving the throne to his young and sick son Edward, who died soon.
During Edward's short reign, latin wasn't used during religious cerimonies anymore.
At his death, Mary I Tudor became queen. (1553)
She was a catholic fanatic, very upset because of her unhappy childhood and adulescence, in which she had always felt rejected by her father.
Philipp the II of Spain wanted to marry her, but the parliament didn't approve of it because they feared Philipp would submit England.
In the end she married him, but he had to respect two conditions: at Mary's death he wouldn't become king and Spain couldn't oblige England to fight a war.
She died of wombs tumor, without leaving any heirs.
At her death, both Elizabeth (daughter of Ann Boleyn) and Mary Stuart of Scotland (cousin of Elizabeth) claimed the throne.
Elizabeth was supported by protestants, while Mary was supported by catholics that considered Elizabeth illegitimate.
In 1558 Elizabeth came to the throne. She was a learned woman who spoke three foreign languages and had studied also Latin and Greek. She was skilled in politics as well. She remained unmarried, and used this as a political weapon, encouraging the hopes of European princes with whom it was important to keep on good terms.
Mary Stuart (catholic)
In 1558 she married Francis, king of France, and left Scotland to go live with him. She left french troups back home to rule the country.
They were very arrogant and treated Scotland like a colony.
John Knox, a calvinist, wanted to introduce protestantism in Scotland; helped by the nobles and secretly by Elizabeth, he managed to do it in 1560, at Francis' death.
Elizabeth had supported John because she didn't want Scotland to be a catholic rival.
When in 1560 Mary was sent back to Scotland, she was helped by Spain, France and the Pope to fight against protestant nobles, and she managed to re-introduce catholicism.
The Scottish army, suspicious that Mary had killed her second husband, fought against her, and won, leaving his son Edward VI to the throne.
Mary escaped to England, helped by her cousin Elizabeth, who imprisoned her in the tower of London.
While imprisoned, Mary plotted with the catholic nobles to overthrow Elizabeth; however the Queen refused to follow the Parliament's suggestion and didn't kill her cousin. In fact, Mary stayed imprisoned for 19 years.
Elizabeth's decision had political reasons; in fact, if she killed Mary, Spain would consider the murder an excuse to wage war on England, that wasn't ready to fight.
Meanwhile, english sea captains, like Francis Drake, were secretly encouraged by the queen in their piracy against spanish ships, and she took a share of the profits. The main pirates were Sir Francis Drake, knighted by the Queen herself, Sir Walter Raleigh, who founded the very first english colony in the USA (Virginia), and John Hawkins, that mostly traded slaves from Africa to America.
In 1587, when the english navy was strong enough, Mary Stuart was executed.
In 1588 the spanish navy, also known as the Invincible Armada, decided to invade England.
The English had faster, lighter and more modern ships, so when the spanish arrived at the Channel, also because of terrible weather, England managed to win, determinating the supremacy over the sea.
Elizabeth I died in 1603.