What Was the Tudor Dynasty?

Mary McMahon

The Tudor Dynasty was a family dynasty which ruled England from 1485-1603. During its period under the rule of the House of Tudor, England underwent a substantial number of political, economic, social, and religious reforms which dramatically altered the future of the country and its people. Two of England's most well-known monarchs were members of the Tudor Dynasty: Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I.

The House of York was represented by a white rose.
The House of York was represented by a white rose.

The founder of the Tudor Dynasty was Henry VII, who emerged triumphant after the brutal Wars of the Roses which split England between the houses of Lancaster and York. This period of civil war is named for the symbols of the warring houses; Lancaster was represented by a red rose, while York was represented by a white rose. Henry VII, a relative of the House of Lancaster, managed to secure the throne in 1485, establishing the Tudor Dynasty, and he rapidly set about consolidating power in the hands of the monarch, stripping the nobility of many of their powers in the interest of avoiding future revolts and civil wars.

King Henry VIII of England was a member of the Tudor Dynasty.
King Henry VIII of England was a member of the Tudor Dynasty.

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Henry VII wisely married Elizabeth York, uniting the feuding houses, and he created a distinct symbol for the Tudor Dynasty: the Tudor Rose, which has both red and white petals, symbolizing unity. Henry VII was succeeded by his son Henry VIII in 1509; Henry VIII was in turn followed by his son Edward VI in 1547. After Edward VI's young death in 1553, Lady Jane Grey briefly held the throne of the England before being followed by Mary I, who was succeeded by her sister Elizabeth I in 1558. The Tudor Dynasty ended with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603.

The Tudor era was marked by a drastic shift from medieval British life. The Tudors managed to change England's religion, breaking with the Catholic Church to establish the Church of England, and they also improved the health of the nation's treasury while taking new approaches to issues like foreign policy. Some of the policies of the Tudor Dynasty were also quite progressive; Elizabeth I, for example, provided assistance through the state for people too disabled to work under the Poor Law.

After Elizabeth I died without issue, the great-grandson of Henry VII took over the British throne, establishing the House of Stuart, which united Britain and Scotland. The House of Stuart was ultimately dissolved in 1714.

The War of the Roses ended in victory for Henry VII, who founded the Tudor Dynasty.
The War of the Roses ended in victory for Henry VII, who founded the Tudor Dynasty.

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Discussion Comments


@Proxi414 (post2): I am very interested in your sentence "The Tudors actually ... came from a Cambro-Norman (Welsh Norman) dynasty."

Please, could you give me the references? -- Pierre


The Tudors actually originated in Wales and came from a Cambro-Norman (Welsh Norman) dynasty from which a lot of other dynasties claim descent, including the Irish FitzGerald dynasty. It is interesting to note how so much of royalty is interrelated and sprang ultimately from Germanic invaders who laid claim to a "right by might" throne.


Some in the North of England are still bitter about the civil war and complain about being treated as second-class citizens by those in the South. This is startling, since so much time has passed since then; but nevertheless resembles the continuing feelings in America among Southerners in relation to the victorious Northern Union.

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