28 January 1457, son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Pembroke (deceased), and Margaret Beaufort, at Pembroke Castle, West Wales
30 October 1485, at Westminster Abbey, London
21 April 1509 at Richmond Palace, Surrey
18 January 1486 Elizabeth of York
Henry VIII (son)
enry’s mother was the great-great-granddaughter of Edward III through an illegitimate but recognized Lancastrian line. His Tudor father was half-brother to Henry VI, but with no English royal blood of his own. Against all expectations, Henry became the “last Lancastrian hope” after the legitimate English lines of descent had been exhausted.
Born to Margaret Beaufort Tudor when she was only 13 years old (and already a widow), Henry became the focus of his mother’s considerable ambitions and energies. She devoted her life to protecting and promoting her only son.
Henry was forced to flee to Brittany as a young teenager after Edward of York took the throne. He returned as champion of Lancaster, defeating Yorkist king Richard III at Bosworth Field. A new dynasty, the Tudors, now ruled.
Henry was crowned and then, as he had promised when he was seeking support for his invasion, married Elizabeth of York, oldest daughter of Edward IV. This theoretically ended the civil war between the houses of Lancaster and York.
In reality, Henry was never sure of his crown and was continually haunted by the specter of “pretenders.” Intent on firmly establishing his reign, and aware of the power of money towards that end, he instituted draconian and unprecedented measures of financial extortion. He also, however, brought peace and prosperity to England, breaking the power of the nobles and favoring the merchant and manufacturing classes.
In a bid for legitimacy for his new dynasty, Henry arranged the marriage of his oldest son Arthur to the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Arthur died the following year. Henry’s second son, another Henry, unexpectedly became heir.
Subtle, frugal Henry VII died in 1509, aged 42. His successor, the high-spirited, flamboyant and extravagant Henry VIII, would be a much different man and monarch.
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