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British kings and queens

Tudor kings and queens

King Henry VIIKing Henry VII

Henry VII (1485–1509)

Descended from the independent princes of Wales, Henry Tudor was the Lancastrian claimant to the throne of England occupied by Richard III, a member of the rival Yorkist family. Henry defeated Richard's forces at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. After the battle, Henry was crowned King Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England. Soon after he became king, Henry married Elizabeth of York, daughter of a previous Yorkist king, Edward IV. The marriage ended the rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York. To symbolize the union, he took as his badge the Tudor rose, which incorporated both the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster in one flower.

Plagued by conspiracies by others still pursuing a claim to the throne, Henry was a skilful king. He reduced the power of the troublesome nobility and increased the wealth of the Crown by enforcing royal taxes and pursuing peaceful policies. By securing treaties with France and the Netherlands and arranging the marriage of his daughter, Margaret Tudor, to James IV of Scotland, he secured peace with countries that might otherwise threaten England. He set up the Court of Star Chamber to deal with judicial matters, helping to significantly increase the power of the monarchy at the expense of the barons. He died of tuberculosis in 1509, leaving behind a secure throne and a prosperous country.

Henry VII was the first English king whose appearance we know from realistic portraits. As a young man, he was tall and slender, with blue eyes, bad teeth and fair hair.

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