Tudor England was the period between 1485 and 1603 during which the Tudor dynasty ruled England. The Tudor rule significantly impacted the outlook of England, and influenced the society, politics, religion, economy and the intellectual orientation of the country very significantly. Notable among the Tudor kings was Henry VII, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
During the Tudor reign, England decisively shifted to Protestantism and the influence of the Catholic Church in the country ended. It was also during this period that England's relations with other countries of Europe evolved. Of more importance were England's ties with Scotland and Ireland during this period which impacted the future of English policy towards these regions in the future.
The Tudor King Henry VII married no less than six wives during his reign in the Tudor period and he was married to Catherine of Aragon his first wife for 24 years Read more about the Henrys Six Wives >>
A new class of wealthy citizens, usually merchants or courtiers in Tudor times built large houses, since the style of these constructions was more or less similar, they came to be called Tudor houses. Read more about the Tudor Houses >>
The Tudor dynasty ruled England from 1485 to 1603. They rose to power at the end of the long era of Wars of the Roses and brought stability and peace to the country Read more about the Tudors Timeline >>
The Protestant movement was launched by Martin Luther in 1517, in opposition to the hegemony of the Catholic Church over the Christian populations of Europe. Tudor rule in England was critical in augmenting this movement when Henry VIII decided to break ties with Rome in 1533. As a result, the King of England became the head of the new Church of England and had the power to appoint the Archbishop. He led the closing down of Catholic monasteries. The reign of Edward VI further cemented this transition. He had new prayer books and bibles published in English. Elizabeth I also lend support to this by definitively establishing Protestantism as the official religion of England.
Nobility in Tudor England
Nobility in Tudor England underwent significant changes. The Wars of the Roses which established Tudor dynasty on the throne of England led to the downfall of the conventional nobility of England. Many new persons and families rose to prominence as the new nobility under the favours of the Tudor monarchs. Wealthy members of the mercantile class also rose to power and prestige at the court. The themes of nobility changed from “honour, lineage and locality” to “obedience, civil society and the nation”. Membership of the English parliament also became a sign of nobility.
Parliament in Tudor England
During the Tudor period, the supreme power rested with the King and his privy council. The second in power was the parliament which, as a body, was very significant in important political matters. Parliamentary sessions carried weight and were considered important affairs by the population at large. Parliament was particularly active during the reign of Henry VIII although it had little in its power to do against the will of the King. However, the Tudor period saw the need of new legislation and parliament was often instrumental in devising and enacting such legislation.
Education in Tudor England
Education in Tudor England steadily became available to more and more people until the reign of Henry VIII. The key instrument in the expansion of education were the parish schools where local vicars taught the boys. Subjects such as English, Latin, catechism, arithmetic and Greek were taught at these schools. When Henry VIII abolished monasteries and the influence of the Catholic Church declined, education also took a hit. To counter this, Henry VIII had a number of schools established. Later, Edward VI overlooked the setting up of many grammar schools for poorer students.
English Renaissance in Tudor England
The beginning of the Tudor dynasty is often marked as the start of the English Renaissance. Renaissance spawned a movement of culture and art which gave England an altogether new intellectual dimension. During the Tudor period, some of the most notable names of English Renaissance such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas More and Francis Bacon existed. The Tudor monarchs were highly educated, and were often patrons of arts and also culture. Plays and playwrights became popular during the Tudor period. The English Renaissance is said to have reached its peak during the time of Elizabeth I, the final monarch from the Tudor dynasty.
International Relations in Tudor England
Although the founder of the Tudor dynasty, Henry VII, strove to establish amicable ties with other European nations, his dreams didn’t bear fruit. The reign of Henry VIII was fraught with wars with a number of other nations, most notably with expeditions against France. Relations with Spain also deteriorated in the later Tudor period and by the time of Queen Elizabeth I, England had adverse relations with both France and Spain. It was in Elizabeth’s reign that England began its aspiration as an imperial power, seeking to establish colonies in different parts of the world.
Irish Question in Tudor England
Ireland figured prominently in the policy of Tudor monarchs. It was in the Tudor period that at one hand, England firmly established its power over Ireland and at the other, it alienated most of the native population. A number of military expeditions were taken to consolidate English power in Ireland and these were coupled with incentives extended to Irish chieftains. However, with England predominantly shifting to Protestantism, the Catholic population of Ireland found itself at odds with England. This brewed up conflicts and clashes. Such dissent birthed in the Tudor era continues to influence the relations of England and Ireland to this day.
Naval power of Tudor England
During and after the Tudor period, England established its hegemony over other European powers most notably through its superiority at the seas. This superiority of the English naval power began during the time of Henry VIII, the second Tudor monarch. Henry VIII expanded the size of English navy from 15 ships to 45 ships during his reign. He also had the first naval dock in England established at Portsmouth.
Tudor England summary
Tudor England is considered, in many ways, the golden period of English history. The Tudors were patrons of art and culture which helped bring about the immensely significant English Renaissance. England, under the Tudor dynasty, grew politically and militarily, firmly annexing Ireland, defeating different European powers and seceding from the Continental influence of Catholic Church by establishing its own independent Church of England. The Tudor period established Protestantism as the official religion of England, marking the final departure of England from Catholic Church.