The Tudor monarchs, who reigned England from late 15th century to early 17th century, were embroiled in a number of military conflicts. This was a time when England sought to reassert its control over its Continental holdings in European mainland and also to cement its control over Scotland and other parts of the British Isles.
Henry VIII, in particular, fought a number of battles both in European mainland and the British Isles. The English army at the time was equipped with conventional weapons and modernised gradually as gunpowder weapons became essential on the battlefield. The Tudor navy also played a vital part in helping the English monarchs keep their realm under their control.
Tudor ascent to English throne was marked by successes on the battlefield. The first Tudor monarch, Henry Tudor, was able to gain the throne after he defeated the Yorkist king Richard III at the fateful Battle of Bosworth Field. He then married Elizabeth of York which brought together the rival claims of the Lancastrian and Yorkist factions and made Henry Tudor the unanimously agreed monarch of England.
Tudors at the Wars of the Roses
Some of the most important wars fought during the Tudor era took place under the Tudor monarch, Henry VIII. Notable military ventures undertook by Henry included attempts to invade France where he won a victory at the 1513 Battle of the Spurs. However, despite initial gains on the Continent, Henry eventually had to sign a peace treaty and give up most of England’s land holdings in France by 1546, retaining the city of Boulogne.
The Catholic Scots to the North of England had become at odds with the English after Protestantism was officially supported under Henry. This led to a long war between the two kingdoms which resulted in a number of bloody battles and ended with Henry subduing Scottish resistance and cementing English control over the Scottish throne.
During the Tudor times, England had no standing army. Still, during Henry VIII’s numerous battles, he was able to muster a sizable army, as much as 30,000 at some of his battles. The European armies at the time were equipping their fighters with gunpowder weapons.
In contrast, the Tudor army in 1513 still relied primarily on longbowmen and billmen which proved nearly as effective against the gunpowder weapons of the enemy armies. Henry’s military strategy also involved securing English shores against any potential invasion from the Continent. To this end, he built a large number of forts all along the southern and eastern coasts of England.
The Navy became a vital part of England’s military arsenal during the Tudor times. The English navy properly came into being during the reign of Henry VIII. During his reign, the navy was expanded from 5 ships to some 80 ships and a number of shore facilities for navy ships were built. The navy proved vital in helping England ward off the pirates along its trade routes and in countering French attempts to invade Britain.