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Tudors and Stewarts

The Tudor monarchs are amongst the most well known royal family in English royal history. This is mainly due to the fact that the country was experiencing rapid changes during the reigns of the five Kings and Queens of the Tudor dynasty, which transformed the country and left a lasting legacy. It is also in part due to the interesting and quirky nature of the family itself which has captured the minds of the generations that were to follow.

The end of the War of the Roses brought Henry VII the first Tudor to sit on the throne. He was a shrewd King and restored the authority of the royal house and made it powerful enough to put down threats from aspiring noblemen and any resentful aristocracy vying for power that had plagued previous monarchies. Upon his death in 1509 his son Henry VIII became King at the age of just 17. Henry VIII is probably one of the most well known Kings of British History, made popular because of the story of him and his six wives. In his desperation for his wife to produce a male heir he went through unfathomable measures, he stripped his first wife Catherine of Aragon of the title of Queen after having the marriage declared void.

He then quickly married Anne Boleyn who gave birth to a daughter named as Elizabeth but the King lost patience with Anne and sadly she became the first ever Queen to be executed on lewd charges.
Jane Seymour became the his third wife and produced a male heir he so desperately wanted, Prince Edward but the birth was difficult and she died soon after giving birth. The next marriage was to Anne of Cleves but the marriage was annulled and soon married Katherine Howard but having been accused of being in the company of other men was executed. The last marriage was to Catherine Parr who survived having outlived Henry VIII who died in 1547 at the age of 55.

Regardless of the popular tales of his many wives and countless mistresses he had broken with tradition and severed ties with Rome which was to result in a bloody fight over religion.

Henry VIII left three children behind all of whom would get their chance on the throne, his only son Edward VI became king at the age of 9 in 1547 but died in 1553 at the age of 15 he suffered from ill health through out his life. Queen Mary I took over the throne and attempted to restore the Roman Catholic religion it led to the death of hundreds of Protestants who were burnt alive and gave birth to the popular saying of ‘Bloody Mary’. Her marriage to a Spanish prince was resented by many and her reign was not very popular. The fact that she bore no children meant Elizabeth I became queen and was the last Tudor to hold the throne.

Queen Elizabeth I reign saw a period of one of the most renowned changes to England; it was beginning to develop into the foremost European colonial power. The Tudor court played a prominent part in the cultural Renaissance taking place in Europe, nurturing all-round individuals such as William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser and Cardinal Wolsey.

The Tudor period also saw the turbulence of two changes of official religion, resulting in the martyrdom of many innocent believers of both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The fear of Roman Catholicism induced by the Reformation was to last for several centuries and to play an influential role in the history of the Succession. Elizabeth I backed the Protestant English Church. Having successfully seen of the Spanish Armada in 1558 she was immortalized in popular culture and thus her legacy is seen in more favourable light then her families. Having never married she is sometimes referred to as the virgin queen her rule set about the motions of having an Empire. Her death in 1603 saw time end for Tudors on the throne but the legacy that was left in doubt shaped the country in a way that had not been witnessed in previous centuries.

The Stewart family reigned for over 300 years in Scotland following a more contemporary path it turned Scotland into a more modern and a prosperous nation. Stewart monarchs such as King James IV and VI were Renaissance patrons of artistic, scientific, commercial, religious and political endeavour, sponsoring figures including the poet Robert Henryson and humanist George Buchanan to name but a few. It was through the Stewart dynasty that the two thrones of England and Scotland - and later the governments - came to be united.
The 'Marriage of the Thistle and the Rose' took place at Stirling Castle in 1503 between King James IV and Princess Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England.

This union of the Scottish and English Royal families eventually led in 1603 to the succession of a Stewart to the throne of England. James I proclaimed the union of the crowns and was the first monarch to bring together the kingdoms of England and Scotland and announce the birth of Great Britain.

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