Henry VII Fact File
Born: 28th January 1457. His father was Edmund Tudor and his mother was Lady Margaret Beaufort.
Died: 21st April 1509. Henry died of tuberculosis at Richmond Palace. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Reign: 1485 to 1509.
Children: Four of Henry VII’s children survived beyond infancy. They were: Arthur Tudor, Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII and Mary Tudor.
How Did Henry Tudor Become King of England?
Henry’s mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was one of the great-granddaughters of John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III. This gave Henry Tudor a claim to the English throne, but quite a poor one. Others alive in the 1480s could demonstrate a stronger claim, but Henry made all of this somewhat irrelevant when he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.
The Battle of Bosworth Field
On 22nd August 1485 the Wars of the Roses (a conflict between the House of York and the House of Lancaster) was effectively brought to a close on a battlefield by the small town of Market Bosworth. The Yorkist army, led by King Richard III, was defeated by the Lancastrian forces, led by Henry Tudor. Richard III was killed in the battle, and Henry Tudor was crowned as King Henry VII.
Click here to find out more about the Battle of Bosworth Field.
How Did Henry Make His Reign More Secure?
Because he had quite a weak claim to the throne, Henry VII quickly set about making it more secure. He did several things to achieve this:
- Henry VII married Elizabeth of York – uniting the Houses of York and Lancaster. This is symbolised by the red and white Tudor Rose.
- Henry declared that his reign started the day before the Battle of Bosworth Field. This meant that anyone who fought against Henry in the battle could be found guilty of treason. A useful threat to have up your sleeve!
- Henry overcame several rebellions during his reign, defeating those who tried to claim that they had a claim to the throne.
Other Facts About Henry VII
- Despite winning his throne in battle, King Henry VII was not a military man. His policy was to keep the peace and build up the wealth of England.
- He used marriages to strengthen the relationship between England and other European kingdoms. His eldest son, Arthur, married Catherine of Aragon from Spain. His daughter, Margaret, was married to King James IV of Scotland.
- Arthur Tudor (Henry VII’s eldest son) died suddenly in 1502. This meant that Henry – the King’s second eldest son – was now next in line.
- Henry VII died on 21st April 1509, and he was succeeded by Henry VIII, his second son.
Click here to find out more about the Tudors.