A Brief History of Tudor England
The Middle Ages are customarily taken to have ended when Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Henry's accession as Henry VII marked the end of the Wars of the Roses, which had dominated English politics for much of the fifteenth century, and was to herald the beginning of an unprecedented period of peace that lasted until the outbreak of civil war in 1642.
Henry VII devoted his reign to establishing the security of his throne, which he passed on to his son Henry VIII in 1509. Henry VIII is best known for having married six wives, but his marital affairs were of great political importance as well. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, produced only a daughter, named Mary. Desperate for a male heir, Henry applied to the Pope to have his marriage annulled. For various reasons the request was refused, so Henry had his Parliament pass a body of legislation that withdrew England from the Catholic Church, placing the king at the head of the new Church of England.
As head of his own church, Henry now divorced Catherine and married Anne Boleyn. This marriage proved no more successful in Henry's eyes, as it produced only a daughter (little did he know that this daughter, as Elizabeth I, was to become one of England's most successful and best-loved monarchs). Henry had Anne Boleyn executed on charges of adultery. His third wife, Jane Seymour, died of natural causes, but not before bearing him a son, Edward. Of Henry's three subsequent wives, none bore any heirs.
Upon Henry's death in 1547 his son came to the throne as Edward VI. Edward was still underage and his reign was dominated by his guardians,