Tudor, royal family that ruled England from 1485 to 1603. Its founder was Owen Tudor, of a Welsh family of great antiquity, who was a squire at the court of Henry V and who married that king's widow, Catherine of Valois. Their eldest son, Edmund, was created (1453) earl of Richmond, married Margaret Beaufort (a descendant of John of Gaunt), and had a posthumous son, Henry, who assumed the Lancastrian claims and ascended the throne as Henry VII after defeating Richard III at Bosworth Field (1485). By his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV, Henry united the Lancastrian and Yorkist claims to the throne. Of his children, his daughter Margaret Tudor married James IV of Scotland; his daughter Mary (see Mary of England) married Louis XII of France; and his surviving son succeeded him (1509) on the throne as Henry VIII. All three of Henry VIII's children, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, were rulers of England. Following the death of Edward VI, there was an unsuccessful attempt to place Mary of England's granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, upon the throne. The reign of the Tudors was distinguished by considerable governmental reorganization, which strengthened the power of the monarchy; the rise of England as a naval power and a corresponding growth in the sense of national pride; and the Reformation of the English church with attendant religious strife. It was a period of a remarkable flowering of English literature and scholarship. Upon the death of Elizabeth I (1603), the Tudor dynasty was succeeded by the house of Stuart, whose claim to the throne derived from Margaret Tudor. Among the noted historians of the Tudor period are Geoffrey Rudolph Elton, Sir John Ernest Neale, and Albert Frederick Pollard.

See also C. Read, The Tudors (1936); C. Morris, The Tudors (1955); M. Foss, Tudor Portraits (1974); A. Plowden, The House of Tudor (1982); T. Penn, Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England (2012).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies