Henry VII was crowned King of England on the 30th October 1485, founding the royal Tudor dynasty. He had become king following the defeat and death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485, bringing an end to the civil conflict known as the Wars of the Roses. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He would rule until his death on 21st April 1509.
Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle, Wales, on 28th January 1457 to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. His father Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, died three months before his birth. It was through his mother, who was the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, that Henry derived his strongest claim to the throne, though he later cemented it by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV and niece of Richard III. By 1483 he had become the senior male Lancastrian claimant, after the deaths in battle, by murder or by execution of Henry VI, his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and the other members of the Beaufort line.
Henry also made some political capital out of his Welsh ancestry, for example in attracting military support and safeguarding his army's passage through Wales on its way to the Battle of Bosworth Field. He came from an old, established Anglesey family that claimed descent from Cadwaladr (in legend, the last ancient British king), and on occasion Henry displayed the red dragon of Cadwaladr. In reality, however, his hereditary connections to Welsh aristocracy were not strong, with his most immediate ancestors having had their lands forfeited due to their support for Owain Glyndŵr’s revolt in 1400.
Following his father's death Henry's uncle, Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, undertook to protect his siater-in-law and her son; she was 13 years old when she gave birth to Henry. When Edward IV became King in 1461, Jasper went into exile abroad. Pembroke Castle, and later the Earldom of Pembroke, were granted to the Yorkist William Herbert, who also assumed the guardianship of Margaret Beaufort and the young Henry. Herebert was however later captured and killed and when Henry VI was restored in 1470 Jasper Tudor returned. It would not however be long until the Yorkist Edward IV regained the throne in 1471, and Henry was forced to flee with other Lancastrians to Brittany, where he spent most of the next 14 years under the protection of Francis II, Duke of Brittany.
By 1483, Henry's mother was actively promoting him as an alternative to Richard III and in the same year he married Elizabeth of York. Following an early abortive attempt to land in England, and with support from the Woodvilles, in-laws of the late Edward IV, he sailed with a small French and Scottish force, landing in Mill Bay, Pembrokeshire, close to his birthplace. He marched towards England accompanied by his uncle Jasper and the Earl of Oxford and in part playing on his Welsh ancestry, he amassed an army of around 5,000 soldiers. His army met Richard III's at the Battle of Bosworth Field, where they won a decisive victory. Richard III's death at Bosworth Field effectively ended the Wars of the Roses, although it was not the last battle Henry had to fight to keep his throne.
Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war, and after a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII. He credited with a number of administrative, economic and diplomatic initiatives. In particular his economic policies, and in particular the reform of the English tax system, restored the fortunes of an effectively bankrupt exchequer. The thrust of his foreign policy was both to maintain peace and to create economic prosperity. Recognising the importance of the newly united Spanish kingdom he concluded the Treaty of Medina del Campo, by which his son, Arthur Tudor, was married to Catherine of Aragon. Following Arthur’s death in 1502, Catherine would become the future king Henry VIII’s first wife. He also concluded the Treaty of Perpetual Peace with Scotland, which betrothed his daughter Margaret to King James IV of Scotland; the marriage would eventually lead to the union of the English and Scottish crowns under Margaret's great-grandson, James VI of Scotland and I of England.
Henry VII died at Richmond Palace on 21 April 1509 of tuberculosis and was buried at Westminster Abbey, next to his wife, Elizabeth, in the chapel he commissioned. He was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII (reign 1509–47).
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