Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Tudor Tree

Welcome to your (slightly shortened) history lesson on Tudor England!

In case you happen to know nothing about me, I LOVE Tudor England.  It's my favorite time period to read about, starting at Henry VIII and his man whorish ways, and ending at James VI, who took over the English and Scottish throne, basically because there was no one left.

I know that's KIND of a big picture, but I wanted you to at least see the whole family tree. 

See, Henry VII came into power because he won a war (the last one to achieve his throne that way.)  He defeated Richard III and then married Richard III's niece, securing his place on the English throne for the next 25 years.  Honestly, no one really remembers much about Henry VII other than he preceded Henry VIII.  Henry VII had four children, Arthur, Margaret, Henry and Mary.

Arthur was the original heir to the throne of England.  He was older than Henry and he actually married Catherine of Aragon, causing peace between the English and the Spanish (who were constantly at war... actually, EVERYONE was at war during this time period.  No one ever got along.)

However, shortly after Arthur and Catherine were married, Arthur got what was called the "sweating disease" and died.  He was only 16 years old at the time.  He left Catherine of Aragon a widow and stranded in England for 8 years.

Now, here is where Henry VIII's controversy starts.  Catherine claims that Arthur and she never consummated their marriage (no one really know for sure if they did or not.)  Henry didn't really care.  He married Catherine, despite how shady it seemed (also, the Catholic church would not allow you to marry your widowed sister-in-law.  It was basically incest to them.)

During their marriage, they had one daughter, Mary.  But they didn't have any sons.  And we know it's ALL about the sons in England.  So what did Henry do?  He divorced his wife, of course, so he could get an heir.

And he kept doing this, for the next seven wives.  Anne Boleyn was beheaded (but it should be noted that she was Elizabeth's mother.)  Jane Seymour actually DID produce and heir (Edward VI), but died due to childbirth complications.  Anne of Cleves had a terrible relationship with Henry, and as such their marriage was annulled.  She was the only wife to come out alive, minus his final wife, and that's only because Henry died before the final wife could be killed.  He then married Catherine Howard, who he subsequently killed because she wasn't a virgin when she married him.  Catherine Parr was the last wife of Henry VIII.

The other major thing you need to know about Henry is that he completely reformed religion in England.  Catholics reigned supreme in Europe during that time, and the Pope had more power than kings.  Henry VIII opposed that idea (mainly because he wanted to divorce his wife and the church wouldn't let him.)  He rejected Catholic ideals and became Protestant.  He was actually the first building block of reform in Europe.  He planted the idea that one man didn't rule supreme (though that probably wasn't his intent.)

After Henry's death, the country was unstable.  Edward VI rose to the throne easily, but he was a sickly child.  Just seven years after becoming king, Edward died at 15 of tuberculosis.

Mary and Elizabeth fought for the throne almost all of Mary's life.  Elizabeth was smart and had her mother's cunning.  Much of the country wanted Elizabeth to rule, because she was Protestant (like both Henry VIII and her brother Edward), whereas Mary was Catholic.

Mary inevitable started a reign of terror to convert her country to Catholicism.  People were constantly being burned at the stake and, inevitably, earned her the name "Bloody Mary."  (Haha, and you thought it was just an urban myth.)

When Mary finally died, Elizabeth took the throne.  Her reign was considered the golden years for England (though not without its own peril.  Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots), who considered herself the heir to the English throne, tried MULTIPLE times to oust Elizabeth from her seat.)  Elizabeth built her kingdom up, was loved by the majority of her country and brought them into prosperity.  She even defeated the Spanish Armada (A REALLY big deal at the time), while delivering the best speech ever.

Our book this week, The Queen's Fool, deals with Mary's rule.  While the book is told from the point of view of a young (Jewish) girl, she enters Mary's court and reports all that she sees.  Gregory actually has a series of Tudor England based books, ranging from Catherine of Aragon to Elizabeth I.

1 comment:

  1. Super excited about this review week. I also love Tudor England, as you know, and I have read several of Gregory's books about the family. Can't wait for Friday.