House of Normandy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
House of Normandy
Country England
Founded 911
Founder Rollo
Final ruler Stephen
Current head Extinct
Dissolution 25 October 1154
Ethnicity Norman, English

The House of Normandy is the usual designation for the family that were the Dukes of Normandy and Kings of England which immediately followed the Norman conquest of England and lasted until the House of Plantagenet came to power in 1154. It includedRollo and his descendants, and from William the Conqueror and his heirs down through 1135. After that it was disputed between William’s grandchildren, Matilda and Stephen of the House of Blois (or Blesevin dynasty).

The Norman dukes were:

The Norman monarchs of England and Normandy were:

Family tree[edit]

Note: The names of Kings of England have been emboldened to disambiguate from Dukes of Normandy.

Duke of Normandy
William I,
Duke of Normandy
Richard I,
Duke of Normandy
Richard II,
Duke of Normandy
Robert I,
Duke of Normandy
Richard III,
Duke of Normandy
William I & II,
King of England & Duke of Normandy
Robert II,
Duke of Normandy
Count of Blois
William II,
King of England
Henry I,
King of England & Duke of Normandy
William Clito,
Count of Flanders
King of England & Duke of Normandy
Count of Anjou & Duke of Normandy
William III Adelin,
Duke of Normandy
Henry II
King of England

House of Anjou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Houses of Anjou or Houses of Angevin or the Angevin dynasties are three historical and separate noble houses, whose powerbase originated in the French province of Anjou.

House of Plantagenet

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Plantagenet” redirects here. For other uses, see Plantagenet (disambiguation).
House of Plantagenet
Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg
Armorial of Plantagenet
Country Kingdom of England, Kingdom of France, Lordship of Ireland,Principality of Wales
Parent house Angevins
Founded 1126
Founder Geoffroy de Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou
Final ruler Richard III of England
Dissolution 1485
Cadet branches

The House of Plantagenet (/plænˈtæənət/ plan-taj-ə-nət, also spelt in English sources as Plantaganet, Plantagenett, Plantagenette, Plantaginet, Plantagynett, etc.) was a family originally from the former French county of Anjou, whose members held the English throne from the accession of Henry II in 1154 to the death of Richard III in 1485. Within that period, some historians identify four distinct royal houses: Angevins, Plantagenet, Lancaster, and York.[1] In the 10 years from 1144, two successive French counts of Anjou won control of a vast assemblage of lands that would last for 80 years and would retrospectively be referred to as the Angevin Empire. The first of these counts—Geoffrey—became duke of Normandy in 1144 and his successor—Henry—added Aquitaine by virtue of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1152 and became king of England in 1154 by successfully pursuing a claim derived from his maternal grandfather, Henry I of England.[2] From Henry’s fourth son—John—the dynasty produced a long line of 14 English kings. The name of Plantagenet, which historians use for the entire dynasty, dates from the 15th century and comes from a 12th-century nickname of Geoffrey.

It was under the Plantagenet’s rule that England was transformed from a colony, often governed from abroad and considered of lesser significance among European monarchies, into a sophisticated, politically engaged and independent kingdom. This was not always necessarily due to the conscious intentions of the Plantagenets as Winston Churchill, the 20th-century British prime minister, articulated in A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: “[w]hen the long tally is added, it will be seen that the British nation and the English-speaking world owe far more to the vices of John than to the labours of virtuous sovereigns”.[3][4] They were often forced by weakness to negotiate compromises that constrained their power as kings in return for financial and military support—such as theMagna Carta—which transformed the role of kingship. No longer would the king be the most powerful man in the country, solely holding the prerogative of judgement, feudal tribute and warfare, but they would have defined duties to the realm underpinned by a sophisticated justice system. A distinct national identity was shaped by conflict with the French, Scots, Welsh and Irish and the use of English re-established as the major language. The Plantagenets also provided England with significant buildings such as King’s College, Cambridge, Eton College, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and the Welsh castles.

The Plantagenet’s conclusive defeat in the Hundred Years’ War broke confidence in the status quo and through the burden of taxes raised to support the war they played a part in devastating the English economy. Several popular revolts demanded greater rights and freedoms for the general population. Crime increased as soldiers returned destitute from France, the nobility raised private armies, pursued private feuds and defied the weak leadership of Henry VI. Throughout the Plantagenet period there was continual rivalry between the members of the family, but no English dynasty was as successful in passing the crown to a succeeding generation as the Plantagenets from 1189 to 1377. The political and economic situation, combined with the splintering of the dynasty into competing cadet branches—the House of York and House of Lancaster—in the 15th century, developed these regular conflicts into the internecine strife later named the Wars of the Roses.

These events culminated in 1485 with the death of the last Plantagenet king—Richard III—at the Battle of Bosworth Field. This marks the end of Plantagenet power and the Middle Ages in England for many historians. The succeeding Tudor dynasty were able to resolve many of the problems that beset the later Plantagenets through centralising royal power, by which they provided the necessary stability for an English Renaissance and the beginnings of Early modern Britain.


An illuminated diagram showing the Angevins; coloured lines connect the two to show the lineal descent

13th century depiction of the Angevins (Henry II and his legitimate children): (left to right) William, Henry, Richard,Matilda, Geoffrey, Eleanor, Joan and John

The line of the counts of Anjou of which the Plantagenets are part, descended from Geoffrey II, Count of Gâtinaisand Ermengarde of Anjou, the daughter of Fulk III of Anjou. The couple inherited the title in 1060 via cognatic kinshipto an Angevin family whose recorded history dates from 870 and who were descended from a noble calledIngelger.[5][6] The marriage of a later count, who was also called Geoffrey, to Henry I of England‘s daughter, heir and only surviving legitimate child—Matilda—brought about the convergence of the counts of Anjou, the House of Normandy and the House of Wessex. This was part of a power struggle during the 10th and 11th centuries between the counts of Anjou and rival princes in northern and western Gaul. The rivals included the ruler of Normandy—Henry, Brittany, Poitou, Blois, Maine and the kings of France. It was from this marriage that Geoffrey’s son, Henry inherited the claims to England, Normandy and Anjou that mark the beginning of the Angevin and Plantagenet dynasties.[7]

This was the third attempt that Geoffrey’s father—Fulk V, Count of Anjou—had tried to build a political alliance with Normandy. The first was by marrying his daughter Alice to Henry I’s heir—William Adelin—but the prince drowned in the wreck of the White Ship. Fulk then married his daughterSibylla to William Clito, heir to Henry I’s older brother Robert Curthose, but Henry I had the marriage annulled to avoid the strengthening of William’s the rival claim to his lands. On the completion of his strategy Fulk resigned all his titles to Geoffrey and sailed to become King of Jerusalem.[8]



Henry II is considered by some to be the first Plantagenet King of England.

It was Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, who adopted Plantagenet as a family name for him and his descendants in the 15th century.Plantegenest (or Plante Genest) had been a 12th-century nickname of Geoffrey, perhaps because his emblem may have been the common broom, (planta genista in medieval Latin).[9] It is uncertain why Richard chose this specific name, but it emphasised Richard’s status as Geoffrey’s (and six English kings’) patrilineal descendant during the Wars of the Roses. The retrospective usage of the name for all of Geoffrey’s male descendants was popular in Tudor times, perhaps encouraged by the added legitimacy it gave Richard’s great grandson, Henry VIII of England.[10]


Further information: Angevin kings of England and Angevin Empire

The adjective Angevin is especially used in English history to refer to the three kings of the Angevin dynastyHenry II, Richard I and John—who were also counts of Anjou; their characteristics, descendants and the period of history which they covered from the mid-12th to the early-13th centuries. Many historians consider the Angevins /ænvɪns/, meaning from Anjou in French, as a distinct English royal house. In addition, Angevin is also used pertaining to Anjou, or any sovereign, government derived from this. As a noun it is used for any native of Anjou or Angevin ruler and as such is also used for other Counts and Dukes of Anjou; including the three kings’ ancestors, their cousins who held the crown of Jerusalem and unrelated later members of the French royal family who were granted the titles to form different dynasties amongst which were the Capetian House of Anjou and the Valois House of Anjou.[11]As result there is disagreement between those who consider Henry III to be the first Plantagenet and those who do not make a distinction between Angevin and Plantagenet who consider the first to be Henry II.[12][13][14][15][16] The term Angevin Empire was coined in 1887 by Kate Norgate. As far as it is known there was no contemporary name for the assemblage of territories which were referred to—if at all—by clumsy circumlocutions such as “our kingdom and everything subject to our rule whatever it may be”, or “the whole of the kingdom which had belonged to his father”. Whereas the Angevin part of this term has proved uncontentious the empire portion has proved controversial. In 1986 a convention of historical specialists concluded that there had been no Angevin state and no “Angevin Empire” but the term espace Plantagenet was acceptable.[17]

Angevin kings of England[edit]

Arrival in England[edit]

Henry’s continental holdings in 1154, forming part of the “Angevin Empire

When the future Henry II was born in 1133, his grandfather —Henry, king of England—was reportedly delighted, describing the boy as “the heir to the kingdom”. The birth reduced the risk that the king’s Anglo-Norman realm would pass to his son-in-law’s family, should the marriage of Matilda and Count Geoffrey prove childless. The birth of a second son—also called Geoffrey—raised the possibility that —in accordance to French inheritance custom of the period—the Anglo-Norman maternal inheritance would go to Henry and the Angevin paternal inheritance to Geoffrey. This would have again divided the Anglo-Norman lands from those of Anjou.[18] However—in what was a precursor of the regular internecine strife that would plague the Plantagenets—the king quarreled with Count Geoffrey and Matilda as they attempted to develop an alternative power base that would ensure the succession. The result was that when King Henry died in November 1135 the couple were in their own dominions. This allowed Matilda’s cousin—Stephen—to race from his lands in Boulogne and seize the crown of England.[19]

Henry’s father, Count Geoffrey, had little interest in England, but commenced a ten-year struggle for the duchy of Normandy.[20] His mother Matilda created a second front by invading England in 1139 and in doing so instigating the civil war known as the Anarchy. In 1141 this proved decisive when she captured Stephen at the battle of Lincoln. The resulting collapse in Stephen’s support enabled Geoffrey to push on with the conquest of Normandy over the next four years. However, in England Matilda threw away her winning position and Stephen was released in a hostage exchange for Matilda’s half-brother Robert. Henry was sent repeatedly to England from the age of nine to be the male figurehead of the campaigns, as it became apparent that if England was conquered it was his father’s intention that Henry would become king. In 1150 Geoffrey also transferred the title of Duke of Normandy to Henry although Geoffrey retained the dominant role in governance of the duchy.[21]

Three fortuitous events allowed Henry to finally bring the conflict to a successful conclusion:

  • In 1151 Count Geoffrey died before having time to complete his plan to divide his inheritance between Henry and Henry’s brother—Geoffrey—who would have received Anjou. According to William of Newburgh writing in the 1190s, the dying Geoffrey decided that Henry would have the paternal and maternal inheritances while he needed the resources to overcome Stephen, and left instructions that his body should not be buried until Henry swore an oath that, once England and Normandy were secured the younger Geoffrey would have Anjou.[22] Henry’s brother Geoffrey died in 1154, too soon to receive Anjou, but not before he was installed as count in Nantes, after Henry aided a rebellion by its citizens against their previous lord.[23]
  • Louis VII of France divorced Eleanor of Aquitaine—on 18 March 1152—whom Henry quickly married—18 May 1152—greatly increasing his resources and power with the acquisition of Duchy of Aquitaine.[24]
  • In 1153 Stephen’s son—Eustace—died. The disheartened Stephen, who had also recently been widowed, and he gave up the fight. The Treaty of Wallingford repeated the peace offer that Matilda rejected in 1142, recognising Henry as Stephen’s heir, guaranteeing Stephen’s second son—William—his rights to his family estates and allowed Stephen to be king for life. Stephen did not live long and so Henry inherited in late 1154.[25]

Angevin zenith[edit]

Both of Henry’s siblings—Geoffrey (1134-1158) and William (1136-1164)— died unmarried and without descendents. However, the tempestuous marriage of Henry and Eleanor—who already had two daughters by her first marriage to King Louis: Marie and Alix—produced eight children in 13 years:[26]

Henry faced many challenges to secure possession of his father’s and grandfathers’ lands that required the reassertion and extension of old suzerainties.[28] In 1162, he saw an opportunity to re-establish what he saw as his rights over the church in England by appointing his friend Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury when the incumbentTheobald died. However, Becket proved to be an inept politician whose defiance alienated the king and his counsellors. Henry and Becket clashed repeatedly: over church tenures, Henry’s brother’s marriage and taxation. Henry reacted by getting Becket, and other members of the English episcopate, to recognise sixteen ancient customs—governing relations between the king, his courts and the church—in writing for the first time in the Constitutions of Clarendon. When Becket tried to leave the country without permission, Henry attempted to ruin him by laying a number of suits relating to Becket’s time as chancellor. In response Becket fled into exile for five years. Relations later improved, allowing Becket’s return, but soured again when Becket saw the coronation of Henry’s son as coregent by the Archbishop of York as a challenge to his authority and excommunicated those who had offended him. When he heard the news, Henry said: “What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born clerk”. Three of Henry’s men killed Becket in Canterbury Cathedral after Becket resisted a botched arrest attempt. Within Christian Europe Henry was widely considered complicit in Becket’s death. The opinion of this transgression against the church made Henry a pariah, so in penance he walked barefoot into Canterbury Cathedral where he was scourged by monks.[29]

Pope Adrian IV had given Henry a papal blessing to expand his power into Ireland to reform the Irish church. Originally this would have allowed some territory to be granted to Henry’s brother, William, but other matters had distracted Henry and William was now dead.[30] In 1171 Henry invaded Ireland to assert his overlordship following alarm at the success of knights he had allowed to recruit soldiers in England and Wales. These knights had assumed the role of colonisers and accrued autonomous power. Instead Henry’s designs were made plain when he gave the lordship of Ireland to his youngest son, John.[31] In 1172 Henry II tried to give his landless youngest son John a wedding gift of the three castles of Chinon, Loudun and Mirebeau. This angered the 18-year old Young King who had yet to receive any lands from his father and prompted a rebellion by Henry II’s wife and three eldest sons. Louis VII supported the rebellion to destabilise his Henry II. William the Lion and other subjects of Henry II also joined the revolt and it took 18 months for Henry to force the rebels to submit to his authority.[32] In Le Mans in 1182, Henry II gathered his children to plan a partible inheritance in which his eldest son (also called Henry) would inherit England, Normandy and Anjou; Richard the Duchy of Aquitaine; Geoffrey Brittany, and John Ireland. This degenerated into further conflict. The younger Henry rebelled again before he died of dysentery and, in 1186, Geoffrey died after a tournament accident. In 1189 Richard and Philip II of France took advantage of Henry’s failing health and forced him to accept humiliating peace terms, including naming Richard as his sole heir.[33] Two days later the old king died, defeated and miserable in the knowledge that even his favoured son John had rebelled. This fate was seen as the price he paid for the murder of Beckett.[34]

On the day of Richard’s English coronation there was a mass slaughter of the Jews, described by Richard of Devizes as a “holocaust”.[35]Quickly putting the affairs of the Angevin Empire in order he departed on Crusade to the Middle East in early 1190. Opinions of Richard amongst his contemporaries were mixed. He had rejected and humiliated the king of France’s sister; deposed the well-connected king of Cyprus and afterwards sold the island; insulted and refused spoils of the Third Crusade to nobles like Leopold V, Duke of Austria, and was rumoured to have arranged the assassination of Conrad of Montferrat. His cruelty was demonstrated by his massacre of 2,600 prisoners in Acre.[36] However, Richard was respected for his military leadership and courtly manners. He achieved victories in the Third Crusade but failed to capture Jerusalem, retreating from the Holy Land with a small band of followers.[37]

Richard was captured by Leopold on his return journey. Custody was passed to Henry the Lion and a tax of 25% of movables and income was required to pay the ransom of 100,000 marks, with a promise of 50,000 more. Philip II of France had overrun great swathes of Normandy while King John of England controlled much of the remainder of Richard’s lands. But, on his return to England, Richard forgave John and re-established his control. Leaving England in 1194 never to return, Richard battled Phillip for the next five years for the return of the holdings seized during his incarceration. Close to total victory he was injured by an arrow during the siege of Château de Châlus-Chabrol and died after lingering injured for ten days.[38]

Decline and the loss of Anjou[edit]

Richard’s failure in his duty to provide an heir caused a succession crisis. Anjou, Brittany, Maine and Touraine chose Richard’s nephew and nominated heir, Arthur, while John succeeded in England and Normandy. Yet again Philip II of France took the opportunity to destabilise the Plantagenet territories on the European mainland, supporting his vassal Arthur’s claim to the English crown. When Arthur’s forces threatened his mother, John won a significant victory, capturing the entire rebel leadership at the Battle of Mirebeau.[39]

Arthur was murdered, it was rumoured by John’s own hands, and his sister Eleanor would spend the rest of her life in captivity. John’s behaviour drove numerous French barons to side with Phillip. The resulting rebellions by the Norman and Angevin barons broke John’s control of the continental possessions, leading to the de facto end of the Angevin Empire, even though Henry III would maintain the claim until 1259.[40]

One of only four survivingexemplifications of the 1215 text ofMagna Carta

After re-establishing his authority in England, John planned to retake Normandy and Anjou. The strategy was to draw the French fromParis while another army, under Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor, attacked from the north. However, his allies were defeated at the Battle of Bouvines in one of the most decisive and symbolic battles in French history.[41] The battle had both important and high profile consequences.[42] John’s nephew Otto retreated and was soon overthrown while King John agreed to a five-year truce. Philip’s decisive victory was crucial in ordering politics in both England and France. The battle was instrumental in forming the absolute monarchy in France.[43] The defeat in France weakened John’s authority in England and he was forced to agree to the limitation of royal power documented in the treaty called Magna Carta between him and his senior magnates. While the principles of Magna Carta formed the basis of every constitutional battle through the 13th and 14th centuries both John and the barons rapidly attempted to rescind the terms of Magna Carta, leading to the First Barons’ War. in which the rebel barons invited an invasion by . The husband of Blanche — Henry II’s granddaughter—Prince Louis ,was invited by the barons to take John’s throne and invaded England but before the conflict was conclusively decided John died in October 2016.[44] John’s death is considered by some historians to mark the end of the Angevin period and the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty.[1]

Plantagenet main line[edit]

Baronial conflict and the establishment of Parliament[edit]

Descent from the Angevins (legitimate and illegitimate) via John is widespread including all subsequent monarchs of England and the United Kingdom. John had five legitimate children with Isabella:

In addition John had illegitimate children with a number of mistresses, including nine sons—Richard, Oliver, John, Geoffrey, Henry, Osbert Gifford, Eudes, Bartholomew and (probably) Philip—and three daughters—Joan, Maud and (probably) Isabel.[49] Of these Joan was the best known, since she married Prince Llywelyn the Great of Wales.[50]

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke was appointed the protector of the nine-year-old Henry III on his father’s death. Without John as a focus for dissent support for Louis ebbed away—Marshall’s victories at the battles of Lincoln and Dover in 1217 led to Louis renouncing his claims with the Treaty of Lambeth.[51] The Marshal Protectorate achieved reconciliation with the reissue of an amended Magna Carta as a basis for future government.[52] Despite the 1217 Treaty of Lambeth, hostilities continued and Henry was forced to make significant constitutional concessions to the newly crowned Louis VIII of France and Henry’s stepfather Hugh X of Lusignan. Between them, they overran much of the remnants of Henry’s continental holdings, further eroding the Angevin’s grip on the continent. Henry saw such similarities between himself and England’s then patron saint Edward the Confessor in his struggle with his nobles[53] that he gave his first son the Anglo-Saxon name Edward and built the saint a magnificent, still-extant shrine.[54] The barons were resistant to the cost in men and money required to support a foreign war to restore Plantagenet holdings on the continent. In order to motivate his barons, and facing a repeat of the situation his father faced, Henry III reissued Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest in return for a tax that raised the incredible sum of £45,000. This was enacted in an assembly of the barons, bishops and magnates that created a compact in which the feudal prerogatives of the king were debated and discussed in the political community.[55]

Henry III had nine children:[56]

Cast of the effigy of Henry III in Westminster Abbey, c. 1272

The pope had offered Henry’s brother Richard the Kingdom of Sicily but he recognised that the cost of making this claim real was prohibitive. Matthew Paris wrote that Richard responded to the price by saying, “You might as well say, ‘I make you a present of the moon—step up to the sky and take it down'”. Instead, Henry purchased the kingdom for his son Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster, which angered many powerful barons. Bankrupted by his military expenses, Henry was forced to agree to the Provisions of Oxford by barons led by his brother-in-law, Simon de Montfort, under which his debts were paid in exchange for substantial reforms. He was also forced to agree to the Treaty of Paris with Louis IX of France, acknowledging the loss of the Dukedom of Normandy, Maine, Anjou and Poitou, but retaining the Channel Islands. The treaty held that “islands (if any) which the king of England should hold”, he would retain “as peer of France and Duke of Aquitaine”[61] In exchange Louis withdrew his support for English rebels, ceded three bishoprics and cities, and was to pay an annual rent for possession of Agenais.[62] This was one of the root causes of the Hundred Years War with disagreements about the meaning of the treaty beginning as soon as it was signed.[63] English kings were sovereign in the England but were vassals to the kings of France for their continental lands.[64]

Death and mutilation of Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham

Friction intensified between the barons and the king. The barons, under Simon de Montfort, captured most of South East England in what became known as the Second Barons’ War. At the Battle of Lewes in 1264, Henry and Prince Edward were defeated and taken prisoner. De Montfort summoned the Great Parliament, regarded as the first Parliament worthy of the name because it was the first time cities and burghs sent representatives.[65] Edward escaped and raised an army, defeating and killing de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham in 1265.[66] Savage retribution was exacted on the rebels and authority was restored to Henry. Edward, having pacified the realm, left England to join Louis IX on the Ninth Crusade. He was one of the last crusaders in the tradition aiming to recover the Holy Lands. Louis died before Edward’s arrival, but Edward decided to continue. The result was anticlimactic; Edward’s small force limited him to the relief of Acre and a handful of raids. Surviving a murder attempt by an assassin, Edward left for Sicily later in the year, never to return on crusade. The stability of England’s political structure was demonstrated when Henry III died and his son succeeded as Edward I; the barons swore allegiance to Edward even though he did not return for two years.[67]

Constitutional change and the reform of feudalism[edit]

Edward’s first marriage in 1254 was to Eleanor of Castile, daughter of King Ferdinand of Castile. Edward and Eleanor had sixteen children. Of these, five daughters survived into adulthood, but only one boy outlived Edward: .[68]

Edward’s second marriage in 1299 was to Margaret of France who was the daughter of Philip III of France. Margaret and Edward had two sons, both of whom lived into adulthood, and a daughter who died as a child.[69]

Because of his legal reforms Edward is sometimes called The English Justinian,[70] although whether he was a reformer or an autocrat responding to events is debated. His campaigns left him in debt. This necessitated that he gain wider national support for his policies among lesser landowners, merchants and traders so that he could raise taxes through frequently summoned Parliaments. When Philip IV of France confiscated the duchy of Gascony in 1294, more money was needed to wage war in France. To gain financial support for the war effort, Edward summoned a precedent-setting assembly known as the Model Parliament, which included barons, clergy, knights and townspeople.[70] Edward imposed his authority on the Church with the Statutes of Mortmain that prohibited the donation of land to the Church, asserted the rights of the Crown at the expense of traditional feudal privileges, promoted the uniform administration of justice, raised income and codified the legal system.[71]

Expansion in Britain[edit]

Wales after the Treaty of Montgomery 1267

  Gwynedd, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd’s principality
  Territories conquered by Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
  Territories of Llywelyn’s vassals
  Lordships of the Marcher barons
  Lordships of the King of England

From the beginning of his reign Edward I sought to organise his inherited territories. As a devotee of the cult of King Arthur he also attempted to enforce claims to primacy within the British Isles. Wales consisted of a number of princedoms, often in conflict with each other. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd held North Wales in fee to the English king under the Treaty of Woodstock, but had taken advantage of the English civil wars to consolidate his position as Prince of Wales and maintained that his principality was ‘entirely separate from the rights’ of England. Edward considered Llywelyn ‘a rebel and disturber of the peace’. Edward’s determination, military experience and skilful use of ships ended Welsh independence by driving Llywelyn into the mountains. Llywelyn later died in battle. The Statute of Rhuddlan extended the shire system, bringing Wales into the English legal framework. When Edward’s son was born he was proclaimed as the first English Prince of Wales. Edward’s Welsh campaign produced one of the largest armies ever assembled by an English king in a formidable combination of heavy Anglo-Norman cavalry and Welsh archers that laid the foundations of later military victories in France. Edward spent around £173,000 on his two Welsh campaigns, largely on a network of castles to secure his control.[72] Edward asserted that the king of Scotland owed him feudal allegiance and intended to create a dual monarchy by marrying his son Edward to Margaret, Maid of Norway, who was the sole heir of Alexander III of Scotland.[73] When Margaret died Edward was invited by the Scottish magnates to resolve the disputed inheritance. Edward obtained recognition from thecompetitors for the Scottish throne that he had the ‘sovereign lordship of Scotland and the right to determine our several pretensions’ deciding the case in favour of John Balliol, who duly swore loyalty to him and became king.[74] Edward insisted that Scotland was not independent and that as sovereign lord he had the right to hear in England appeals against Balliol’s judgements, undermining Balliol’s authority. John entered into an alliance with France in 1295[75] and in 1296 Edward invaded Scotland, deposing and exiling Balliol.[76]

Scene from the Holkham Bible, shows knights and foot soldiers from the period of Bannockburn

Edward was less successful in Gascony, which was overrun by the French. His commitments were beginning to outweigh his resources and Edward was forced to reconfirm the Charters (including Magna Carta) to obtain the money he required. A truce and peace treaty the French king restored the duchy of Gascony to Edward. Meanwhile William Wallace had risen in Balliol’s name and recovered most of Scotland, before being defeated at the Battle of Falkirk.[77] Robert the Bruce now rebelled and was crowned king of Scotland. Edward died on his way to lead another Scottish campaign.[77]

Edward II‘s coronation oath on his succession in 1307 was the first to reflect the king’s responsibility to maintain the laws that the community “shall have chosen” (“aura eslu“).[78] The king was initially popular but faced three challenges: discontent over the financing of wars; his household spending and the role of Piers Gaveston.[79] When Parliament decided that Gaveston should be exiled the king had no choice but to comply.[80] The king engineered Gaveston’s return, but was forced to agree to the appointment of Ordainers, led by his cousin Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, to reform the royal household with Piers Gaveston exiled again.[81][82] When Gaveston returned again to England, he was abducted and executed after a mock trial.[83] This brutal act drove Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, and his adherents from power. Edward’s humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn by Bruce, confirming Bruce’s position as an independent king of Scots, returned the initiative to Lancaster and Guy de Beauchamp, 10th Earl of Warwick, who had not taken part in the campaign, claiming that it was in defiance of the Ordinances.[84][85] Edward finally repealed the Ordinances after defeating and executing Lancaster at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322.[86]

Isabella, third from left, with her father, Philip IV, her future French king brothers, and Philip’s brother, Charles of Valois

The French monarchy asserted its rights to encroach on Edward’s legal rights in Gascony. Resistance to one judgement in Saint-Sardosresulted in Charles IV declaring the duchy forfeit. Charles’s sister, Queen Isabella, was sent to negotiate and agreed to a treaty that required Edward to pay homage in France to Charles. Edward resigned Aquitaine and Ponthieu to his son, Prince Edward, who travelled to France to give homage in his stead. With the English heir in her power, Isabella refused to return to England unless Edward II dismissed his favourites and also formed a relationship with Roger Mortimer.[87] The couple invaded England and, joined by Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, captured the king.[88] Edward II abdicated on the condition that his son would inherit the throne rather than Mortimer. He is generally believed to have been murdered at Berkeley Castle by having a red-hot poker thrust into his bowels.[58] A coup by Edward III ended four years of control by Isabella and Mortimer. Roger Mortimer was executed. Though removed from power, Isabella was treated well, living in luxury for the next 27 years.[89]

Conflict with the House of Valois[edit]

In 1328 Charles IV of France died without a male heir. His cousin Phillip of Valois and Queen Isabella, on behalf of her son Edward, were the major claimants to the throne. Philip, as senior grandson of Philip III of France in the male line, became king over Edward’s claim as a matrilineal grandson of Philip IV of France, following the precedents of Philip V’s succession over his niece Joan II of Navarre and Charles IV’s succession over his nieces. Not yet in power, Edward III paid homage to Phillip as Duke of Aquitaine and the French king continued to assert feudal pressure on Gascony, leading Edward to go to war.[90] Edward proclaimed himself king of France to encourage the Flemish to rise in open rebellion against the French king. The conflict, known as the Hundred Years War saw a significant England naval victory at the Battle of Sluys.[91] eventually followed by a victory on land at Crécy, leaving Edward free to capture the important port of Calais. A subsequent victory against Scotland at the Battle of Neville’s Cross resulted in the capture of David II and reduced the threat from Scotland.[92] The Black Death brought a halt to Edward’s campaigns by killing between a third to more than half of his subjects.[93][94] The only Plantagenet known to have died from the Black Death was Edward III’s daughter Joan on her way to marry Pedro of Castile.[95]

The victory at Crécy was an important Plantagenet success of theEdwardian War in France.

Edward, the Black Prince, resumed the war with destructive chevauchées starting from Bordeaux. His army was caught by a much larger French force at Poitiers, but the ensuing battle was a decisive English victory resulting in the capture of John II of France. The Second Treaty of London was signed, which promised a four million écus ransom. It was guaranteed by the Valois family hostages being held in London, while John returned to France to raise his ransom. Edward gained possession of Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, Maine and the coastline from Flanders to Spain, restoring the lands of the former Angevin Empire. The hostages quickly escaped back to France. John, horrified that his word had been broken, returned to England and died there. Edward invaded France in an attempt to take advantage of the popular rebellion of the Jacquerie, hoping to seize the throne. Although no French army stood against him, he was unable to take Paris or Rheims. In the subsequent Treaty of Brétigny he renounced his claim to the French crown, but greatly expanded his territory in Aquitaine and confirmed his conquest of Calais.[96]

Fighting in the Hundred Years’ War spilled from the French and Plantagenet lands into surrounding realms, including the dynastic conflict in Castile between Peter of Castile and Henry II of Castile. The Black Prince allied himself with Peter, defeating Henry at the Battle of Nájera before falling out with Peter, who had no means to reimburse him, leaving Edward bankrupt. The Plantagenets continued to interfere and John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, the Black Prince’s brother, married Peter’s daughter Constance, claiming the Crown of Castile in the name of his wife. He arrived with an army, asking John I to give up the throne in favour of Constance. John declined; instead his son married John of Gaunt’s daughter, Catherine of Lancaster, creating the title Prince of Asturias for the couple.[97]

Richard II meets the rebels of thePeasants’ Revolt in a painting from Froissart’s Chronicles

Charles V of France resumed hostilities when the Black Prince refused a summons as Duke of Aquitaine and his reign saw the Plantagenets steadily pushed back in France.[98] The prince fell ill and returned to England where he soon died.[99] His brother John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster assumed leadership in France.[100][101] The English lost towns including Poitiers and Bergerac and their dominance at sea was reversed by defeat at the Battle of La Rochelle, undermining English seaborne trade and allowing Gascony to be threatened.[102]

Descendants of Edward III[edit]

The fecund marriage of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault produced thirteen children and 32 grandchildren.[103]

  • Edward (1130-1376)—he married his cousin Joan of Kent who was a granddaughter of Edward I and had two legitimate sons.
John married secondly Constance of Castile in an attempt to win the throne of Castile that was unsuccessful. The marriage produced two children.

John married thirdly Katherine Swynford on 13 January 1396 after a long affair. The four children of the couple were all born before this date and were given the nameBeaufort. The Pope legitimised them in 1396, as did Richard II by charter which also excluded them from the line of succession.

End of Plantagenet main line[edit]

The Black Prince’s 10-year-old son succeeded as Richard II of England on the death of his grandfather, with government in the hands of a regency council.[104] The poor state of the economy as his government levied a number of poll taxes to finance military campaigns, resulted in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381,[105] followed by brutal reprisals against the rebels.[106] The king’s uncle Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, Richard FitzAlan, 11th Earl of Arundel, and Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, became known as the Lords Appellant when they sought to impeach five of the king’s favourites and restrain what was increasingly seen as tyrannical and capricious rule.[107] Later they were joined by Henry Bolingbroke, the son and heir of John of Gaunt, and Thomas de Mowbray, 1st Duke of Norfolk. Initially, they were successful in establishing a commission to govern England for one year, but they were forced to rebel against Richard, defeating an army under Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, at the skirmish of Radcot Bridge. Richard was reduced to a figurehead with little power. As a result of the Merciless Parliament, de Vere and Michael de la Pole, 1st Earl of Suffolk, who had fled abroad, were sentenced to death in their absence. Alexander Neville, Archbishop of York, had all of his worldly goods confiscated. A number of Richard’s council were executed. Following John of Gaunt’s return from Spain, Richard was able to rebuild his power, having Gloucester murdered in captivity in Calais. Warwick was stripped of his title. Bolingbroke and Mowbray were exiled.[107]

When John of Gaunt died in 1399, Richard disinherited Henry of Bolingbroke, who invaded England in response with a small force that quickly grew in numbers. Meeting little resistance, Henry deposed Richard to have himself crowned Henry IV of England. Richard died in captivity early the next year, probably murdered, bringing an end to the main Plantagenet line.[108]

House of Lancaster[edit]

Main article: House of Lancaster

Henry married his Plantagenet cousin Mary de Bohun who was descended from Edward I on her father’s side and Edmund Crouchback on her mother’s. This later Lancastrian branch was not prolific, although the couple had seven children, by 1471 all their few grandchildren were dead:[109]

  • Edward of Lancaster, April 1382; buried Monmouth Castle, Monmouth
  • Henry V(1386–1422)—had one son
  • Henry VI of England (1421-1471)—also had one son

Henry asserted that his mother had legitimate rights through descent from Edmund Crouchback, whom he claimed was the elder son of Henry III of England, set aside due to deformity.[59] Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, was the heir presumptive to Richard II by being the grandson of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. As a child he was not considered a serious contender and he never showed interest in the throne. However, the later marriage of his granddaughter to Richard’s son consolidated his descendants’ claim to the throne with that of the more junior House of York.[59] Henry planned to resume war with France, but was plagued with financial problems, declining health and frequent rebellions.[110] He defeated a Scottish invasion, a serious rebellion by Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland in the North[110] and put down Owain Glyndŵr‘s rebellion in Wales.[111] Many saw it as a punishment from God when Henry was later struck down with leprosy and epilepsy.[112]

Defeat in the Hundred Years’ War[edit]

Henry IV died in 1413. His son and successor, Henry V of England, aware that Charles VI of France‘s mental illness had caused instability in France, invaded to assert the Plantagenet claims and won a near total victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt.[113]In subsequent years Henry recaptured much of Normandy and successfully secured marriage to Catherine of Valois. The resultingTreaty of Troyes stated that Henry’s heirs would inherit the throne of France. However, conflict continued with the Dauphin. When Henry died in 1422, he was succeeded by his nine-month old son as Henry VI of England. The elderly Charles VI of France died two months later. French victory at the Battle of Patay enabled the Dauphin to be crowned at Reims.[114]

Hundred Years’ War evolution. French territory: yellow; English: grey; Burgundian: dark grey.

During the minority of Henry VI the war caused political division amongst the Plantagenets, Bedford, Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, and Cardinal Beaufort.[115] Humphrey’s wife was accused of using witchcraft with the aim of putting him on the throne and Humphrey was later arrested and died in prison.[116] The refusal to renounce the Plantagenet claim to the French crown at the congress of Arras enabled the former Plantagenet ally Philip III, Duke of Burgundy, to reconcile with Charles, while giving Charles time to reorganise his feudal levies into a modern professional army.[117] Victory at theBattle of Castillon in 1453, brought an end to the war leaving only Calais as a continental possession.[118]

House of York[edit]

Main article: House of York

Yorkist descent from Edward III[edit]

Edward III created his fourth son Edmund as the first duke of York in 1385. Edmund was married to Isabella, a daughter of King Peter of Castile and María de Padilla and the sister of Infanta Constance of Castile who was also the second wife of Edmund’s brother, John of Gaunt. Both of Edmund’s sons were killed in 1415. Richard became involved in the Southampton Plot. This was a conspiracy to depose Henry V in favour of Richard’s brother-in-law Edmund Mortimer. When Mortimer revealed the plot to the king, Richard was executed for treason. Richard’s childless older brother Edward was slain at at the Battle of Agincourt later the same year. Constance of York was Edmund’s only daughter and was also an ancestor of Queen Anne Neville. The increasingly interwoven Plantagenet relationships were demonstrated by Edmund’s second marriage to Joan Holland. Her sister, Alianore Holland, was mother to Richard’s wife Anne Mortimer. Margaret Holland, another of Joan’s sisters, married John of Gaunt’s son. She later married Thomas of Lancaster, John of Gaunt’s grandson by King Henry IV. A third sister, Eleanor Holland, was mother-in-law to Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury—John’s grandson by his daughter Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland. These sisters were all granddaughters of Joan of Kent, the mother of Richard II, and therefore Plantagenet descendants of Edward I.[119]

Edmund’s son, Richard was married to Anne Mortimer who was the great-granddaughter of Edward III second surviving son—Lionel— the daughter of Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and Eleanor Holland. Anne died giving birth to their only son in September 1411.[120] Richard’s execution four years later left two orphans. Isabel who married into the Bourchier family and a son who was also called Richard. Although the Earl’s title was forfeited, he was not attainted, and the four-year-old orphan Richard was his father’s heir.[121] Within months of his father’s death, Richard’s childless uncle, Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, was slain at the Battle of Agincourt. Richard was allowed to inherit the title of Duke of York in 1426. In 1432 he acquired the earldoms of March and Ulster following the death of his maternal uncle— Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March who had died campaigning with Henry V in France— and the earldom of Cambridge that been his fathers. Having descent from Edward III both in the maternal and paternal line made Richard a significant alternative claimant to the throne if the Lancastrian line failed and by Cognatic primogeniture arguably a superior claim.[122] A point he emphasised by—from 1148— being the first to assume the Plantagenet surname. Once he had inherited the March and Ulster titles he also became the wealthiest and most powerful noble in England, second only to the King himself. Richard married Cecily Neville who was a granddaughter of John of Gaunt and had thirteen or possible fifteen children.[123]

Wars of the Roses[edit]

Main article: Wars of the Roses

When Henry VI had a mental breakdown, Richard was named regent, but the birth of a male heir that resolved the succession question.[125] When Henry’s sanity returned, the court party reasserted its authority. Richard of York and the Nevilles, defeated them at a skirmish called the First Battle of St Albans. The ruling class was deeply shocked and reconciliation was attempted.[126][127] York, Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, fled abroad. The Nevilles returned to win the Battle of Northampton, where they captured Henry.[128] When Richard joined them, he surprised Parliament by claiming the throne, then forcing through the Act of Accord, which stated that Henry would remain as monarch for his lifetime, but would be succeeded by York. Margaret found this disregarding of her son’s claims unacceptable and so the conflict continued. York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield and his head set on display at Micklegate Bar, along with those of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, who had both been captured and beheaded.[129]

Bronze boar mount thought to have been worn by a supporter of Richard III, often described as the last Plantagenet king

The Scottish queen Mary of Guelders provided Margaret with support and a Scottish army pillaged into southern England.[130] London resisted in the fear of being plundered, then enthusiastically welcomed York’s son Edward, Earl of March, with Parliament confirming that Edward should be made king.[131] Edward was crowned after consolidating his position with victory at the Battle of Towton.[132]

Edward’s preferment of the former Lancastrian-supporting Woodville family, following his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, led to Warwick and Clarence helping Margaret depose Edward and return Henry to the throne. Edward and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, fled, but on their return Clarence switched sides at the Battle of Barnet, leading to the death of the Neville brothers. The subsequent Battle of Tewkesbury brought the demise of the last of the male line of the Beauforts. The battlefield execution of Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and later murder of Henry VI extinguished the House of Lancaster.

By the mid-1470s, the victorious House of York looked safely established, with seven living male princes. Edward and Elizabeth Woodville themselves had ten children, seven of whom survived him.[58]

However, dynastic infighting and misfortune quickly brought about the own demise of the House of York. George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, plotted against his brother and was executed. Following Edward’s premature death in 1483, his brother Richard had Parliament declare Edwards’s two sons illegitimate on the pretext of an alleged prior pre-contract to Lady Eleanor Talbot, leaving Edward’s marriage invalid.[133] Richard seized the throne and the Princes in the Tower were never seen again. Richard’s son predeceased him and he was killed in 1485, following an invasion of foreign mercenaries led by Henry Tudor, who claimed the throne through his mother Margaret Beaufort. He assumed the throne as Henry VII, founding the Tudor dynasty and bringing the Plantagenet line of kings to an end.[58]

The Tudors and other Plantagenet descendants[edit]

At the time Henry Tudor seized the throne there were eighteen Plantagenet descendants who by notional modern standards could claim to have a stronger hereditary claim and by 1510 this number had been further increased by the birth of sixteen Yorkist children.[58] Henry mitigated this situation with his marriage to Elizabeth of York. She was the eldest daughter of Edward IV and all the couple’s children were his cognatic heirs. Indeed Polydore Vergil noted Henry VIII pronounced resemblance to his grandfather, Edward: For just as Edward was the most warmly thought of by the English people amongst all English kings, so this successor of his, Henry, was very like him in general appearance, in greatness of mind and generosity and for that reason was the most acclaimed and approved of all.[134]

This did not stop Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy—Edward’s sister and Elizabeth’s aunt— and members of the de le Pole family—children of Edward’s sister and John de la Pole, 2nd Duke of Suffolk— from frequent attempts to destabilise Henry’s regime.[135] Henry imprisoned Margaret’s nephew —Edward, Earl of Warwick, the son of her brother George— in the Tower of London but in 1487 Margaret financed a rebellion led by Lambert Simnel pretending to be Edward. John de la Pole, 1st Earl of Lincoln joined the revolt in the probable anticipation it would further his own ambitions to the throne but was killed in the suppression of the uprising at the Battle of Stoke Field in 1487.[136] Two further failed invasions supported by Margaret using Perkin Warbeck pretending to be Edward IV’s son Richard of Shrewsbury and Warbeck’s later escape implicated Warwick who was executed in 1499.

John de la Pole’s attainder meant his brother Edmund inherited their father’s titles but much of the wealth of the duchy of Suffolk was forfeit. Edmund did not possess sufficient finances to maintain his status as a duke so as a compromise he accepted the title of earl of Suffolk. Financial difficulties led to frequent legal conflicts and Edmund’s indictment for murder in 1501. He fled with his brother Richard while their remaining brother William was imprisoned in the Tower—where he would remain until his death 37 years later—as part of a general suppression of Edmund’s associates. In 1506 Archduke Philip returned Edmund and he was imprisoned in the Tower. In 1513, he was executed after Richard de la Pole was recognized by Louis XII of France as king of England claiming the English crown in his own right. [137] Richard— known as the White Rose— plotted an invasion of England for years. But serving in François I of France‘s invasion of Italy in 1525 was killed at the battle of Pavia fighting as the captain of the French landsknechts.[138]

Family tree[edit]

This family tree includes selected members of the House of Plantagenet who were born legitimate.
House of Lancaster
House of York
Geoffrey V,
Count of Anjou

Henry II,
King of England

Count of Nantes

William FitzEmpress
Junior King of England

Richard I,
King of England

Geoffrey II,
Duke of Brittany

King of England

Arthur I,
Duke of Brittany

Henry III,
King of England

King of Germany

Edward I,
King of England

1st Earl of Lancaster

Henry of Almain
2nd Earl of Cornwall

Earl of Chester

Edward II,
King of England

1st Earl of Norfolk

1st Earl of Kent

2nd Earl of Lancaster

3rd Earl of Lancaster

Edward III,
King of England

Earl of Cornwall

2nd Earl of Kent

3rd Earl of Kent

1st Duke of Lancaster

Prince of Wales

1st Duke of Clarence

1st Duke of Lancaster

Edmund, 1st Duke of York
1st Duke of Gloucester

Richard II,
King of England

Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster
and the House of Mortimer
Henry IV,
King of England

John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
and the House of Beaufort
2nd Duke of York

3rd Earl of Cambridge

m. Anne de Mortimer
2nd Earl of Buckingham

Henry V,
King of England

1st Duke of Clarence

1st Duke of Bedford

1st Duke of Gloucester

3rd Duke of York

Henry VI,
King of England

Edward IV,
King of England

Earl of Rutland

Elizabeth of York
and the House of York-de la Pole
1st Duke of Clarence

Richard III,
King of England

Prince of Wales

Edward V,
King of England

1st Duke of York

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury
and the House of Pole
17th Earl of Warwick

Prince of Wales


Further information

House of Lancaster

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Lancaster House.
House of Lancaster
Arms of Edmund Crouchback, Earl of Leicester and Lancaster.svg
As descendants of the sovereign in the male line the dukes of Lancaster bore the arms of the kingdom differentiated by a label azure of three points each charged with three fleurs de lys OrThese arms are still used today by the Duchy of Lancaster.
Country Kingdom of England, Kingdom of France
Parent house House of Plantagenet
Titles Earl of Lancaster
Earl of Leicester
Count of Champagne and Brie
Lord of Beaufort and Nogent[1]
Earl of Moray
Earl Ferrers
Earl of Derby
Earl of Salisbury
Earl of Lincoln
Duke of Lancaster
King of England
King of France
Founded 30 June 1267
Founder Edmund Crouchback
Final ruler Henry VI of England
Current head Extinct in the male line
Dissolution 1471

The House of Lancaster was a cadet branch of the royal House of Plantagenet. Henry III of England created the Earldom of Lancaster—from which the house was named—for his second son Edmund Crouchback in 1267. Edmund had already been created Earl of Leicester in 1265 and was granted the lands and privileges of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, after de Montfort’s death and attainder at the end of the Second Barons’ War.[2] When Edmund’s son Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, inherited his father-in-law’s estates and title of Earl of Lincoln he became at a stroke the most powerful nobleman in England, with lands throughout the kingdom and the ability to raise vast private armies to wield power at national and local levels.[3] This brought him—and Henry, his younger brother—into conflict with their cousin Edward II of England, leading to Thomas’s execution. Henry inherited Thomas’s titles and he and his son, who was also called Henry, gave loyal service to Edward’s son—Edward III of England.

Edward III married all his sons to wealthy English heiresses rather than following his predecessors’ practice of finding continental political marriages for royal princes. Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, had no male heir so Edward married his son Johnto Henry’s heiress daughter and John’s third cousin Blanche of Lancaster. This gave John the vast wealth of the House of Lancaster. Their son Henry usurped the throne in 1399, creating one of the factions in the Wars of the Roses. There was an intermittent dynastic struggle between the descendants of Edward III. In these wars, the term Lancastrian became a reference to members of the family and their supporters. The family provided England with three kings: Henry IV, who ruled from 1399 to 1413,Henry V (1413–1422), and Henry VI (1422–1461 and 1470–1471).

The House became extinct in the male line upon the murder in the Tower of London of Henry VI, following the battlefield execution of his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, by supporters of the House of York in 1471. Lancastrian cognatic descent—from John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster’s daughter Phillipa—continued in the royal houses of Spain and Portugal while the Lancastrian political cause was maintained by Henry Tudor—a relatively unknown scion of the Beauforts—eventually leading to the establishment of the House of Tudor. The Lancastrians left a legacy through the patronage of the arts—most notably in foundingEton College and King’s College, Cambridge—but to historians’ chagrin their propaganda, and that of their Tudor successors, means that it is Shakespeare’s partly fictionalized history plays rather than medievalist scholarly research that has the greater influence on modern perceptions of the dynasty.

Origin of the Earls of Lancaster[edit]

Seal of Edmund Crouchback

After the supporters of Henry III of England suppressed opposition from the English nobility in the Second Barons’ War, Henry granted to his second son Edmund Crouchback the titles and possessions forfeited by attainder of the barons’ leader, Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, including the Earldom of Leicester, on 26 October 1265. Later grants included the first Earldom of Lancaster on 30 June 1267 and that of Earl Ferrers in 1301. Edmund was also Count of Champagne and Brie from 1276 by right of his wife.[2] Henry IV of Englandwould later use his descent from Edmund to legitimise his claim to the throne, even making the spurious claim that Edmund was the elder son of Henry but had been passed over as king because of his deformity.[5]

Edmund’s second marriage to Blanche of Artois, the widow of the King of Navarre, placed him at the centre of the European aristocracy. Blanche’s daughter Joan I of Navarre was queen regnant of Navarre and through her marriage to Philip IV of France was queen consort of France. Edmund’s son Thomas became the most powerful nobleman in England, gaining the Earldoms of Lincoln and Salisburythrough marriage to the heiress of Henry de Lacy, 3rd Earl of Lincoln. His income was £11,000 per annum—double that of the next wealthiest earl.[3]

Thomas and his younger brother Henry served in the coronation of their cousin King Edward II of England on 25 February 1308; Thomas carried Curtana, the Sword of Mercy, and Henry carried the royal sceptre.[6] After initially supporting Edward, Thomas became one of theLords Ordainers, who demanded the banishment of Piers Gaveston and the governance of the realm by a baronial council. After Gaveston was captured, Thomas took the lead in his trial and execution at Warwick in 1312.[7] Edward’s authority was weakened by poor governance and defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn. This allowed Thomas to restrain Edward’s power by republishing the Ordinances of 1311. Following this achievement Thomas took little part in the governance of the realm and instead retreated to Pontefract Castle.[8] This allowed Edward to regroup and re-arm, leading to a fragile peace in August 1318 with the Treaty of Leake. In 1321 Edward’s rule again collapsed into civil war. Thomas raised a northern army but was defeated and captured at the Battle of Boroughbridge. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered but because he was Edward’s cousin he was given a quicker death by beheading.[9]

Henry joined the revolt of Edward’s wife Isabella of France and her lover Mortimer in 1326, pursuing and capturing Edward at Neath in South Wales.[9] Following Edward’s deposition at the Parliament of Kenilworth in 1326 and reputed murder at Berkeley Castle,[10] Thomas’s conviction was posthumously reversed and Henry regained possession of the Earldoms of Lancaster, Derby, Salisbury and Lincoln that had been forfeit for Thomas’s treason. His restored prestige led to him knighting the young King Edward III of England before his coronation.[11] Mortimer lost support over the Treaty of Edinburgh–Northampton that formalised Scotland’s independence, and his developing power in theWelsh Marches provoked jealousy from the barons. When Mortimer called a parliament to make his new powers and estates permanent with the title of Earl of March in 1328, Henry led the opposition and held a counter-meeting. In response, Mortimer ravaged the lands of Lancaster and checked the revolt. Edward III was able to assume control in 1330 but Henry’s further influence was restricted by poor health and blindness for the last fifteen years of his life.[12][13]

Duchy and Palatinate of Lancaster[edit]

See also: County palatine

Henry’s son, also called Henry, was born at the castle of Grosmont in Monmouthshire between 1299 and 1314.[1] According to the younger Henry’s memoirs, he was better atmartial arts than academic subjects and did not learn to read until later in life.[14] Henry was coeval with Edward III and was pivotal to his reign, becoming his best friend and most trusted commander.[15] Henry was knighted in 1330, represented his father in parliament and fought in Edward’s Scottish campaign.[16] After the outbreak of the Hundred Years’ War, Henry took part in several diplomatic missions and minor campaigns and was present at the great English victory in the naval Battle of Sluys in 1340.[17] Later, he was required to commit himself as hostage in the Low Countries for Edward’s considerable debts. He remained hostage for a year and had to pay a large ransom for his own release.[18]

In 1345, Edward III launched a major, three-pronged attack on France. The Earl of Northampton attacked from Brittany, Edward from Flanders, and Henry from Aquitaine in the south.[15] Moving rapidly through the country, Henry confronted the Comte d’Isle at the Battle of Auberoche and achieved a victory described as “the greatest single achievement of Lancaster’s entire military career”.[19] The ransom from the prisoners has been estimated at £50,000.[20] Edward rewarded Henry by including him as a founding knight of theOrder of the Garter.[21] An even greater honour was bestowed on Lancaster when Edward created him Duke of Lancaster. The title of duke was relatively new in England, with only Cornwall being a previous ducal title. Lancaster was also given palatinate status for the county of Lancashire, which entailed a separate administration independent of the crown.[22] There were two other counties palatine; Durham was an ancient ecclesiastical palatinate and Chester was crown property.

In 1350, Henry was present at the naval victory at Winchelsea, where he saved the life of the Black Prince.[23] He spent 1351-2 on crusade in Prussia where a quarrel with Otto, Duke of Brunswick, almost led to a duel between the two men, which was only averted by the intervention of John II of France.[24] As campaigning in France resumed, Henry participated in the last great offensive of the Rheims campaign of 1359–60—the first phase of the Hundred Years’ War—before returning to England where he fell ill and died, most likely of the plague, at Leicester Castle.[24]

Edward III of England married John of Gaunt, his third surviving son, to Henry’s heiress Blanche of Lancaster. On Henry’s death, Edward conferred on Gaunt the second creation of the title of Duke of Lancaster, which made Gaunt, after Edward, the wealthiest landowner in England. Gaunt enjoyed great political influence during his lifetime, but upon his death in 1399 his lands were confiscated by Richard II. Gaunt’s exiled son and heir Henry of Bolingbroke returned home and gathered military support in clear contravention of Richard’s treason act of 1397, which included a definition of treason of “or [to] … raiseth People and rideth against the King to make War within his Realm …”. Although he claimed his aim was restoration of his Lancaster inheritance, this Act and Henry’s knowledge of Richard’s character—suspicious and vindictive—probably meant Henry knew that only by removing Richard from power could he be secure.[25] Henry unified popular opposition to Richard II, took control of the kingdom and Richard—recognising that he had insufficient support to resist—surrendered to Henry’s forces at Conwy Castle. Henry instigated a commission to decide who should be king. Richard was forced to abdicate and although Henry was not next in line, he was chosen by an unlawfully constituted parliament dominated by his supporters.[26] After the first unrest of his reign and a revolt by the Earls of Salisbury, Gloucester, Exeter and Surrey, Richard reputedly starved to death.[27] There is some debate as to whether this was self-inflicted or ordered by Henry to end the risk of restoration without leaving incriminating marks on the body.[28]

Reign of Henry IV[edit]

There is much debate amongst historians about Henry’s accession, in part because some see it as a cause of the Wars of the Roses. For many historians, the accession by force of the throne broke principles the Plantagenets had established successfully over two and a half centuries and allowed any magnate with sufficient power and Plantagenet blood to have ambitions to assume the throne. Richard had attempted to disinherit Henry and remove him from the succession. In response Henry’s legal advisors, led byWilliam Thirning, dissuaded Henry from claiming the throne by right of conquest and instead look for legal justification.[29] Although Henry established a committee to investigate his assertion that his mother had legitimate rights through descent from Edmund Crouchback, whom he said was the elder son of Henry III of England but was set aside because of deformity, no evidence was found. The eight-year-old Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March, was the heir general to Richard II by being the grandson of Edward III’s second son,Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, and also the son of Richard’s last nominated heir. In desperation, Henry’s advisors made the case that Henry was heir male to Henry III and this was supported by thirteenth-century entails.[30] Mortimer’s sister Anne de Mortimer married Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge, son of Edward III’s fourth sonEdmund of Langley, consolidating Anne’s place in the succession with that of the more junior House of York.[5] As a child Mortimer was not considered a serious contender and as an adult he showed no interest in the throne, instead loyally serving the House of Lancaster. Mortimer informed Henry V when Conisburgh, in what was later called theSouthampton Plot, attempted to place him on the throne instead of Henry’s newly crowned son—their mutual cousin—leading to the execution of Conisburgh and the other plotters.[31]

Henry IV was plagued with financial problems, the political need to reward his supporters, frequent rebellions and declining health—including leprosy and epilepsy.[32] The Percy family had been some of Henry’s leading supporters, defending the North from Scotland largely at their own expense, but revolted in the face of lack of reward and suspicion from Henry. Henry Percy (Hotspur) was defeated and killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury. In 1405, Hotspur’s father Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, supported theArchbishop of York, Richard le Scrope, in another rebellion, after which the elder Percy fled to Scotland and his estates were confiscated. Henry had Scrope executed in an act comparable to the murder of another Archbishop—Thomas Beckett by men loyal to Henry II. This would probably have led to Henry’s excommunication but the church was in the midst of the Western Schism, with competing popes keen on Henry’s support; it protested but took no action.[33] In 1408, Percy invaded England once more and was killed at the Battle of Bramham Moor.[34] In Wales, Owain Glyndŵr‘s widespread rebellion was only suppressed with the recapture of Harlech Castle in 1409, although sporadic fighting continued until 1421.[35]

Henry IV was succeeded by his son Henry V,[36] and eventually by his grandson Henry VI in 1422.[37]

Henry V and the Hundred Years’ War[edit]

Henry V’s victory at the Battle of Agincourt

Henry V of England was a successful and ruthless monarch.[38] He was quick to re-assert the claim to the French throne he inherited from Edward III, continuing what was later called the Hundred Years’ War. The war was not a formal, continuous conflict but a series of English raids and military expeditions from 1337 until 1453. There were six major royal expeditions; Henry himself led the fifth and sixth, but these were unlike the smaller, frequent, provincial campaigns.[39] In Henry’s first major campaign—and the fifth major royal campaign of the war—he invaded France, captured Harfleur, made a chevauchée to Calais and won a near-total victory over the French at theBattle of Agincourt despite being outnumbered, outmanoeuvred and low on supplies.[40] In his second campaign, he recaptured much of Normandy and in a treaty secured a marriage to Catherine of Valois. The terms of the Treaty of Troyes were that Henry’s and Catherine’s heirs would succeed to the throne of France. This condition was contested by the Dauphin and the momentum of the war changed. In 1421, Henry’s brother Thomas, Duke of Clarence, was killed at the Battle of Baugé, and Henry V died of dysentery atVincennes in 1422.[37][41]

Henry VI of England was less than a year old but his uncles—led by Henry V’s brother John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford—continued the war.[42] There were more victories, including the Battle of Verneuil, but it was impossible to maintain campaigning at this level. Joan of Arc‘s involvement helped the French remove the siege of Orleans[43] and win the Battle of Patay before Joan was captured by the Burgundians, sold to the English, tried as a witch and burned at the stake. The Dauphin was crowned and continued the successful Fabian tactics of avoiding full frontal assault and exploiting logistical advantage.[44]

Henry VI and the fall of the House of Lancaster[edit]

Main articles: Wars of the Roses and House of York

The Hundred Years’ War caused political division between the Lancastrians and the other Plantagenets during the minority of Henry VI: Bedford wanted to maintain the majority of the Lancastrian’s French possessions; Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester wanted to hold only Calais; and Cardinal Beaufort desired a negotiated peace.[41][45]Gloucester’s attacks on Beaufort forced the latter from public life but brought him little advantage as the earl of Suffolk’s influence over the king enabled him to direct policy for the rest of the decade. Gloucester remained heir presumptive but in 1441 his ambitious wife, Eleanor Cobham, consulted astrologers on the likelihood of the king’s death and was arrested for treasonable necromancy—although Gloucester was not implicated he was discredited forced into retirement. In 1447 Suffolk had him arrested and within days he died in prison.[41]

England’s ally Philip III, Duke of Burgundy defected to Charles, when the English ambassadors’ refusal to renounce the claim to the French crown stalled negotiations, signing the Treaty of Arras (1435).[46] The French reorganised the superior numbers of their feudal levies into a modern professional army and retook Paris, Rouen, Bordeaux and Normandy. Victories at the Battle of Formigny in 1450 and the Battle of Castillon in 1453 brought the war to an end with the House of Lancaster losing forever all its French holdings, except Calais and the Channel Islands.[47][48]

Henry VI proved to be a weak king and vulnerable to the over-mighty subjects who developed private armies of retainers. Rivalries often spilled over from the courtroom into armed confrontations, such as the Percy–Neville feud.[49] Without the common purpose of the war in France, Henry’s cousin Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, used their networks to defy the crown.[50] Henry became the focus of discontent as the population, agricultural production, prices, the wool trade and credit declined in the Great Slump.[51] This led to radical demands from the lower classes. In 1450, Jack Cade raised a rebellion to force Henry to address the economic problems or abdicate his throne.[52] The uprising was suppressed but conflict remained between villagers, gentry and aristocracy. Society remained deeply unsettled and radical demands continued to be suppressed such as those from the yeoman brothers John and William Merfold.[53]

Symbolic representation of the Wars of the Roses in art

Henry’s marriage to Margaret of Anjou prompted criticism from Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, because it included the surrender ofMaine and an extended truce with France. York was Henry’s cousin through his descent from Edward III sons Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, and Edmund, Duke of York. This gave York political influence but he was removed from English and French politics through his appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.[54] On returning to England, York was conscious of the fate of Henry’s uncle Humphrey at the hands of the Beauforts and suspicious that Henry intended to nominate Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke of Somerset, as heir presumptive, and recruited military forces. Armed conflict was avoided because York lacked aristocratic support and was forced to swear allegiance to Henry. However, when Henry later underwent a mental breakdown, York was named regent. Henry was trusting and not a man of war, but Margaret was more assertive and showed open enmity towards York—particularly after the birth of a male heir that resolved the succession question and assured her position.[55]

According to historian Robin Storey, “If Henry’s insanity was a tragedy; his recovery was a national disaster”.[56] When Henry’s sanity returned, the court party reasserted its authority but York and his relatives, the Nevilles, defeated them at the First Battle of St Albans. Historian Anthony Goodman suggests that around 50 men were killed; among them were Somerset and two Percy lords, Henry Percy, 2nd Earl of Northumberland, and Thomas Clifford, 8th Baron de Clifford, creating feuds that would confound reconciliation attempts despite the shock to the ruling class caused by the armed conflict.[57][58] Threatened with treason charges and lacking support, York, Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, and Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, fled abroad. Henry was captured by the opposition when the Nevilles returned and won the Battle of Northampton.[59] York joined them, surprising parliament by claiming the throne and then forcing through the Act of Accord stating that Henry would remain as monarch for his lifetime and that York would succeed him. The disinheriting of Henry’s son Edward was unacceptable to Margaret so the conflict continued. York was killed at the Battle of Wakefield and his head was displayed atMicklegate Bar, York, along with those of Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury—both of whom were captured and beheaded.[60]

Margaret gained the support of the Scottish queen Mary of Guelders, and with a Scottish army she pillaged into southern England.[61] The citizens of London feared the city being plundered and enthusiastically welcomed York’s son Edward, Earl of March.[62] Margaret’s defeat at the Battle of Towton confirmed Edward’s position and he was crowned.[63] Disaffected with Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville and preferment of her formerly Lancastrian-supporting family, Warwick and Clarence defected to the Lancastrians. The alliance was sealed with the marriage of Henry’s son Edward to Anne, Warwick’s daughter. Edward and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, fled England. When they returned, Clarence switched sides at the Battle of Barnet and Warwick and his brother were killed. Henry, Margaret and Edward of Lancaster were caught at the Battle of Tewkesbury before they could escape back to France. Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, was executed on the battlefield and John Beaufort, Marquess of Dorset, was killed in the fighting—meaning that when his brother Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset, was executed two days later, the Beaufort family became extinct in the legitimate male line. The captive Henry was murdered on 21 May 1471 in the Tower of London and buried in Chertsey Abbey, extinguishing the House of Lancaster.[64]


Shakespeare’s history plays[edit]

“This royal throne of kings, this sceptr’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England…

—John of Gaunt’s speech in Richard II,
Act II, Scene I, 40–50[65]

It is a source of irritation to historians that Shakespeare’s influence on the perception of the later medieval period exceeds that of academic research.[66] While the chronology of Shakespeare’s history plays runs from King John to Henry VIII, they are dominated by eight plays in which members of the House of Lancaster play a significant part, voicing speeches on a par with those in Hamlet and King Lear.[67] These plays are:

According to the historian Norman Davies, the plays were constrained by the political and religious requirements of Tudor England. While they are factually inaccurate, they demonstrate how the past and the House of Lancaster are remembered in terms of myth, legend, ideas and popular misconceptions. Shakespeare avoided contentious political and religious issues to dubiously illustrate Tudor England as having rejected medieval conflict and entered an era of harmony and prosperity. The famous patriotic “sceptr’d isle” speech is voiced by John of Gaunt, a man who spent the majority of his life in Aquitaine, and is a piece of poetic license that illustrates English prejudices. Henry V is one-sided with little sympathy for the French.[68] Many of these historical lines illustrate historical myth rather than realism.[69]


Lancastrian cognatic descent from John of Gaunt and Blanche’s daughter Phillipa continued in the royal houses of Spain and Portugal.[70] The remnants of the Lancastrian court party coalesced support around Henry Tudor—a relatively unknown scion of the Beauforts. They had been amongst the most ardent supporters of the House of Lancaster and were descended illegitimately from John of Gaunt by his mistress Katherine Swynford. Although later legitimised by Richard II, Henry IV had formally and permanently debarred them from the succession to avoid competition with the House of Lancaster’s claims to the throne. By some calculations of primogeniture, there were as many as 18 people—including both his mother and future wife—with more right to the throne. By 1510, this figure had increased with the birth of an additional 16 possible Yorkist claimants.[71]

With the House of Lancaster extinct, Henry claimed to be the Lancastrian heir through his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort. His father was Henry VI’s maternal half-brother. In 1485, Henry Tudor united increasing opposition within England to the reign of Richard III with the Lancastrian cause to take the throne. To legitimise his questionable claim, Henry married Elizabeth of York—Edward IV of England’s daughter—and promoted the House of Tudor as a dynasty of dual Lancastrian and Yorkist descent.[72]

Religion, education and the arts[edit]

The Lancastrians were both pious and well read. Henry IV was the first English king known to have possessed a vernacular Bible, supported the canonization of John Twenge, gave a pension to the anchoress Margaret Pensax and maintained close relations with several Westminster recluses. His household accounts as king record conventional payments to large numbers of paupers (12,000 on Easter day 1406) and the intercession for him of twenty-four oratores domini regis at 2d each per day. However, his reliance on the church was both personal and political. Archbishop Arundel gave the Lancastrians vital support and carried other bishops with him. In return the church required support for religious orthodoxy against heresy. Lollards were suppressed and heresy was made a capital offence in England under the statute of De haeretico comburendo even though Henry could not afford to overly antagonize his supporters with Lollard sympathies, including those among his Lancastrian retainers.[25]

According to the author of the Gesta Henrici quinti, Henry V aimed ‘to promote the honour of God, the extension of the Church, the deliverance of his country and the peace and tranquillity of kingdoms’. He was deeply religious, engaged with ecclesiastical issues and saw that his role as king was to honour God, extend the church, fight heresy and defend the established social order. All his victories, especially Agincourt, were attributed to divine intervention. Henry V founded Syon Abbey in 1415, as penance for his father’s execution of Archbishop Scrope, and three monasteries in London: for Carthusian,Bridgettine and Celestine orders.[73] The equally devout Henry VI continued the architectural patronage begun by his father, founding Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge and leaving a lasting educational and architectural legacy in buildings including King’s College Chapel and Eton College Chapel.[74]

The Lancastrian regime was founded and legitimised by formal lying that was both public and official. This has been described as “a series of unconstitutional actions” based “upon three major acts of perjury”.[75] The historian K.B. McFarlane found it hard “to think of another moment of comparable importance in medieval English political history when the supply of information was so effectively manipulated as it was by Henry IV on this occasion”.[76] The Lancastrians patronised poets for panegyric purposes for years before Henry IV ascended the throne, including Geoffrey Chaucer who dedicated The Book of the Duchess to Blanche of Lancaster around 1368. In 1400, poets in the pay of Henry IV were directed to propaganda purposes. John Gower based his Cronica Tripertita on the official Lancastrian accounts of the usurpation:”The Record and Process of the Deposition of Richard II” from 1399. Gower also produced a number of further favourable works including “In praise of peace” which was dedicated to Henry IV.[77]

Earls and Dukes of Lancaster (first creation)[edit]

Earl Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edmund Crouchback, 1st Earl of Lancaster and Leicester[78] Edmund Crouchback 16 January 1245
son of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence
Aveline de Forz
0 children

Blanche of Artois
21 September 1271
4 children
Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster, Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, John Lord of Beaumont, Mary

5 June 1296
age 51
Thomas, Earl of Leicester and Lancaster[79] Manuscript illustration of Thomas of Lancaster with Saint George. (c) 1278

son of Edmund Crouchback and Blanche of Artois

Alice de Lacey
28 October 1294 divorced 1318
0 children
22 March 1322
Executed by order of Edward II of England
Henry, 3rd Earl of Leicester and Lancaster[1] Arms of Henry, 3rd Earl of Leicester and Lancaster.svg 1281
Grosmont Castle Monmouthshire
son of Edmund Crouchback and Blanche of Artois
Matilda de Chaworth

7 children
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster
Blanche of Lancaster, Baroness Wake of Liddell
Maud of Lancaster, Countess of Ulster
Joan of Lancaster, Baroness Mowbray
Isabel of Lancaster, Prioress of Amesbury
Eleanor of Lancaster, Countess of Arundel
Mary of Lancaster, Baroness Percy

22 September 1345
Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, 4th Earl of Leicester and Lancaster[1] Portrait of Henry, Duke of Lancaster - William Bruges's Garter Book (c.1440-1450), f.8 - BL Stowe MS 594 (cropped).jpg between 1299 to 1314
Grosmont Castle Monmouthshire
son of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster
Isabella de Beaumont
2 children
Maud, Countess of Leicester
Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster
23 March 1361
Blanche, 6th Countess of Lancaster[80] Tomb of John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster.jpg 25 March 1345
daughter of Henry of Grosmont
John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster
19 May 1359
7 children
Philippa, Queen of Portugal
Elizabeth of Lancaster, Duchess of Exeter
Henry IV Bolingbroke, King of England
12 September 1369

Bolingbroke Castle
Black Death

Dukes of Lancaster (second creation)[edit]

Duke Portrait Birth Marriages Death
John of Gaunt[81]
Earl by right of his wife, the title Duke of Lancaster was vacant because there were no male heirs. Created Duke by his father Edward III of England
John of Gaunt 6 March 1340
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault
Blanche of Lancaster
7 children
See above
Constance of Castile
21 September 1371
2 children
Catherine, Queen of Castile
Katherine Swynford
13 January 1396
4 children
House of Beaufort
John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset
Cardinal Henry Beaufort
Thomas Beaufort, Duke of Exeter
Joan Beaufort, Countess of Westmorland
3 February 1399
Leicester Castle
age 58

Lancastrian Kings of England[edit]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death Claim
Henry IV of England[82] Henry IV 3 April 1366
Bolingbroke Castle
son of John of GauntandBlanche of Lancaster
(1) Mary de Bohun
Arundel Castle
20 July 1380
seven children
Edward of Lancaster
Henry V of England
Thomas of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Clarence
John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford
Humphrey, 1st Duke of Gloucester
Blanche, Electress Palatine
Philippa, Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden
(2) Joanna of Navarre
Winchester Cathedral
7 February 1403
no children
20 March 1413
Westminster, London
aged 46
Henry’s claim was extremely tenuous. He claimed the throne through his mother’s descent from Edmund on the basis that he was older than Edward I but had been set aside because of deformity. This was not widely accepted
Henry V of England[83] Henry V of England.jpg Monmouth Castle
son ofHenry IVand Mary de Bohun
Catherine of Valois
Troyes Cathedral
2 June 1420
one son
Henry VI of England
31 August 1422
Château de Vincennes
aged 35
son of Henry IV
(agnatic primogeniture)
Henry VI of England[84] Henry VI 6 December 1421
Windsor Castle
son ofHenry VandCatherine of Valois
Margaret of Anjou
Titchfield Abbey
22 April 1445
one son
Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales
21 May 1471
Tower of London
aged 49
(believed murdered)
son of Henry V
(agnatic primogeniture)

Family Tree

House of York

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
House of York
Arms of Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York.svg
As descendants of the sovereign in the male line the dukes of York bore the arms of the kingdom differentiated by a label argent of three points, each bearing three torteaux gules
Parent house House of Plantagenet
Founder Edmund of Langley
Current head Extinct
Cadet branches House of Tudor (non agnatic)
  1. ^ Jump up to:a b titular claim rather than de facto

The House of York was a cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet. Three of its members became Kings of Englandin the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the male line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, the fourth surviving son of Edward III, but also represented Edward’s senior line, being cognatic descendants of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, Edward III’s second surviving son. It is based on these descents that they claimed the English crown.[1][2] Compared with the House of Lancaster, it had a senior claim to the throne of England according to cognatic primogeniture but junior claim according to theagnatic primogeniture.

Descent from Edward III[edit]

For a more detailed family tree, see English monarchs family tree.

Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York, 1st Earl of Cambridge, KG (5 June 1341 – 1 August 1402) was a younger son of KingEdward III of England and Philippa of Hainault, the fourth of their five sons who lived to adulthood. He was the founder of the House of York, but it was through the marriage of his younger son, Richard to Anne Mortimer that the Yorkist faction in the Wars of the Roses made its claim on the throne. The other party in the Wars of the Roses, the Lancasters, were descendants of Edmund’s elder brother, John of Gaunt whose son Henry usurped the throne of Richard II in 1399 .

Edmund had two sons, Edward, and Richard of Conisburgh. Edward succeeded to the dukedom in 1402, but was killed at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, with no issue. Richard married Anne Mortimer, a great-granddaughter of Lionel of Antwerp, the second son (cadet line) of Edward III. Furthermore, Anne’s son Richard also became heir general to the earldom of March, after her only brother, Edmund, 5th Earl, died without issue in 1425. Their father Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March had been named heir presumptive of Richard II before Henry IV‘s accession; although it had been passed over at the time, Anne’s son Richard also inherited this claim to the throne.

Richard of Conisburgh was executed following his involvement in the Southampton Plot to depose Henry V of England in favour of the Earl of March. The dukedom of York therefore passed to his son, Richard Plantagenet. Through his mother, Richard Plantagenet also inherited the lands of the earldom of March, as well as the Mortimer claim to the throne.

House of York
Edward III,
King of England

1st Duke of Clarence

Philippa, 5th Countess of Ulster
Edmund, 1st Duke of York
4th Earl of March

Anne Mortimer
3rd Earl of Cambridge

2nd Duke of York

3rd Duke of York

Edward IV,
King of England

Earl of Rutland

1st Duke of Clarence

Richard III,
King of England

Edward V,
King of England

1st Duke of York

17th Earl of Warwick

Prince of Wales


Wars of the Roses[edit]

Main article: Wars of the Roses
English Royalty
House of York
Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg
Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke
Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke
Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge
Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke
Edward IV
Edward V
George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence
Richard III

Despite his elevated status, Richard Plantagenet was denied a position in government by the advisers of the weak Henry VI, particularlyJohn Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, and the queen consort, Margaret of Anjou. Although he served as Protector of the Realm during Henry VI’s period of incapacity in 1453-54, his reforms were reversed by Somerset’s party once the king had recovered.

The Wars of the Roses began the following year, with the First Battle of St Albans. Initially, Richard aimed only to purge his Lancastrian political opponents from positions of influence over the king. It was not until October 1460 that he claimed the throne for the House of York. In that year the Yorkists had captured the king at the battle of Northampton, but victory was short-lived. Richard and his second sonEdmund were killed at the battle of Wakefield on December 30.

Richard’s claim to the throne was inherited by his son Edward. With the support of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (“The Kingmaker”), Edward, already showing great promise as a leader of men, defeated the Lancastrians in a succession of battles. While Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou were campaigning in the north, Warwick gained control of the capital and had Edward declared king in London in 1461. Edward strengthened his claim with a decisive victory at the Battle of Towton in the same year, in the course of which the Lancastrian army was virtually wiped out.

Reigns of the Yorkist Kings[edit]

The early reign of Edward IV was marred by Lancastrian plotting and uprisings in favour of Henry VI. Warwick himself changed sides, and supported Margaret of Anjou and the king’s jealous brother George, Duke of Clarence, in briefly restoring Henry in 1470-71. However, Edward regained his throne, and the house of Lancaster was all but wiped out with the last male, Henry VI himself, murdered in theTower of London in 1471. In 1478, the continued trouble caused by Clarence caused him to be executed in the Tower of London, popularly he is thought to have been drowned in a butt of malmsey wine.

On Edward’s death in 1483, the crown passed to his twelve year-old son Edward. Edward IV’s younger brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was appointed Protector, and escorted the young king, and his brother Richard, to the Tower of London. The famous Princes in the Tower were never seen again. However it is unknown whether they were killed or who killed them if it happened. Parliament declared, in the document Titulus Regius, that the two boys were illegitimate, on the grounds that Edward IV’s marriage was invalid, and as such Richard was heir to the throne. He was crowned Richard III in July 1483.

Defeat of the House of York[edit]

Richard III had many enemies, including the Lancastrian sympathisers, who now rallied behind Henry Tudor, the House of Tudor being closely linked with the House of Lancaster. A coup attempt failed in late 1483, but in 1485 Richard met Henry Tudor at the battle of Bosworth Field. During the battle, some of Richard’s important supporters switched sides or withheld their retainers from the field. Richard himself was killed, the last Plantagenet king and the last king of England to die in battle.

Henry Tudor declared himself king, took Elizabeth of York, eldest child of Edward IV, as his wife, symbolically uniting the surviving houses of York and Lancaster, and acceded to the throne as Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty which reigned until 1603.

Later claimants[edit]

The de la Pole family were sometimes suggested as heirs to the Yorkist cause, but Henry Tudor and his son Henry VIII of Englandefficiently suppressed all such opposition.

Another Yorkist branch descends from George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, and younger brother of Edward IV. The heir to this branch is the Earl of Loudoun, currently Simon Abney-Hastings. There was in Edward IV’s reign a suspicion that this king was illegitimate. In 2004, the British station Channel 4 revived the George branch’s claim as “Britain’s Real Monarch”. The Earls of Loudoun would then, at least, be the heirs to the Yorkists.[3]


Upon Henry Tudor’s uniting the rival houses of Lancaster and York, the title Duke of York became a royal prerogative and is traditionally accorded to the second son of the reigning monarch. Beginning with Richard of Shrewsbury (son of Edward IV, one of the Princes in the Tower), none of its holders were able to transmit it; they either died without a male heir or succeeded to the throne. The title is held today by Prince Andrew, second son of Queen Elizabeth II and her consort Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

The symbol of the House of York was a white rose, still used as the badge of Yorkshire and Jacobitism. York, Pennsylvania, is known as the White Rose City after the symbol of the House of York. The rivalry between York and Lancaster, in the modern form of the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire, has continued into the present day on a more friendly basis.

Dukes of York[edit]

Duke Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edmund of Langley
(House of York founder)
Edmund of Langley 5 June 1341
Kings Langley
son of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault
Isabella of Castile
3 children

Joan de Holland
ca. 4 November 1393
no children

1 August 1402
Kings Langley
age 61
Edward of Norwich
Edward of Norwich 1373
son of Edmund of Langley and Isabella of Castile
Philippa de Mohun
c. 1397
no children
25 October 1415
age 42
Richard Plantagenet
Richard Plantagenet 21 September 1411
son of Richard of Conisburgh, 3rd Earl of Cambridge and Anne de Mortimer
Cecily Neville
13 children
30 December 1460
age 49
Edward Plantagenet
Edward Plantagenet 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet and Cecily Neville
Elizabeth Woodville
1 May 1464
10 children
9 April 1483
age 40

Edward Plantagenet became Edward IV in 1461, thus merging the title of Duke of York in crown.

Yorkist Kings of England[edit]

Name Portrait Birth Marriages Death
Edward IV
4 March 1461 –
3 October 1470

11 April

Edward IV 28 April 1442
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville[4]
Elizabeth Woodville
Grafton Regis
1 May 1464
10 children[4]
9 April 1483
Westminster Palace
age 40[4]
Edward V
9 April–25 June 1483[5]
Edward V 2 November 1470
son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville[5]
unmarried c. 1483
age about 12 (traditionally: murdered)[6]
Richard III
26 June
Richard III 2 October 1452
Fotheringhay Castle
son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York and Cecily Neville[8]
Anne Neville
Westminster Abbey
12 July 1472
1 son[8]
22 August 1485
Bosworth Field
age 32 (killed in battle)

The house of Tudor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tudor Rose.svg
Tudor Rose
Country England
Parent house LancasterYork
Founded 22 August 1485
Founder Henry VII
Final ruler Elizabeth I
Current head Extinct
Dissolution 24 March 1603
Ethnicity Welsh, English
Cadet branches House of Grey

The Tudor dynasty or House of Tudor was a royal house of Welsh origin,[1] descended in the male line from theTudors of Penmynydd, which ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and theLordship of Ireland, later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1485 until 1603. Its first monarch was Henry VII, a descendant through his mother of a legitimised branch of the English royal House of Lancaster. The Tudor family rose to power in the wake of the Wars of the Roses, which left the House of Lancaster, to which the Tudors were aligned, extinct.

Henry Tudor was able to establish himself as a candidate not only for traditional Lancastrian supporters, but also for the discontented supporters of their rival House of York, and he rose to capture the throne in battle, becoming Henry VII. His victory was reinforced by his marriage to Elizabeth of York, symbolically uniting the former warring factions under a new dynasty. The Tudors extended their power beyond modern England, achieving the full union of England and the Principality of Wales in 1542 (Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542), and successfully asserting English authority over the Kingdom of Ireland. They also maintained the nominal English claim to the Kingdom of France; although none of them made substance of it, Henry VIII fought wars with France trying to reclaim that title. After him, his daughterMary I lost control of all territory in France permanently with the fall of Calais in 1558.

In total, five Tudor monarchs ruled their domains for just over a century. Henry VIII of England was the only male-line male heir of Henry VII to live to the age of maturity. Issues around the Royal succession (including marriage and the succession rights of women) became major political themes during the Tudor era. The House of Stuart came to power in 1603 when the Tudor line failed, as Elizabeth I died without issue.

Ascent to the throne

The Tudors descended on Henry VII’s mother’s side from John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset, one of the illegitimate children of the 14th century English PrinceJohn of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster (the third surviving son of Edward III of England) by Gaunt’s long-term mistress Katherine Swynford. The descendants of an illegitimate child of English Royalty would normally have no claim on the throne, but the situation was complicated when Gaunt and Swynford eventually married in 1399, when John Beaufort was 25. The church retroactively declared the Beauforts legitimate by way of a papal bull the same year, confirmed by an Act of Parliament in 1397. A subsequent proclamation by John of Gaunt’s legitimate son, Henry IV of England, also recognised the Beauforts’ legitimacy, but declared them ineligible ever to inherit the throne. Nevertheless, the Beauforts remained closely allied with Gaunt’s legitimate descendants from his first marriage, the House of Lancaster.

On 1 November 1455, John Beaufort’s granddaughter, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, married Henry VI of England‘s half-brother Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond. It was his father, Owen Tudor (Welsh: Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdur ap Goronwy ap Tewdur ap Goronwy ap Ednyfed Fychan), who abandoned the Welsh patronymic naming practice and adopted a fixed surname. When he did, he did not choose, as was generally the custom, his father’s name, Maredudd, but chose his grandfather’s instead. Tewdur or Tudor is derived from the words tud “territory” and rhi “king”.[2]

Owen Tudor was one of the body guards for Queen Dowager Catherine of Valois, whose husband, Henry V of England, had died in 1422. Evidence suggests that the two were secretly married in 1429. The two sons born of the marriage, Edmund and Jasper, were among the most loyal supporters of the House of Lancaster in its struggle against the House of York.

Henry VI ennobled his half brothers. Edmund became earl of Richmond and was married to Margaret Beaufort, the great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, the progenitor of the house of Lancaster. Jasper became earl of Pembroke and by 1460 had collected so many offices in Wales that he had become the virtual viceroy of the country. Edmund died in November 1456. On 28 January 1457, his widow, who had just attained her fourteenth birthday, gave birth to a son, Henry VII of England, at her brother-in-law’s castle of Pembroke.

Henry Tudor spent his childhood at Raglan Castle, the home of William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke, a leading Yorkist. Following the murder of Henry VI and his son, Edward, in 1471, Henry became the person upon whom the Lancasterian cause rested. Concerned for his young nephew’s life, Jasper Tudor took Henry toBrittany for safety. Lady Margaret remained in England and remarried, living quietly while advancing the Lancasterian, and her son’s cause. Capitalizing on the growing unpopularity of King Richard III of England, she was able to forge an alliance with discontented Yorkists in support of her son. Two years after Richard IIIwas crowned, Henry and Jasper sailed from the mouth of the Seine to the Milford Haven Waterway and defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.[2] Upon this victory, Henry Tudor proclaimed himself King Henry VII.

Family tree of the principal members of the house of Tudor.

Henry VII

King Henry VII, the founder of the royal house of Tudor

Now King, Henry’s first concern was to secure his hold on the throne. On 18 January 1486 at Westminster, he honoured a pledge made three years earlier and married Elizabeth of York.[3] They were third cousins, as both were great-great-grandchildren of John of Gaunt. The marriage unified the warring houses of Lancaster and York and gave his children a strong claim to the throne. The unification of the two houses through this marriage is symbolized by the heraldic emblem of the Tudor rose, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.

Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth had several children, four of whom survived infancy: Arthur, Prince of Wales; Henry, Duke of Richmond; Margaret, who married James IV of Scotland; and Mary, who married Louis XII of France. One of the objectives of Henry VII’s foreign policy was dynastic security, which is portrayed through the alliance forged with the marriage of his daughter Margaret to James IV of Scotland and through the marriage of his eldest son. Henry VII married his son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon, cementing an alliance with the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, and the two spent their honeymoon at Ludlow Castle, the traditional seat of the Prince of Wales.[4] However, four months after the marriage, Arthur died, leaving his younger brother Henry as heir apparent. Henry VII acquired a Papal dispensation allowing Prince Henry to marry Arthur’s widow; however, Henry VII delayed the marriage. Henry VII limited his involvement in European politics. He went to war only twice, once in 1489 during the Breton crisis and the invasion of Brittany, and in 1496–1497 in revenge for Scottish support of Perkin Warbeck and for their invasion of Northern England. Henry VII made peace with France in 1492 and the war against Scotland was abandoned because of the Western Rebellion of 1497. Henry VII came to peace with James IV in 1502, paving the way for the marriage of his daughter Margaret.[4]

One of the main concerns of Henry VII during his reign was the re-accumulation of the funds in the royal treasury. England had never been one of the wealthier European countries, and after the War of the Roses this was even more true. Through his strict monetary strategy, he was able to leave a considerable amount of money in the Treasury for his son and successor, Henry VIII. Although it is debated whether Henry VII was a great king, he certainly was a successful one if only because he restored the nation’s finances, strengthened the judicial system and successfully denied all other claimants to the throne, thus further securing it for his heir.[5]

Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon: marriage was annulled for not producing a male heir to the Tudor dynasty

The new King Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon on 11 June 1509; they were crowned at Westminster Abbey on 24 June the same year. Catherine was Henry’s older brother’s wife, making the path for their marriage a rocky one from the start. A papal dispensation had to be granted for Henry to be able to marry Catherine, and the negotiations took some time. Despite the fact that Henry’s father died before he was married to Catherine, he was determined to marry her anyway and make sure that everyone knew he intended on being his own master. When Henry first came to the throne, he had very little interest in actually ruling; rather, he preferred to indulge in luxuries and to partake in sports. He let others control the kingdom for the first two years of his reign, and then when he became more interested in military strategy, he took more interest in ruling his own throne.[6] In his younger years, Henry was described as a man of gentle friendliness, gentle in debate, and who acted as more of a companion than a king. He was generous in his gifts and affection and was said to be easy to get along with. However, the Henry that many people picture when they hear his name is the Henry of his later years, when he became OBESE, volatile, and was known for his great cruelty.[7]Unfortunately, Catherine did not bear Henry the sons he was desperate for; Catherine’s first child, a daughter, was stillborn, and her second child, a son named Henry, Duke of Cornwall, died 52 days after the birth. A further set of stillborn children were conceived, until a daughter Mary was born in 1516. When it became clear to Henry that the Tudor dynasty was at risk, he consulted his chief minister Cardinal Thomas Wolsey about the possibility of annulling his marriage to Catherine. Along with Henry’s concern that he would not have an heir, it was also obvious to his court that he was becoming tired of his aging wife, who was six years older than he. Wolsey visited Rome, where he hoped to get the Pope’s consent for an annulment. However, the church was reluctant to rescind the earlier papal dispensation and felt heavy pressure from Catherine’s nephew, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, in support of his aunt. Catherine contested the proceedings, and a protracted legal battle followed. Wolsey fell from favour as a result of his failure to procure the annulment, and Henry appointed Thomas Cromwell in his place. Despite his failure to produce the results that Henry wanted, Wolsey actively pursued the annulment—divorce was synonymous with annulment at that time—however, he never planned that Henry would marry Anne Boleyn, with whom the king had become enamoured while she was lady-in-waiting in Queen Catherine’s household. It is unclear how far Wolsey was actually responsible for the Reformation, but it is very clear that Henry’s desire to marry Anne Boleyn precipitated the schism with the Church. Henry’s concern about having an heir to secure his family line and increase his security while alive would have prompted him to ask for a divorce sooner or later, whether Anne had precipitated it or not. Only Wolsey’s sudden death at Leicester[8] on his journey to the Tower of London saved him from the public humiliation and inevitable execution he would have suffered upon his arrival at the Tower.[9]

Break with Rome[edit]

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, Henry VIII’s chief minister responsible for theDissolution of the Monasteries

In order to allow Henry to divorce his wife, the English parliament enacted laws breaking ties with Rome, and declaring the king Supreme Head of the Church of England (from Elizabeth I the monarch is known as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England), thus severing the ecclesiastical structure of England from the Catholic Church and the Pope. The newly appointedArchbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, was then able to declare Henry’s marriage to Catherine annulled. Catherine was removed from Court, and she spent the last three years of her life in various English houses under “protectorship,” similar to house arrest.[10] This allowed Henry to marry one of his courtiers Anne Boleyn, the daughter of a minor diplomat Sir Thomas Boleyn. Anne had become pregnant by the end of 1532 and gave birth on 7 September 1533 to Elizabeth named in honour of Henry’s mother.[11]Anne may have had later pregnancies which ended in miscarriage or stillbirth. In May 1536, Anne was arrested, along with six courtiers. Thomas Cromwell stepped in again, claiming that Anne had taken lovers during her marriage to Henry, and she was tried for high treason, witchcraft and incest; these charges were most likely fabricated, but she was found guilty, and executed in May 1536.

Henry VIII of England: Henry’s quarrels with the Pope led to the creation of theChurch of England

Protestant alliance[edit]

Henry married again, for the third time, to Jane Seymour, the daughter of a Wiltshire knight, and with whom he had become enamoured while she was still a lady-in-waiting to QUEEN ANNE. Jane became pregnant, and in 1537 produced a son, who became King Edward VI following Henry’s death in 1547. Jane died of puerperal fever only a few days after the birth, leaving Henry devastated. Cromwell continued to gain the king’s favour when he designed and pushed through the Laws in Wales Acts, uniting England and Wales.

In 1540 Henry married for the fourth time to the daughter of a Protestant German duke, Anne of Cleves, thus forming an alliance with the Protestant German states. Henry was reluctant to marry again, especially to a Protestant, but he was persuaded when the court painter Hans Holbein the Younger showed him a flattering portrait of her. She arrived in England in December 1539, and Henry rode to Rochester to meet her on 1 January 1540. Although the historian Gilbert Burnet claimed that Henry called her aFlanders Mare, there is no evidence that he said this; in truth, court ambassadors negotiating the marriage praised her beauty. Whatever the circumstances were, the marriage failed, and Anne agreed to a peaceful annulment, assumed the title My Lady, the King’s Sister, and received a massive divorce settlement, which included Richmond Palace, Hever Castle, and numerous other estates across the country. Although the marriage made sense in terms of foreign policy, Henry was still enraged and offended by the match. Henry chose to blame Cromwell for the failed marriage, and ordered him beheaded on 28 July 1540.[12] Henry kept his word and took care of Anne in his last years alive; however, after his death Anne suffered from extreme financial hardship because Edward VI’s councillors refused to give her any funds and confiscated the homes she had been given. She pleaded to her brother to let her return home, but he only sent a few agents who tried to assist in helping her situation and refused to let her return home. Anne died on 16 July 1557 in Chelsea Manor.[13]

Thomas Cranmer, Henry’s first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, responsible for the Book of Common Prayerduring Edward VI’s reign

The fifth marriage was to the Catholic Catherine Howard, the niece of Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk, who was promoted by Norfolk in the hope that she would persuade Henry to restore the Catholic religion in England. Henry called her his “rose without a thorn”, but the marriage ended in failure. Henry’s fancy with Catherine started before the end of his marriage with Anne when she was still a member of Anne’s court. Catherine was young and vivacious, but Henry’s age made him less inclined to use Catherine in the bedroom; rather, he preferred to admire her, which Catherine soon grew tired of. Catherine, forced into a marriage to an unattractive, OBESE man over 30 years her senior, had never wanted to marry Henry, and conducted an affair with the King’s favourite, Thomas Culpeper, while Henry and she were married. During her questioning, Catherine first denied everything but eventually she was broken down and told of her infidelity and her pre-nuptial relations with other men. Henry, first enraged, threatened to torture her to death but later became overcome with grief and self-pity. She was accused of treason and was executedon 13 February 1542, destroying the English Catholic holdouts’ hopes of a national reconciliation with the Catholic Church. Her execution also marked the end of the Howard family’s power within the court.[14]

By the time Henry conducted another Protestant marriage with his final wife Catherine Parr in 1543, the old Roman Catholic advisers, including the powerful third Duke of Norfolk had lost all their power and influence. The duke himself was still a committed Catholic, and he was nearly persuaded to arrest Catherine for preaching Lutheran doctrines to Henry while she attended his ill health. However, she managed to reconcile with the King after vowing that she had only argued about religion with him to take his mind off the suffering caused by his ulcerous leg. Her peacemaking also helped reconcile Henry with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth and fostered a good relationship between her and the crown prince.

Meanwhile, Edward was brought up a strict and devout Protestant by numerous tutors, including Bishop Richard Cox, John Belmain, and Sir John Cheke. The lady in charge of his upbringing was Blanche Herbert Lady Troy, whose ancestors had residual Lollard connections.[15] Her elegy includes the lines: …To King Edward she was a true – (And) wise lady of dignity, – In charge of his fosterage (she was pre-eminent)….[16]

Edward VI: Protestant extremity[edit]

Henry died on 28 January 1547. His will had reinstated his daughters by his annulled marriages to Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn to the line of succession, but did not legitimise them. (Because his marriages had been annulled, they legally never occurred, so his children by those marriages were illegitimate.) In the event that all 3 of his children died without heir, the will stipulated that the descendant of his younger sister Mary would take precedence over the descendants of his elder sister, Margaret, Queen of Scotland. Edward, his nine-year old son by Jane Seymour, succeeded as Edward VI of England. Unfortunately, the young King’s kingdom was usually in turmoil between nobles who were trying to strengthen their own position in the kingdom by using the Regency in their favour.[17]

The title page of Archbishop Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer, 1549

Duke of Somerset’s England[edit]

Although Henry had specified a group of men to act as regents during Edward’s minority, Edward Seymour, Edward’s uncle, quickly seized complete control, and created himself Duke of Somerset on 15 February 1547. His domination of the Privy Council, the king’s most senior body of advisers, was unchallenged. Somerset aimed to unite England and Scotland by marrying Edward to the young Scottish queen Mary, and aimed to forcibly impose the English Reformation on the Church of Scotland. Somerset led a large and well equipped army to Scotland, where he and the Scottish regent James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, commanded their armies at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh on 10 September 1547. Somerset’s army eventually defeated the Scots, but the young Queen Mary was smuggled to France, where she was betrothed to the Dauphin, the future Francis II of France. Despite Somerset’s disappointment that no Scottish marriage would take place, his victory at Pinkie Cleugh made his position appear unassailable.

Meanwhile, Edward VI, despite the fact that he was only a child of nine, had his mind set on religious reform. In 1549, Edward ordered the publication of the Book of Common Prayer, containing the forms of worship for daily and Sunday church services. The controversial new book was not welcomed by either reformers or Catholic conservatives; and it was especially condemned in Devonand Cornwall, where traditional Catholic loyalty was at its strongest. In Cornwall at the time, many of the people could only speak theCornish language, so the uniform English Bibles and church services were not understood by many. This caused the Prayer Book Rebellion, in which groups of Cornish non-conformists gathered round the mayor. The rebellion worried Somerset, now Lord Protector, and he sent an army to impose military solution to the rebellion. One in ten of the indigenous Cornish population was slaughtered.[dubious ] The rebellion did not persuade Edward to tread carefully, and only hardened his attitude towards Catholic non-conformists. This extended to Edward’s elder sister, the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor, who was a pious and devout Catholic. Although called before the Privy Council several times to renounce her faith and stop hearing the Catholic Mass, she refused. He had a good relationship with his sister Elizabeth, who was a Protestant, albeit a moderate one, but this was strained when Elizabeth was accused of having an affair with the Duke of Somerset’s brother, Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley, the husband of Henry’s last wife Catherine Parr. Elizabeth was interviewed by one of Edward’s advisers, and she was eventually found not to be guilty, despite forced confessions from her servants Catherine Ashley and Thomas Parry. Thomas Seymour was arrested and beheaded on 20 March 1549.

A small boy with a big mind: Edward VI, desperate for a Protestant succession, changed his father’s will to allow Lady Jane Grey to become queen

Problematic succession[edit]

Lord Protector Somerset was also losing favour. After forcibly removing Edward VI to Windsor Castle, with the intention of keeping him hostage, Somerset was removed from power by members of the council, led by his chief rival, John Dudley, the first Earl of Warwick, who created himself Duke of Northumberland shortly after his rise. Northumberland effectively became Lord Protector, but he did not use this title, learning from the mistakes his predecessor made. Northumberland was furiously ambitious, and aimed to secure Protestant uniformity while making himself rich with land and money in the process. He ordered churches to be stripped of all traditional Catholic symbolism, resulting in the plainness often seen in Church of England churches today. A revision of the Book of Common Prayer was published in 1552. When Edward VI became ill in 1553, his advisers looked to the possible imminent accession of the Catholic Lady Mary, and feared that she would overturn all the reforms made during Edward’s reign. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the dying Edward himself who feared a return to Catholicism, and wrote a new will repudiating the 1544 will of Henry VIII. This gave the succession to his cousin Lady Jane Grey, the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister Mary Tudor, who, after the death ofLouis XII of France in 1515 had married Henry VIII’s favourite Charles Brandon, the first Duke of Suffolk. Lady Jane’s mother wasLady Frances Brandon, the daughter of Suffolk and Princess Mary. Northumberland married Jane to his youngest son Guildford Dudley, allowing himself to get the most out of a necessary Protestant succession. Most of Edward’s council signed the Devise for the Succession, and when Edward VI died on 6 July 1553 from his battle with tuberculosis, Lady Jane was proclaimed queen. However, the popular support for the proper Tudor dynasty–even a Catholic member–overruled Northumberland’s plans, and Jane, who had never wanted to accept the crown, was deposed after just nine days. Mary’s supporters joined her in a triumphal procession to London, accompanied by her younger sister Elizabeth.

Mary I: A troubled queen’s reign[edit]

Mary I of England, who tried to return England to the Roman Catholic Church

However, Mary soon announced that she was intending to marry the Spanish prince Philip, son of her mother’s nephew Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The prospect of a marriage alliance with Spain proved unpopular with the English people, who were worried that Spain would use England as a satellite, involving England in wars without the popular support of the people. Popular discontent grew; a Protestant courtier, Thomas Wyatt the younger led a rebellion against Mary, with the aim of deposing and replacing her with her half-sister Elizabeth. The plot was discovered, and Wyatt’s supporters were hunted down and killed. Wyatt himself was tortured, in the hope that he would give evidence that Elizabeth was involved so that Mary could have her executed for treason. Wyatt never implicated Elizabeth, and he was beheaded. Elizabeth spent her time between different prisons, including the Tower of London.

Mary married Philip at Winchester Cathedral, on 25 July 1554. Philip found her unattractive, and only spent a minimal amount of time with her. Despite Mary believing she was pregnant numerous times during her five-year reign, she never reproduced. Devastated that she rarely saw her husband, and anxious that she was not bearing an heir to Catholic England, Mary became bitter. In her determination to restore England to the Catholic faith and to secure her throne from Protestant threats, she had many Protestants burnt at the stake between 1555 and 1558. Mary’s main goal was to restore the Catholic faith to England; however, theMarian Persecutions were unpopular with the Protestant majority of England, though naturally supported by the Catholic minority. Because of her actions against the Protestants, Mary is to this day referred to as “Bloody Mary”. English author Charles Dickensstated that “as bloody Queen Mary this woman has become famous, and as Bloody Queen Mary she will ever be remembered with horror and detestation”[18]

Protestants Hugh Latimer andNicholas Ridley being burned at the stake during Mary’s reign

Mary’s dream of a resurrected Catholic Tudor dynasty was finished, and her popularity further declined when she lost the last English area on French soil, Calais, to Francis, Duke of Guise, on 7 January 1558. Mary’s reign, however, introduced a new coining system that would be used until the 18th century, and her marriage to Philip II created new trade routes for England. Mary’s government took a number of steps towards reversing the inflation, budgetary deficits, poverty, and trade crisis of her kingdom. She explored the commercial potential of Russian, African, and Baltic markets, revised the customs system, worked to counter the currency debasements of her predecessors, amalgamated several revenue courts, and strengthened the governing authority of the middling and larger towns.[19] Mary also welcomed the first Russian ambassador to England, creating relations between England and Russia for the first time. Had she lived a little longer, then the Catholic religion that she worked so hard to restore into the realm may have taken deeper roots than it did; however, Mary died on 17 November 1558 at the relatively young age of 42.[20] Elizabeth Tudor, age 25, then succeeded to become Elizabeth I of England.

The age of intrigues and plots: Elizabeth I[edit]

Elizabeth I at hercoronation on 15 January 1559

Elizabeth I, who was staying at Hatfield House at the time of her accession, rode to London to the cheers of both the ruling class and the common people.

When Elizabeth came to the throne, there was much apprehension among members of the council appointed by Mary, due to the fact that many of them (as noted by the Spanish ambassador) had participated in several plots against Elizabeth, such as her imprisonment in the Tower, trying to force her to marry a foreign prince and thereby sending her out of the realm, and even pushing for her death.[21] In response to their fear, she chose as her chief minister Sir William Cecil, a Protestant, and former secretary to Lord Protector the Duke of Somerset and then to the Duke of Northumberland. Under Mary, he had been spared, and often visited Elizabeth, ostensibly to review her accounts and expenditure. He was the cousin and friend of Blanche Parry, the closest person to Elizabeth for 56 years.[22] Elizabeth also appointed her personal favourite, the son of the Duke of Northumberland Lord Robert Dudley, her Master of the Horse, giving him constant personal access to the queen.

The early years[edit]

Elizabeth had a long, turbulent path to the throne. She had a number of problems during her childhood, one of the main ones being after the execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. When Anne was beheaded, Henry declared Elizabeth an illegitimate child and she would, therefore, not be able to inherit the throne. After the death of her father, she was raised by his widow, Catherine Parr and her husband Thomas Seymour, 1st Baron Seymour of Sudeley. A scandal arose with her and the Lord Admiral to which she stood trial. During the examinations, she answered truthfully and boldly and all charges were dropped. She was an excellent student, well-schooled in Latin, French, Italian, and somewhat in Greek, and was a talented writer.[23][24] She was supposedly a very skilled musician as well, in both singing and playing the lute. After the rebellion of Thomas Wyatt the younger, Elizabeth was imprisoned in theTower of London. No proof could be found that Elizabeth was involved and she was released and retired to the countryside until the death of her sister, Mary I of England.[25]

Imposing the Church of England[edit]

Elizabeth was a moderate Protestant; she was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who played a key role in the English Reformation in the 1520s. She had been brought up by Blanche Herbert Lady Troy. At her coronation in January 1559, many of the bishops – Catholic, appointed by Mary, who had expelled many of the Protestant clergymen when she became queen in 1553 – refused to perform the service in English. Eventually, the relatively minor Bishop of Carlisle, Owen Oglethorpe, performed the ceremony; but when Oglethorpe attempted to perform traditional Catholic parts of the Coronation, Elizabeth got up and left. Following the Coronation, two important Acts were passed through parliament: the Act of Uniformity and the Act of Supremacy, establishing the Protestant Church of England and creating Elizabeth Supreme Governor of the Church of England (Supreme Head, the title used by her father and brother, was seen as inappropriate for a woman ruler). These acts, known collectively as the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, made it compulsory to attend church services every Sunday; and imposed an oath on clergymen and statesmen to recognise the Church of England, the independence of the Church of England from the Catholic Church, and the authority of Elizabeth as Supreme Governor. Elizabeth made it clear that if they refused the oath the first time, they would have a second opportunity, after which, if the oath was not sworn, the offenders would be deprived of their offices and estates.

Mary, Queen of Scots, who conspired with English nobles to take the English throne for herself

Pressure to marry[edit]

Even though Elizabeth was only twenty-five when she came to the throne, she was absolutely sure of her God-given place to be the queen and of her responsibilities as the ‘handmaiden of the Lord’. She never let anyone challenge her authority as queen, even though many people, who felt she was weak and should be married, tried to do so.[21] The popularity of Elizabeth was extremely high, but her Privy Council, her Parliament and her subjects thought that the unmarried queen should take a husband; it was generally accepted that, once a queen regnant was married, the husband would relieve the woman of the burdens of head of state. Also, without an heir, the Tudor dynasty would end; the risk of civil war between rival claimants was a possibility if Elizabeth died childless. Numerous suitors from nearly all European nations sent ambassadors to English court to put forward their suit. Risk of death came dangerously close in 1564 when Elizabeth caught smallpox; when she was most at risk, she named Robert Dudley as Lord Protector in the event of her death. After her recovery, she appointed Dudley to the Privy Council and created him Earl of Leicester, in the hope that he would marry Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary rejected him, and instead married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, a descendant of Henry VII, giving Mary a stronger claim to the English throne. Although many Catholics were loyal to Elizabeth, many also believed that, because Elizabeth was declared illegitimate after her parents’ marriage was annulled, Mary was the strongest legitimate claimant. Despite this, Elizabeth would not name Mary her heir; as she had experienced during the reign of her predecessor Mary I, the opposition could flock around the heir if they were disheartened with Elizabeth’s rule.

Pope St. Pius V, who issued the Papal bullexcommunicating Elizabeth and relieving her subjects of their allegiance to her

Numerous threats to the Tudor dynasty occurred during Elizabeth’s reign. In 1569, a group of Earls led by Charles Neville, the sixthEarl of Westmorland, and Thomas Percy, the seventh Earl of Northumberland attempted to depose Elizabeth and replace her withMary, Queen of Scots. In 1571, the Protestant-turned-Catholic Thomas Howard, the fourth Duke of Norfolk, had plans to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, and then replace Elizabeth with Mary. The plot, masterminded by Roberto di Ridolfi, was discovered and Norfolk was beheaded. The next major uprising was in 1601, when Robert Devereux, the second Earl of Essex, attempted to raise the city of London against Elizabeth’s government. The city of London proved unwilling to rebel; Essex and most of his co-rebels were executed. Threats also came from abroad. In 1570, Pope Pius V issued a Papal bull, Regnans in Excelsis, excommunicating Elizabeth, and releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her. Elizabeth came under pressure from Parliament to execute Mary, Queen of Scots, to prevent any further attempts to replace her; though faced with several official requests, she vacillated over the decision to execute an anointed queen. Finally, she was persuaded of Mary’s (treasonous) complicity in the plotting against her, and she signed the death warrant in 1586. Mary was executed at Fotheringay Castle on 8 February 1587, to the outrage of Catholic Europe.

There are many reasons debated as to why Elizabeth never married. It was rumoured that she was in love with Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, and that on one of her summer progresses she had birthed his illegitimate child. This rumour was just one of many that swirled around the two’s long-standing friendship. However, more important to focus on were the disasters that many women, such as Lady Jane Grey, suffered due to being married into the royal family. Her sister Mary’s marriage to Philip brought great contempt to the country, for many of her subjects despised Spain and Philip and feared that he would try to take complete control. Recalling her father’s disdain forAnne of Cleves, Elizabeth also refused to enter into a foreign match with a man that she had never seen before, so that also eliminated a large number of suitors.[26]

The Spanish Armada: Catholic Spain’s attempt to depose Elizabeth and take control of England

It was how Mary and Elizabeth were the last of the Tudor Dynasty

Last hopes of a Tudor heir[edit]

Despite the uncertainty of Elizabeth’s – and therefore the Tudor dynasty’s – hold on England, she never married. The closest she came to marriage was between 1579 and 1581, when she was courted by Francis, Duke of Anjou, the son ofHenry II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. Despite Elizabeth’s government constantly begging her to marry in the early years of her reign, it was now persuading Elizabeth not to marry the French prince for his mother, Catherine de’ Medici, was suspected of ordering the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of tens of thousands of French Protestant Huguenots in 1572. Elizabeth bowed to public feeling against the marriage, learning from the mistake her sister made when she married Philip II of Spain, and sent the Duke of Anjou away. Elizabeth knew that the continuation of the Tudor dynasty was now impossible; she was forty-eight in 1581, and too old to bear children. By far the most dangerous threat to the Tudor dynasty during Elizabeth’s reign was the Spanish Armada of 1588. Launched by Elizabeth’s old suitor Philip II of Spain, this was commanded by Alonso de Guzmán El Bueno, the seventh Duke of Medina Sidonia. The Spanish invasion fleet outnumbered the English fleet’s 22 galleons and 108 armed merchant ships; however, the Spanish lost as a result of bad weather on the English Channel and poor planning and logistics, and in the face of the skills ofSir Francis Drake and Charles Howard, the second Baron Howard of Effingham (later first Earl of Nottingham).

While Elizabeth declined physically with age, her running of the country continued to benefit her people. In response to famine across England due to bad harvests in the 1590s, Elizabeth introduced the poor law, allowing peasants who were too ill to work a certain amount of money from the state. All the money Elizabeth had borrowed from Parliament in 12 of the 13 parliamentary sessions was paid back; by the time of her death, Elizabeth not only had no debts, but was in credit. Elizabeth died childless at Richmond Palace on 24 March 1603. She never named a successor. However, her chief minister Sir Robert Cecil had corresponded with the Protestant King James VI of Scotland, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and James’s succession to the English throne was unopposed. The Tudor dynasty survived only in the female line, and the House of Stuart occupied the English throne for most of the following century.

Before and after comparisons[edit]

Public interference regarding the Roses dynasties was always a threat until the 17th century Stuart/Bourbon re-alignment occasioned by a series of events such as the execution of Lady Jane Grey, despite her brother in law, Leicester’s reputation in Holland, the Rising of the North (in which the old Percy-Neville feud and even anti-Scottish sentiment was discarded on account of religion; Northern England shared the same Avignonese bias as the Scottish court, on par with Valois France and Castile, which became the backbone of the Counter-Reformation, with Protestants being solidly anti-Avignonese) and death of Elizabeth I of England without children.

The Tudors made no substantial changes in their foreign policy from either Lancaster or York, whether the alliance was with Aragon or Cleves, the chief foreign enemies continuing as the Auld Alliance, but the Tudors resurrected old ecclesiastic arguments once pursued by Henry II of England and his son John of England. Yorkists were tied so much to the old order that Catholic rebellions (such as the Pilgrimage of Grace) and aspirations (exemplified by William Allen) were seen as continuing in their reactionary footsteps, when in opposition to the Tudors’ reformation policies, although the Tudors were not uniformly Protestant according to Continental definition—instead were true to their Lancastrian Beaufort allegiance, in the appointment of Reginald Pole.

The essential difference between the Tudors and their predecessors, is the nationalization and integration of John Wycliffe‘s ideas to the Church of England, holding onto the alignment of Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia, in which Anne’s Hussite brethren were in alliance to her husband’s Wycliffite countrymen against the Avignon Papacy. The Tudors otherwise rejected or suppressed other religious notions, whether for the Pope’s award of Fidei Defensor or to prevent them from being in the hands of the common laity, who might be swayed by cells of foreign Protestants, with whom they had conversation as Marian exiles, pursuing a strategy of containment which the Lancastrians had done (after being vilified by Wat Tyler), even though the phenomenon of “Lollard knights” (like John Oldcastle) had become almost a national sensation all on its own.

In essence, the Tudors followed a composite of Lancastrian (the court party) and Yorkist (the church party) policies. Henry VIII tried to extend his father’s balancing act between the dynasties for opportunistic interventionism in the Italian Wars, which had unfortunate consequences for his own marriages and the Papal States; the King furthermore tried to use similar tactics for the “via media” concept of Anglicanism. A further parallelism was effected by turning Ireland into a kingdom and sharing the same episcopal establishment as England, whilst enlarging England by the annexation of Wales. The progress to Northern/Roses government would thenceforth pass across the border into Scotland, in 1603, due not only to the civil warring, but also because the Tudors’ own dynasty was fragile and insecure, trying to reconcile the mortal enemies who had weakened England to the point of having to bow to new pressures, rather than dictate diplomacy on English terms.

Tudor monarchs of England and Ireland[1][edit]

The six Tudor monarchs were:

Portrait Name Birth Accession date Marriages Death Claim
Henry VII Henry VII 28 January 1457
Pembroke Castle
22 August 1485
(crowned atWestminster Abbey on 30 October 1485)
Elizabeth of York 21 April 1509
Richmond Palace
aged 52
Descent from Edward III of England through his mother Lady Margaret Beaufort.
Henry VIII Henry VIII
(first King of Ireland)[1]
28 June 1491
Greenwich Palace
21 April 1509
(crowned at Westminster Abbey on 24 June 1509)
(1) Catherine of Aragon
(2) Anne Boleyn
(3) Jane Seymour
(4) Anne of Cleves
(5) Catherine Howard
(6) Catherine Parr
28 January 1547
Palace of Whitehall
aged 55
Son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
Edward VI Edward VI1 12 October 1537
Hampton Court Palace
28 January 1547
(crowned at Westminster Abbey on 20 February 1547)
6 July 1553
Greenwich Palace
aged 15
Son of Henry VIII andJane Seymour
Lady Jane Grey Jane1
Bradgate Park
10 July 1553
(never crowned)
Lord Guildford Dudley 12 February 1554
executed at the Tower of London
aged 16–17
Great granddaughter of Henry VII; granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister,Mary Brandon (néeTudor), Duchess of Suffolk; first-cousin once removed of Edward VI
Mary I Mary I1 18 February 1516
Palace of Placentia
19 July 1553
(crowned at Westminster Abbey on 1 October 1553)
Philip II of Spain 17 November 1558
St James’s Palace
aged 42
Daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; known as “Bloody Mary” for burning Protestants during her reign.
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I1 7 September 1533
Greenwich Palace
17 November 1558
(crowned at Westminster Abbey on 15 January 1559)
24 March 1603
Richmond Palace
aged 69
Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn; known as “The Virgin Queen” or “Gloriana” during her reign.

1. ^ To the Tudor period belongs the elevation of the English-ruled state in Ireland from a Lordship to a Kingdom (1541) under Henry VIII.

Tudor Coats of Arms[edit]

Patrilineal descent[edit]

Patrilineal descent, the descent from a male ancestor in which all intervening ancestors are also male, is the principle behind membership in royal houses, as it can be traced back through the paternal line. Note that as siblings, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, share a generation number.

Royal House of Tudor[edit]

  1. Ednyfed Fychan, d. 1246
  2. Goronwy ab Ednyfed, Lord of Tres-gastell, d. 1268
  3. Tudur Hen, Lord of Penmynydd, d. 1311
  4. Goronwy ap Tudur Hen, d. 1331
  5. Tudur ap Goronwy, Lord of Penmynydd, d. 1367
  6. Maredudd ap Tudur, d. 1406
  7. Owen Tudor, 1400–1461
  8. Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, 1430–1456
  9. Henry VII of England, 1457–1509
  10. Henry VIII of England, 1491–1547
20a. Edward VI of England, 1537–1553
20b. Mary I of England, 1516–1558
20c. Elizabeth I of England, 1533–1603

Tudor Royal Armory[edit]

The Welsh Dragon supporter honored the Tudor’s Welsh origins. The most popular symbol of the house of Tudor was the Tudor rose (see top of page). WhenHenry Tudor took the crown of England from Richard III in battle, he brought about the end of the Wars of the Roses between the House of Lancaster (whose badge was a red rose) and the House of York (whose badge was a white rose). He married Elizabeth of York to bring all factions together. On his marriage, Henry adopted the Tudor Rose badge conjoining the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. It was used by every British Monarch since Henry VII as a Royal Badge.

In popular culture[edit]

Also see the entries on individual members of the Tudor dynasty.

House of Stuart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
House of Stewart (Stuart)
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1707-1714).svg
Last armorial of the Stuart monarch for use in Great Britain, 1707 to 1714
Country Kingdom of Scotland, Kingdom of England, Kingdom of Ireland,Kingdom of France,[note 1] Kingdom of Great Britain
Parent house Clan Stewart
Founded 1371
Founder Robert II of Scotland
Final ruler Anne, Queen of Great Britain
Current head Extinct[note 3]
Ethnicity Scottish, English
originally Normanized Breton, French [note 4]
Cadet branches Stewart of Appin
Stewart of Ardvorlich
Steuart of Ballechin
Stewart of Castle Stewart
Stewart of DarnleyStewart of Galloway

The House of Stewart (latterly gallicised to Stuart), is a European royal house. Founded by Robert II of Scotland, the Stewarts first became monarchs of the Kingdom of Scotland during the late 14th century, and subsequently held the position of the Kings of England, Ireland, and Great Britain. Their patrilineal ancestors (from Brittany) had held the office of High Steward of Scotland since the 12th century, after arriving by way of Norman England. The dynasty inherited further territory by the 17th century which covered the entire British Isles, including the Kingdom of Englandand Kingdom of Ireland, also maintaining a claim to the Kingdom of France.

In total, nine Stewart monarchs ruled just Scotland from 1371 until 1603. After this there was a Union of the Crownsunder James VI and I who had become the senior genealogical claimant to The Crown holdings of the extinct House of Tudor. Thus[clarification needed] there were six Stewart monarchs who ruled both England and Scotland as well as Ireland (although the later Stuart era was interrupted by an interregnum lasting from 1649 to 1660, as a result of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms). Additionally,[clarification needed] at the foundation of the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Acts of Union, which officially united England and Scotland politically, the first monarch was Anne, Queen of Great Britain. After her death, the kingdoms passed to the House of Hanover, under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Security 1704, which deprived the Catholic legitimist line of the Stewarts of the right to mount the throne.

During the reign of the Stewarts, Scotland developed from a relatively poor and feudal country into a prosperous, modern and centralised state.[clarification needed] They ruled during a time in European history of transition from theMiddle Ages, through the Renaissance, to the midpoint of the Early modern period. Monarchs such as James IV were known for sponsoring exponents of the Northern Renaissance such as the poet Robert Henryson, and others. After the Stewarts gained control of all of Great Britain, the arts and sciences continued to develop; many of William Shakespeare‘s best known plays were authored during the Jacobean era, while institutions such as the Royal Societyand Royal Mail were established during the reign of Charles II.



The name Stewart derives from the political position of office similar to a governor, known as a steward. It was originally adopted as the family surname by Walter Stewart, 3rd High Steward of Scotland, who was the third member of the family to hold the position. Prior to this, family names were not used, but instead they hadpatronyms defined through the father; for example the first two High Stewards were known as FitzAlan and FitzWalter respectively. During the 16th century the French spelling Stuart was adopted by Mary, Queen of Scots when she was living in France. She sanctioned the change to ensure the correct pronunciation of theScots version of the name Stewart, because retaining the letter ‘w’ would have made it difficult for French speakers, who usually render “w” as “v”. The spellingStuart was also used by her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley; he was the father of James VI and I, so the spelling Stuart for the British royal family officially derives from him.

Principal members of the house of Stuart following the 1603 Union of the Crowns.


The ancestral origins of the Stewart family are quite obscure—what is known for certain is that they can trace their ancestry back to Alan FitzFlaad, a Breton who came over to Great Britain not long after the Norman conquest.[2] Alan had been the hereditary steward of the Bishop of Dol in the Duchy of Brittany;[3] Alan had a good relationship with the ruling Norman monarch Henry I of England who awarded him with lands in Shropshire.[3] The FitzAlan family quickly established themselves as a prominent Anglo-Norman noble house, with some of its members serving as High Sheriff of Shropshire.[3][4] It was the great-grandson of Alan named Walter FitzAlan who became the first hereditary High Steward of Scotland, while his brother William’s family would go on to become Earls of Arundel.

When the civil war in the Kingdom of England, known as The Anarchy, broke out between legitimist claimant Matilda, Lady of the English and her cousin who had usurped her, King Stephen, Walter had sided with Matilda.[5] Another supporter of Matilda was her uncle David I of Scotland from the House of Dunkeld.[5] After Matilda was pushed out of England into the County of Anjou, essentially failing in her legitimist attempt for the throne, many of her supporters in England fled also. It was then that Walter followed David up to the Kingdom of Scotland, where he was granted lands in Renfrewshire and the title for life of Lord High Steward.[5] The next monarch of Scotland, Malcolm IV made the High Steward title a hereditary arrangement. While High Stewards, the family were based at Dundonald, Ayrshire between the 12th and 13th centuries.


undiffered arms of stewart

Stewart of Stewart

Arms of Stewart of Albany

Stewart of Albany

Arms of Stewart of Barclye

Stewart of Barclye

Arms of Stewart of Garlies

Stewart of Garlies

Arms of Stewart of Minto

Stewart of Minto

Arms of Stewart of Atholl

Stewart of Atholl

Arms of Stewart of Bute

Stewart of Bute

Arms of Stuart of Bute

Stuart of Bute

Arms of Stewart of Ardvorlich

Stewart of Ardvorlich

Arms of Stewart of Physgill

Stewart of Physgill

Arms of Stewart of Rothesay

Stewart of Rothesay

The sixth High Steward of Scotland, Walter Stewart (1293–1326), married Marjorie, daughter of Robert the Bruce, and also played an important part in the Battle of Bannockburn gaining further favour. Their son Robert was heir to the House of Bruce, the Lordship of Cunningham and the Bruce lands of Bourtreehill; he eventually inherited the Scottish throne when his uncle David II died childless in 1371.

In 1503, James IV attempted to secure peace with England by marrying King Henry VII‘s daughter, Margaret Tudor. The birth of their son, later James V, brought the House of Stewart into the line of descent of the House of Tudor, and the English throne. Margaret Tudor later married Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and their daughter,Margaret Douglas, was the mother of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. In 1565, Darnley married his half-cousin Mary, Queen of Scots, the daughter of James V. Darnley’s father was Matthew Stewart, 4th Earl of Lennox, a member of the Stewart of Darnley branch of the House. Lennox was a descendant of Alexander Stewart, 4th High Steward of Scotland, also descended from James II, being Mary’s heir presumptive. Thus Darnley was also related to Mary on his father’s side and because of this connection, Mary’s heirs remained part of the House of Stewart. Following John Stewart of Darnley‘s ennoblement for his part at the Battle of Baugé in 1421, and the grant of lands to him atAubigny and Concressault, the Darnley Stewarts’ surname was gallicised to Stuart.

Both Mary, Queen of Scots, and Lord Darnley had strong claims on the English throne, through their mutual grandmother, Margaret Tudor. This eventually led to the accession of the couple’s only child James as King of Scotland, England, and Ireland in 1603. However, this was a Personal Union, as the three Kingdoms shared a monarch, but had separate governments, churches, and institutions. Indeed the personal union did not prevent an armed conflict, known as the Bishops’ Wars, breaking out between England and Scotland in 1639. This was to become part of the cycle of political and military conflict that marked the reign of Charles I of England, Scotland & Ireland, culminating in a series of conflicts known as the War of the Three Kingdoms. The trial and execution of Charles I by the English Parliament in 1649 began 11 years of republican government known as the English Interregnum. Scotland initially recognised the late King’s son, also called Charles, as their monarch, before being subjugated and forced to enter Cromwell’s Commonwealth by General Monck‘s occupying army. During this period, the principal members of the House of Stuart lived in exile in mainland Europe. The younger Charles returned to Britain to assume his three thrones in 1660 as “Charles II of England, Scotland & Ireland”, but would date his reign from his father’s death eleven years before.

In feudal and dynastic terms, the Scottish reliance on French support was revived during the reign of Charles II, whose own mother was French. His sister Henriettamarried into the French Royal family. Charles II left no legitimate children, but his numerous illegitimate descendants included the Dukes of Buccleuch, the Dukes of Grafton, the Dukes of Saint Albans and the Dukes of Richmond.

Tombstone of the last members of the House of Stuart in the St. Peter’s Basilica – Work of Antonio Canova.

These French and Roman Catholic connections proved unpopular and resulted in the downfall of the Stuarts, whose mutual enemies identified with Protestantism and because James VII & II offended the Anglican establishment by proposing tolerance not only for Catholics but for Protestant Dissenters. The Glorious Revolution caused the overthrow of King James in favour of his son-in-law and his daughter, William and Mary. James continued to claim the thrones of England and Scotland to which he had been crowned, and encouragedrevolts in his name, and his grandson Charles (also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) led an ultimatelyunsuccessful rising in 1745, ironically becoming symbols of conservative rebellion and Romanticism. Some blame the identification of the Roman Catholic Church with the Stuarts for the extremely lengthy delay in the passage ofCatholic Emancipation until Jacobitism (as represented by direct Stuart heirs) was extinguished; however it was as likely to be caused by entrenched anti-Catholic prejudice among the Anglican establishment of England. Despite the Whig intentions of tolerance to be extended to Irish subjects, this was not the preference of Georgian Tories and their failure at compromise played a subsequent role in the present division of Ireland.[citation needed]


The Royal House of Stuart became extinct with the death of Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart, brother of Charles Edward Stuart, in 1807. Duke Francis of Bavaria is the current senior heir.[6] However, Charles II had a number of illegitimate sons whose surviving descendants in the male line include Charles Gordon-Lennox, 10th Duke of Richmond, Murray Beauclerk, 14th Duke of St Albans, Henry FitzRoy, 12th Duke of Grafton and Richard Scott, 10th Duke of Buccleuch. In addition, James II’s illegitimate son, James FitzJames, 1st Duke of Berwick, founded the House of FitzJames comprising two branches, one in France and one in Spain. The last of the French branch died in 1967 and the last of the Spanish branch, Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba died in November 2014.

List of monarchs

Monarchs of Scotland

Portrait Name From Until Relationship with predecessor
Robert II, King of Scotland.png Robert II of Scotland 22 February 1371 19 April 1390 nephew[7] of David II of Scotland who died without issue. Robert’s mother Marjorie Bruce was daughter of Robert I of Scotland.
Robert III, King of Scotland.png Robert III of Scotland 19 April 1390 4 April 1406 son of Robert II of Scotland.
King James I of Scotland.jpg James I of Scotland 4 April 1406 21 February 1437 son of Robert III of Scotland.
James II, King of Scotland.png James II of Scotland 21 February 1437 3 August 1460 son of James I of Scotland.
James III, King of Scotland.png James III of Scotland 3 August 1460 11 June 1488 son of James II of Scotland.
James IV of Scotland.jpg James IV of Scotland 11 June 1488 9 September 1513 son of James III of Scotland.
James V of Scotland2.jpg James V of Scotland 9 September 1513 14 December 1542 son of James IV of Scotland.
Mary I Queen of Scots.jpg Mary I of Scotland 14 December 1542 24 July 1567 daughter of James V of Scotland.

Monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland

These monarchs used the title “King/Queen of Great Britain”, although that title had no basis in law until the Acts of Union 1707 came into effect on 1 May 1707. Legally, they each simultaneously occupied two thrones, as “King/Queen of England” and “King/Queen of Scotland”.

Portrait Name From Until Relationship with predecessor
James VI of Scots.jpg James VI of Scotland
James I of England
24 July 1567
24 March 1603
27 March 1625 son of Mary, Queen of Scots and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. King of Scotland alone, 1567–1603, until inheriting the titles King of England and Ireland, including claim to France from the extinct Tudors.
Charles I (Daniel Mytens).jpg Charles I of England, Scotland & Ireland 27 March 1625 30 January 1649 (executed) son of James VI of Scotland & I of England & Ireland.
Charles II (1670s).jpg Charles II of England, Scotland & Ireland 30 January 1649 (de jure); 2 May 1660 (de facto) 6 February 1685 son of Charles I of England, Scotland & Ireland. Prohibited by Parliament from assuming the throne during a republican period of government known as theCommonwealth of England, but then accepted retroactively as king.
James II by John Riley.png James VII of Scotland
James II of England and Ireland
6 February 1685 13 February 1689 brother of Charles II of England, Scotland & Ireland, who died with without legitimate issue. Son of Charles I. Overthrown at theRevolution of 1688.
Queen Mary II.jpg Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland 13 February 1689 28 December 1694 daughter of James II of England and Ireland & VII of Scotland, who was still alive and pretending to the throne. Co-monarch wasWilliam III & II who outlived his wife.
Anniex.jpg Anne of Great Britain and Ireland 8 March 1702 1 August 1714 sister of Mary II. daughter of James II of England and Ireland & VII of Scotland. Name of state changed to Great Britain with the political Acts of Union 1707, though family has used title since James I & VI. Died issueless, rights pass to House of Hanover.

Armorial tablet of the Stewarts at Falkland Palace, Fife