Life in England Under the Tutor Monarchs between1485-1600
More than during any period before or after, the Tudor government was centered on a monarch. At that time people in England had to live and worship according to beliefs of their rulers. Shifts between England being a Protestant and a Catholic country were regular depending on which King was in power. Edward VI introduced Protestantism to the country, which was later heavily repressed by Mary Tudor, who rendered the religion almost powerless. Finally, Elizabeth attempted to resolve the major international issues and made remarkable effort to not allow the country to be divided on religious grounds. She found ways for both religions to be practiced, despite being a Protestant herself. Politics and religion underwent constant changes with every new monarch ruler, so the Tudor times became best known for political and religious unrest.
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Politics during the Tudor Times
Between 1485 and 1600 England was ruled by a new dynasty, the Tudors (Goodman, 2015). There were five Tudor monarchs. Tudors were the most feared and powerful monarchs. Henry VII was the first monarch of Tudor dynasty. He became king after killing Richard III at the battle on August 22, 1485 (Spielvogel, 2014). During Henry VIIs reign, there progressed a continuous war between the York family and the Lancaster family. Henry VII brought peace by marrying Elizabeth who originated from the York family (Goodman, 2015). They had four children, but only two ascended to power, namely, Henry and Mary.
Henry VII enacted policies that were successful, since they focused on establishing peace. They also intended to boost economic prosperity. For instance, by the Treaty of Etaples, much land was lost, but Henry had little interest of regaining it, because he knew that foreign wars were expensive (Spielvogel, 2014). Moreover, despite marrying Elizabeth to bring peace between the two families, there were other people who claimed the throne. Henry knew he had to control the nobility, so he ensured that most of these men were held captive. In 1487, a boy named Lambert Simnel, who resembled Warwick, one of the men who had been held captive for claiming the throne, was proclaimed king in Dublin (Kirk, 2014). Henry defeated the rebel without giving him a chance to consolidate forces. Four years later, a new imposter appeared; he was later captured and executed. Henry outlawed the maintenance of private armies, and by the end of his reign noblemen were engaged in other activities, rather than participating in civil wars and riots.
The next in line for the throne was Henry VIIs son, named Henry VIII. He was the most feared monarch in England. He became king in 1509 and deceased in January 1547 (Kirk, 2014). He was the main reason for the split of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Henry did not have the same approach to the government as his father. He wanted to be involved in the governments daily activities, almost driven by fear that if he did not control the government, he could lose it. He believed that the government could be entrusted only to the men who share and implement his policies. In fighting against France, Henry based his politics on alliance with Spain, because they agreed on who Scotland, Flandeis, and Calas would belong to (Spielvogel, 2014). Henry wanted to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, because she couldnt bear him an heir. However, the Pope disapproved of such decision, stating that it was against the church policy. After some time, the king acknowledged the presence of an illegitimate son, Henry Fitzoy, whom he named the Duke of Richmond. Later, the Archbishop canceled his marriage to Catherine, and Henry could get married to his then lover Anne Boleyn. The marriage with Anne forced him to separate from Rome; the parliament then adopted a document called Act of Supremacy that allowed the Anglican Church to be independent (Goodman, 2015). Nevertheless, king Henry III took part in foreign affairs and started the largest sea fleets in England during his last days.
Henry VIII was succeeded by his son Edward VI. The first and foremost threat to Edward VIs leadership was his age, for he became king being only nine years old. His youth made him vulnerable to manipulation. His first minister, Somerset used his power to enrich himself and his supporters (Goodman, 2015). Paradoxically, his successor was more passionate about working than Edward. Mary I came to the throne in 1553 (Goodman, 2015). Roads and river navigation were improved during her reign, and this meant that the policies had higher chances of being supported, as innovations would be known quicker and communication between royalty and local population would be more reliable. Marys marriage to Philip, a foreigner, affected her reign, as she was influenced by him and, as a result, did not keep the interest of her country as a top priority (Kirk, 2014). Mary I was succeeded by her half-sister Elizabeth after her death. Queen Elizabeth I is known as one of the greatest monarchs of England. She ruled for 45 years before her death in 1603 (Goodman, 2015). Her government was very well structured. It comprised of three bodies: the monarch, Privy Council, and the parliament, the last of which adopted laws and decisions on religion, raised money, and regulated expenditure.
Religion during the Tudor Times
During the Tudor times, people were very religious and held staunch beliefs. Every person was ready to die for what he or she believed in. At that time, religion changed according to the views and beliefs of the ruling monarch. This confused many people, since they were told to change their way of worship, their beliefs, and even church decorations. Laws were made by queens and kings to change religion and make people believe in what they believed in and worship how they worshiped.
Between 1485 and 1509, England was a Catholic country (Spielvogel, 2014). This was under the rule of Henry VII. Henry VIIIs reign, particularly the period between 1509 and 1547, also saw England as a Catholic country (Spielvogel, 2014). When Henry VIII came to power, he defended the Catholic Church. He did not agree with any views of the Protestants and considered them inappropriate. Henry VIII was honored the title Defender of Faith by Pope Leo X in 1521 for his support of the Roman Church (Goodman, 2015). Later, Henry VIII separated from the Roman Church, because the Pope refused to grant him a divorce from his first wife, stating that it was against the Church policy. This prompted him to separate from the Roman Church. He then became the head of the new Church of England. Nevertheless, England retained much of the Catholicism and its doctrine practices despite separation from the Roman Church. In 1535, Henry VIII initiated closure of Roman Catholic monasteries, convents, and abbeys (Spielvogel, 2014). This was referred to as the Dissolution of the Monasteries. England retained Catholicism until his death when his son took over.
Henrys son, Edward VI took over and ruled between 1547 and 1553 (Kirk, 2014). He and his advisors converted England to a protestant country. He was raised under strict protestant doctrines. Edward VI introduced a new prayer book and ensured that English was the language Church services were conducted in (Goodman, 2015). During his reign, Catholic bishops were harshly treated and often imprisoned. When Mary I took over in 1553, England was converted back to a Catholic nation. She was a staunch Catholic, and during her reign the Pope became the head of the Church again. Church services were now conducted in Latin (Goodman, 2015). Her last three years saw Protestants suffer severely. She commanded the burning of 300 leading Protestants to death, because they could not accept Catholic beliefs (Spielvogel, 2014). This gave her the nickname Bloody Mary. Her reign ended in 1558, and Queen Elizabeth I took over.
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England became a protestant nation again. The Anglican Church became dominant. Queen Elizabeth I did her best to ensure England was not divided on religious grounds (Goodman, 2015). She tried to find ways to make both parties were satisfied. She was known as the Supreme governor (Kirk, 2014). Although she adhered to protestant beliefs, she allowed bishops and priests from the Catholic religion. Queen Elizabeth I produced an English prayer book, but also allowed a Latin print of the same book to be produced (Goodman, 2015). Queen Elizabeth I disliked and punished extremists who wanted to convert others to their faith. Such approach helped to prevent divisions within the country on religious grounds.
The Tudor era was the time of challenge in religion and politics. The period is best known for religious unrest. Each Tudor monarch focused on introducing his or her own changes based on what he or she thought was the best. The time was characterized by continuity, since religions alternated between Protestantism and Catholicism. Furthermore, England remained with Spain and France, its two main counterparts. From Tudor dynasty, Henry VIII was very aggressive. He fought many wars and signed many treaties. Other monarchy rulers were more defensive. Regular changes of religion and politics were a characteristic feature of the Tudor period.