Kings & Queens of England


The Tudors descended in the female line from John Beaufort, one of the illegitimate children of John of Gaunt (third surviving son of Edward III), by Gaunt's long-term mistress Katherine Swynford.


Those descended from English monarchs only through an illegitimate child would normally have no claim on the throne, but the situation was complicated when Gaunt & Swynford eventually married in 1396 (25 years after John Beaufort's birth). In view of the marriage, the church retroactively declared the Beauforts legitimate via a papal bull the same year, & Parliament did the same in an Act in 1397. A subsequent proclamation by John of Gaunt's legitimate son, King Henry IV, also recognised the Beauforts' legitimacy, but declared them ineligible ever to inherit the throne.


Nevertheless, the Beauforts remained closely allied with Gaunt's other descendants, the Royal House of Lancaster. John Beaufort's granddaughter Lady Margaret Beaufort was married to Edmund Tudor. Tudor was the son of Welsh courtier Owain Tudur (anglicised to Owen Tudor) & Catherine of Valois, the widow of the Lancastrian King Henry V. Edmund Tudor & his siblings were either illegitimate, or the product of a secret marriage, & owed their fortunes to the goodwill of their legitimate half-brother King Henry VI. When the House of Lancaster fell from power, the Tudors followed.


By the late 15th century, the Tudors were the last hope for the Lancaster supporters. Edmund Tudor's son became king as Henry VII after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, winning the Wars of the Roses. King Henry married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, thereby uniting the Lancastrian & York lineages.

With Henry VIII's break from the Roman Catholic Church, the monarch became the Supreme Head of the Church of England & of the Church of Ireland. Elizabeth I's title became the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

The House of Tudor 1485-1603


Henry VII

Reigned: 22 August 1485 - 21 April 1509

  • Born: 28 January 1457

  • Married: Elizabeth of York (1486)

  • Died: 21 April 1509


Henry VIII

R: 22 April 1509 - 28 January 1547

  • Born: 28 June 1491

  • Married: (1) Catherine of Aragon (1509);

  • (2) Anne Boleyn (1533);

  • (3) Jane Seymour (1536);

  • (4) Anne of Cleves (1540);

  • (5) Catherine Howard (1540);

  • (6) Catherine Parr (1543)

  • Died: 28 January 1547