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Tudors and Stuarts

1485 - 1714

Tudor History

From 1485 to 1714, Tudor and Stuart history in the UK was marked by significant political, religious, and cultural transformations, including the consolidation of royal power, the Protestant Reformation, the English Civil War, the Glorious Revolution, and the establishment of parliamentary sovereignty.

The Tudor dynasty, beginning with Henry VII’s accession in 1485, brought stability to England after the Wars of the Roses. Henry VIII’s reign witnessed the English Reformation, as he broke with the Catholic Church over his desire for a divorce, establishing the Church of England and dissolving monasteries.

Under Elizabeth I, England experienced a golden age of exploration, commerce, and literature, marked by the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the flourishing of playwrights like William Shakespeare. However, Elizabeth’s death in 1603 without a direct heir led to the Stuart succession.

The Stuarts

The Stuart dynasty faced challenges from Parliament, religious conflicts, and struggles for power. James I’s belief in divine right monarchy clashed with Parliament’s desire for greater influence, leading to tensions that would escalate during the reign of his son, Charles I.

Charles I’s attempts to rule without Parliament’s consent led to the English Civil War (1642-1651) between royalists and parliamentarians. The execution of Charles I in 1649 marked the first time a reigning English monarch was executed by his own subjects, resulting in the establishment of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell.

The Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 saw Charles II ascend to the throne, ushering in a period of relative stability and cultural revival. However, tensions between Crown and Parliament persisted, leading to the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

The Glorious Revolution saw the overthrow of James II, a Catholic monarch, and the ascension of William III and Mary II to the throne. The Bill of Rights of 1689 affirmed parliamentary supremacy, limited the powers of the monarchy, and established Protestant succession, laying the foundation for modern constitutional monarchy.

The Stuart line continued with Anne, the last Stuart monarch, who reigned from 1702 to 1714. Her reign was marked by the War of the Spanish Succession and the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707, creating the Kingdom of Great Britain.

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