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Tudor Period 1485 - 1603 CE

The Tudor period. Use the Tudor timeline, drill down to discover the latest articles and images. Unravel the intricacies of this complicated period, the power of monarchs, people and the church.
What conclusions can be drawn about this tumultuous time? Read on for a synopsis of the Tudors.


The Tudor period arrives on the battlefield of Bosworth

In 1485 when Henry Tudor stood, victorious, on the battlefield at Bosworth, there can have been no idea of the impact that the new age, the time of the Tudors, would have. It must have seemed for most, just another twist in the story that would become known as the War of The Roses. Just another grab for the throne of England. Henry Tudor lacked a good claim to the throne. It depended on the one hand upon the marriage of his grandfather Owen ap Tudor to the widow of King Henry V. On the other, it depended upon the descent from an illegitimate child of John of Gaunt, whose line had been specifically excluded from succession but had subsequently been recognized upon the legitimate marriage to Katherine Swynnford. Not an auspicious start then. However half a century later the accession of the Tudors seemed logical and indeed the beginning of a new era but how was that acceptance achieved?

One man with a head on his shoulders is worth a dozen without
Queen Elizabeth I

Tudor Period

Battle of Bosworth

The new Tudor King

Henry VII took care not to be too radical and he strove to keep control of all government matters, he was organized and oversaw all he could, without involving others. He knew his position was tenuous. He was, on the face of it, industrious and ruled with a powerful authority, with Majesty. He believed in the crown, he had to, if the Tudors were to become successful. He had to eliminate rival claimants and there were many. The previous royal family had married and intermarried with a range of aristocratic families and there were many who could claim 'royalty', it had got too complicated. Henry married Elizabeth of York, seemingly uniting the houses York and Lancaster and in that moment created a brand, the Tudor Rose that came to symbolize the new era, the Tudor Period.

Tudor Period

The Tudor Rose


Tudor Politics had replaced war as the key to power.

In the Tudor Period the Court became the place to aspire to. The monarch became 'Majestic' and pomp and ceremony were prevalent throughout the court. When Henry VII  died there was a succession without bloodshed. The loss of his heir Arthur, resulted in the crowning of his second son Henry. King Henry VIII was an academic, a sportsman, a man who loved arts and music. What he did not love quite as much was government.

The rise of Cardinal Wolsey

Tudor Period

Henry got around this by having at his side another man whose brilliance matched his own, Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey was an extraordinary man, risen from a very humble background, he was right hand man to the King but the King took a direction with which Wolsey could not agree, the annulment of his marriage to Catherine his widowed brothers wife. The battle with the Catholic church had begun. The string began to unravel and nobody could have foreseen the long term consequences of the King's desire. Wolsey was removed and Henry turned to his council to give him the support he needed. He was lucky they had had enough of the power and wealth of the church and were in no mood for another Wolsey.

The English Reformation.

This was one of the most important events in English history. Although hostility to Papal power was no new thing in England under Henry it took on a new and purposeful dimension, wrapped up in his matrimonial problems.

The new man, Thomas Cromwell, was capable of masterminding the King's plan and parliament towed the line. An act known as the Submission of Clergy delivered the church into Henry's hands and then the Act in Restraint of Appeals which severed the church in England from Rome and created the Church of England and replaced the Pope with the King.

The next step seemed obvious, the King needed to tie in those who had supported him, he could split the spoils of the land and property with them and he needed money. The dissolution of the monasteries had begun.

What is surprising that there was so little resistance amongst the people, only in the north was resistance met and this was dealt with harshly. Cromwell continued to mould parliament to the needs of the King and his influence changed England forever but he too died at the hands of a fickle king.

King Henry VIII Six Wives

The six wives of Henry VIII are just as fascinating as the King himself. Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleeves and Catherine Parr.

The need for Henry to produce an heir was his constant concern to his death in 1547

He left three children, Mary, Elizabeth and Edward and they were as polarized in their religion as much of the country now was, Mary the Catholic, Edward the Protestant and Elizabeth somewhere in between. And so the country entered a turbulent decade not just about religion but high inflation, landowners keeping more sheep to raise more money led to enclosure. The need to raise money to counter inflation led to the creation of merchants companies to an expansion of the trade markets. Land ownership became the new power house. The rich got richer but enclosure and poor harvests meant the poor became poorer.

Tudor King Edward VI

The Duke of Somerset was made protector of the realm, a weak politician but a man with heart who cared about the conditions of the poor. He was in charge of an intelligent, opinionated young king who wanted religious change taken further. Reformers placed more and more constraints on religious practices. The churches were stripped and the Book of Common Prayer was written. Somerset was ousted and that old style battle amongst the great families for control of a young king began all over again. Another Warwick, the Duke of Cumberland dominated the king. The rush to grab control escalated when the young King Edward was known to be dying. Desperate not to allow the succession to pass to the Catholic Mary, the King and Northumberland scrabbled to marry his son to the niece of King Henry VIII and then to bully parliament into changing the succession and Lady Jane became Queen.

Tudor Queen Mary I

This was a huge mistake Mary gathered her supporters and took the throne but the support was for her not her faith. She would only marry the Habsburg Emperor Charles V's son Philip. A gentle return to the Catholic faith may have worked for Mary but her zealous passion for her faith, the revival of the heresy laws, left her totally exposed. Through her marriage England became dragged into war with France and the short reign of Mary came to an end.

Tudor Queen Elizabeth I

How fortunate was England that the third of King Henry's children was Elizabeth. She reigned for forty Five years and was the last Tudor to sit upon the throne. She was a Queen who understood her people, she was perceptive and cautious, her judgement sound. England reverted to being Protestant but it was a more radical form of Protestantism than Elizabeth wanted. She attempted to sail a course through statutes to bring to the people the middle road of Protestantism, where there was tolerance of Catholics but it was a difficult course and the state of the Anglican church evolved only slowly through her reign.

Things changed when the Pope excommunicated the Queen, the people now had to choose between their Queen and the Pope, the majority chose the former. Catholics became further marginalized and the martyrdoms began.

Queen Elizabeth's reign was extraordinary, she showed courage in the face of the Spanish Armada, she encouraged exploration and the opening up of new lands and markets. She ruled as no monarch before her ever had. She did not marry and sorted her succession from a point of well thought through wisdom.

When Queen Elizabeth I died she left a country that was completely different to that of her grandfather King Henry VII. The Tudor Period lasted for 118 years and the face of England was changed forever.






DatesTudor Period Timeline and ChronologyCategories
1485 22/08/1485Henry Tudor wins battle of Bosworth thus bringing to an end the War of the Roses and becomes Henry VIIRoyalty Battles
1485 30/10/1485Henry VII crowned King of England. Henry Tudor claimed royal blood through his mother's paternal descent from the illegitimate line of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford, in addition Henry's father Edmund Tudor was the grandson of Catherine of Valois, former Queen Consort of King Henry V.Royalty
1485 16/12/1485Birth of Katherine of Aragon. She is the youngest child of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of SpainRoyalty
1486 16/01/1486Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. Henry VII cemented his succession and settled the friction between the Yorkists and Lancastrians by marrying the Yorkist heiRoyalty
1486 20/09/1486Birth of Arthur, Prince of Wales. Keen to tie the Tudors to the oldest royal houses they name their son Arthur after King Arthur of Cadwaldr, from whom they claim descent. Royalty
1487 25/11/1487Elizabeth of York is crowned Queen consort of EnglandRoyalty
1489 27/03/1489Treaty of Medina el Campobetween England and Spain. This treaty agrees for the betrothal between Katherine of Aragon and Prince Arthur. They agreed a common policy towards their enemy France and a reduction in tarrifs between the two countries.

1489 28/11/1489Princess Margaret is born, daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Her descendants will found the Stuart dynasty.Royalty
1490An anatomical theatre is built in Italy for the dissection of corpsesScience
1491 28/06/1491Birth of Prince Henry, future Henry VIIIRoyalty
1492Christopher Columbus sets sail on one of four voyages around the worldExploration
1492Graphite is used in pencils for the first time in EnglandScience
1494The first paper mill is built in England, possibly on the River Meon in HampshirePrinting
1496 18/03/1496Princess Mary is born daughter of King Henry VIIRoyalty
1497 16/06/1497Battle of Stoke Field ended the pretender's, Lambert Simnel's, uprisingBattles
1497 17/06/1497Battle of Blackheath: Henry VII led 25,000 men to defeat the rebels of the First Cornish Rebellion who were encouraged by the pretender Perkin Warbeck who claimed to be Richard the Duke of York (Elizabeth of York's younger brother)Battles
1497 24/06/1497Cabot landed in what is today Newfoundland, Canada and claimed it for his patron King Henry VII calling it "Prima Vista"Exploration
1497 10/08/1497Arthur, Prince of Wales is betrothed to Katherine of AragonRoyalty
1498Vasco de Gama reaches IndiaExploration
1498Venetian printer Ottaviano dei Petrucci invents a way of printing music using movable typePrinting Music
1499Erasmus made his first visit to England.People
1499 21/02/1499Prince Edmund is born to King Henry VIIRoyalty
1499 19/05/1499Catherine and Arthur married by ProxyRoyalty
1501 14/11/1501Catherine of Aragon and Arthur, Prince of Wales marryRoyalty
1501Anne Boleyn is bornRoyalty
1501Erasmus writes 'In Praise of Folly', a satire on human naturePhilosophy literature
1502 02/04/1502Death of Prince Arthur and Prince Henry becomes heir apparentRoyalty
1502Treaty of Perpetual Peace a treaty signed between King Henry and King James IV of Scotland as part of the marriage negotiations of Margaret Tudor.
1502Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, marries James IV of ScotlandRoyalty
1502A papal dispensation was obtained to enable Prince Henry to marry the wife (Catherine of Aragon) of his brother Arthur who had died earlier this year.Politics
1503 10/02/1503Queen Elizabeth delivered a daughter named Catherine who died shortly after birth. Elizabeth died a few days later on 10th FebRoyalty
1503 25/06/1503Catherine betrothed to Prince HenryRoyalty
1503Raw sugar is refinedScience
1509 21/04/1509King Henry VII diedRoyalty
1509 11/06/1509Marriage between King Henry and Catherine of AragonRoyalty
1509 24/06/1509Accession of King Henry VIII. Henry and Catherine are crowned at the same time.Royalty
1509 29/06/1509Margaret Beaufort, grandmother of King Henry VIII dies. She has been hugely influential in the life of the Tudor dynasty.Royalty
1510 31/01/1510Catherine of Aragon is suspected of having either a phantom pregnancy or has given birth to a stillborn childRoyalty
1511 01/01/1511Catherine gives birth to a son, called Henry. The child dies 52 days later.Royalty
1512 11/04/1512Margaret Tudor gives birth to a son, James Royalty
1513 16/08/1513King Henry goes to France with 35,000 troops to fight the Battle of Spurs at Therouanne. He surrenders within 6 days.
1513 09/09/1513The Battle of Flodden Field. Fought between King James IV of Scotland and the English army headed by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. Catherine of Aragon is in charge whilst Henry is in France. King James IV is killed. It is the largest battle fought between the two nations.Battles
1513 21/09/1513Prince James becomes King James V of Scotland. Margaret Tudor rules as regent as her son is only a year old.Royalty
1514 09/10/1514Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII marries King Louis XII of FranceRoyalty
1515 01/01/1515King Louis XII of France diesRoyalty
1515 04/12/1515Cardinal Wolsey is made ChancellorPolitics
1515 13/05/1515Mary Tudor, now a widow, marries Charles Brandon (their grand daughter is Jane Grey)Royalty
1516Princess Mary born at GreenwichRoyalty
1517In Germany, Martin Luther begins a protest against some behaviour of the Catholic Church.Religion
1518King Henry begins his affair with Elizabeth BlountRoyalty
1519 01/06/1519Henry Fitzroy, King Henry's illegitimate son by Elizabeth Blount is born and given the title Duke of RichmondRoyalty
1520 01/02/1520Mary Boleyn marries William CareyPolitics
1520Field of Cloth of Gold . King Francois I of France meets King Henry VIII but fails to gain his support against Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VPolitics
1521King Henry stands in opposition to Martin Luther and wins the title "Defender of the Faith" from
Pope Leo X.
Religion Politics
1521Diet of WormsPolitics
1522Treaty of Windsor. A treaty between England and the Holy Roman EmpirePolitics
1525The introduction of Tynsdale's New TestamentReligion
1525King Henry begins an affair with Mary BoleynRoyalty
1525Katherine Howard is bornRoyalty
1526 04/03/1526Mary Boleyn gives birth to a son Henry, whom it is supposed is King Henry's son. In the meantime Henry falls madly in love with Anne Boleyn, sister of Mary and lady in waiting to Catherine.Royalty
1527 17/05/1527Ecclesiastical court established at Westminster to hear King Henry VIII's arguments, requesting an annulment of his marriage to Queen Catherine of AragonReligion
1527 01/09/1527King Henry asks the Pope directly for an annulment to his marriage to Catherine on the case that he doubts the validity of their marriage, she is his brothers wifePolitics
1527 29/09/1527Cardinal Campeggio sent by Pope to hear Henry VIII's caseReligion Politics
1529 31/05/1529Legatine court opens at Black FriarsPolitics
21/06/1529Henry and Catherine sit before the Legatine court. Catherine insists she was a virgin when she married Henry and hence the marriage is valid, he argues against the validity of their marriage.Politics
1529Lord Chancellor Thomas Wolsey is stripped of all his titles for failing to obtain the Pope's consent to his divorce from Catherine of AragonPolitics
26/10/1529Thomas More is made ChancellorPolitics
01/06/1530King Henry asks all lords and prelates lords to sign a letter to Pope Clement asking that he grant the king's request for an annulment of his marriage. Sir Tomas More refuses to sign the document.Politics
1530Cardinal Wolse takes matters into his own hands and opens discussions with the Pope and Catherine. He also seeks to have Anne Boleyn sent into exile. Henry hears of this and orders him to London to face trial and executionPolitics
29/11/1530Cardinal Wolsey is taken ill on his journey to London and dies at LeicesterPolitics
1531Parliament is divided as Henry in his fury demands that he be recognized as the "sole protector and supreme head of the English Church and clergy.John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester, strongly disagrees with this and expresses it openly.Politics
11/02/1531Henry is finally made the Supreme Head of the Church of EnglandReligion
01/05/1531Catherine is further urged to drop her opposition to an annulment she refusesPolitics
01/07/1531Henry and Catherine separate and she is sent away from court in deep humiliationPolitics
1532Thomas Cromwell a lawyer, becomes closer to King Henry and becomes a trusted advisor. Cromwell shares Anne Boleyns Protestant beliefsPolitics
01/03/1532Thomas Cromwell moves to limit the authority of the Church to punish heretics.Religion Politics
01/05/1532Cromwell prepares a bill to transfer powers of the Church to Parliament. Cromwell also asks that the bishops be denied their longstanding authority to arrest heretics, they agree but Sir Thomas More refuses.Religion Politics
16/05/1532Sir Thomas More resigns as ChancellorPolitics
1532Anne Boleyn becomes pregnantRoyalty
1533 25/01/1533King Henry and Anne Boleyn get married and Henry as a result is excommunicated by Pope Clement VIIRoyalty Religion
1533 30/03/1533Thomas Cranmer is made Archbishop of CanterburyReligion
1533 23/05/1533Cranmer declares Henry and Catherines marriage invalid and validates Henry and Annes marriage.Religion
1533 01/06/1533Anne is crowned Queen of EnglandRoyalty
1533 25/06/1533Mary Tudor, younger sister of Henry VIII, diesRoyalty
1533 01/07/1533George Boleyn, brother of Anne is accused of attempting to murder Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII illegitimate sonRoyalty Politics
07/09/1533Queen Anne gives birth to Princess ElizabethRoyalty
1534 23/03/1534Act of Succession. Only children of King's marriage to Anne Boleyn are his lawful heirsPolitics
1534Henry defies Rome and the result is the Act of Supremacy, which made the king the head of the Church of England.Religion
1534 01/12/1534Henry meets with Cranmer and Cromwell to discuss ending his marriage with AnneReligion Politics
1535Henry faces down his opponents. Sir Thomas Moore and Bishop Fisher of Rochester are executed for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as head of the English ChurchReligion Politics
1535 01/11/1535King Henry starts to court Jane SeymourRoyalty
1535A bible is published in English. (Before this, all bibles were written in Latin.) Now people can read the bible for themselvesReligion
1536 07/01/1536Catherine of Aragon died in Kimbolton CastleRoyalty
1536Katherine Howard and music teacher Henry Manox begin an affair
1536 30/04/1536Mark Smeaton arrested on suspicion of adultery with Queen AnnePolitics Royalty
1536 02/05/1536George Boleyn arrested for incest/adultery with the Queen, his sisterPolitics Royalty
1536 02/05/1536Anne Boleyn arrested and taken to the TowerPolitics Royalty
1536 15/05/1536Anne Boleyn tried for treason, adultery and incest in the Great Hall of the Tower of LondonPolitics Royalty
1536 19/05/1536Anne Boleyn executed on Tower Hill. Anne's body and head were buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad VinculaPolitics Royalty
1536 20/05/1536Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were formally betrothedRoyalty
1536 30/05/1536King Henry and Jane Seymour were marriedRoyalty
1536 22/06/1536Mary Tudor writes to her father accepting her illegitimate status, the annulment of her parents marriage, and her father's position as Supreme Head of the English ChurchRoyalty Politics Religion
1536 22/07/1536Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of King Henry dies at the age of 17Royalty
1536King Henry begins the process of the dissolution of the monasteries, this continues through to 1539Royalty Politics Religion
1536 01/10/1536William Tyndale, whose English Bible so outraged the King, is executedPolitics
1536 13/10/1536Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, 40,000 marched in protest at Reformation led by Robert AskePolitics
1537 01/01/1537Rebellion continued to spread but martial law was imposed upon the rebellious regions, ending the rebellion.Politics
1537 12/10/1537Prince Edward is born and then christened at Hampton Court Palace on the 15thRoyalty
1537 24/10/1537Jane Seymour died as a result of childbirth giving birth to Prince Edward.Royalty
1538The Great Bible is published under King Henry's authorityPrinting
1539 04/10/1539Marriage treaty between King Henry and Anne of Cleeves is signedRoyalty Politics
1540The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was formed.Religion
1540 06/01/1540King Henry VIII and Anne of Cleeves marryRoyalty
1540 17/04/1540Thomas Cromwell is made Earl of EssexPolitics
1540 10/06/1540Thomas Cromwell is charged with High TreasonPolitics
1540 09/07/1540Marriage between the King and Anne of Cleeves is annulledRoyalty Politics
1540 28/07/1540King Henry VIII who is 49 years old married Katherine Howard who is only 15 years oldRoyalty
1540 01/09/1540The Jesuits are foundedReligion
1541 01/08/1541Katherine Howard appoints Francis Dereham as her Private Secretary. They had previously been lovers and this move will ultimately bring their downfall.Politics
1541 01/11/1541King Henry VIII is informed of Katherine's adultery with his trusted servant Thomas Culpepper and with Francis Dereham. Katherine is arrested and stripped of her title Queen. In Dec Culpepper and Dereham are executed.Politics
1542Irish Parliament declares Henry VIII and his descendants (the kings of England) King of IrelandPolitics
1542 21/01/1542Law Parliament passes the bill of attainder which declares the intent to commit treason punishable by death.Politics Law Treason
1542 13/02/1542Katherine Howard executed for TreasonRoyalty Politics
1542The Roman Inquisition is establishedReligion
1542 08/12/1542Mary Queen of Scotts is born, daughter of James V of ScotlandRoyalty
1543Act of Advancement of ReligionReligion Law
1543 01/07/1543The Treaty of Greenwich between England & ScotlandPolitics
1543 12/07/1543King Henry VIII and Catherine Parr marryRoyalty
1543 14/07/1543The Third Succession Act passed by Parliament, restored Mary and Elizabeth to the succession after Edward and his potential offspringPolitics
1544 01/05/1544Thomas Wriothesley becomes Lord ChancellorPolitics
1544 01/09/1544King Henry VIII leaves to fight in France at the Battle of BoulogneBattles
1545 19/07/1545The ship the Mary Rose is sunk just off Portsmouth Hampshire whilst King Henry VIII watchesBattles
1546 24/04/1546King Henry VIII charters the Royal NavyMilitary
1546Death of LutherReligion
1546After the death of Luther John Calvin became the leading Protestant thinker.Religion
1549 28/01/1549King Henry VIII diedRoyalty
1554The marriage of Queen Mary and Philip of Spain took place in Winchester Cathedral. They were married by Bishop Gardiner with full Catholic ritual. Royalty
1554Arrival in Britain of Cardinal Pole who was sent with the mission of reconciling England with the Pope. At a solemn session of Parliament, he absolved the English nation and re-admitted it to the union of the Catholic Church.Religion
1555 - 1558The burning of the Protestant Martyrs known as the Marian Persecution.Religion
1555Phillip of Spain warned Queen Mary she was proceeding too quickly in her campaign to bring England back to the Catholic Church but nothing would halt her and Phillip returned to Spain.Royalty
1556Thomas Cranmer, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury was burnt at Oxford.Religion
1558The war between France and Spain into which England was dragged on account of Phillip now being King of Spain, resulted in the loss of Calais.Military
1558The death of Queen MaryRoyalty
1558Elizabeth is crowned Queen Elizabeth IRoyalty
1559The Act of Supremacy was passed which declared the Sovereign to be supreme of all persons and causes within the realm.Politics Royalty
1559The Act of Uniformity which compelled the clergy to use the second prayer book of Edward VI with modifications in favour of the older practises.Religion
1559Mary Stuart was now Queen of France and her husband Francis II sent an army to the fortress of Leith. Queen Elizabeth I sent a force north and laid siege to the fortress, the French had to give way under threat of famine. Military
1560Treaty of Edinburgh. This treaty was of great importance as it ensured a Protestant Scotland.Politics Religion
1561Mary Stuart returned to Scotland after the death of her husband.Royalty Politics
1562John Hawkins made his first successful slave voyage.Trade
1564Birth of William ShakespeareLiterature
1564Birth of Christopher MarloweLiterature
1565Mary Stuart married Lord DarnleyRoyalty
1567The murder of Lord Darnley. The Earl of Bothwell was the probable murderer. Mary then married Bothwell and was implicated in the murder of her husband. The Scottish lords rose against the pair and she was forced to sign her abdication. Her infant son was crowned King James VI of Scotland.Royalty
1569The Northern Rising. An attempt to put Mary on the throne of England. It failed but Elizabeth had her revenge and ordered gallows to be erected on every village green and between 600 - 700 people were hanged.Royalty Politics
1570Pope Pius V excommunicates Queen Elizabeth.Religion
1571The Ridolfi Plot. A plan to assassinate Queen Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne. Her chief supporter in England was the Duke of Norfolk. It failed.Politics
1572Execution of the Duke of Norfolk.Politics
1572Treaty of Blois. An alliance with France by which England would join France in assisting the Netherlands against Spain.Politics
1572The Massacre of St Bartholemew when thousands of Huguenots were murdered on the streets of Paris on the order of Catherine de Medici.Religion
1577Francis Drake made his voyage around the world. He plundered Spanish ports off the coast of Chile and on his return in the Golden Hind Queen Elizabeth met him at Deptford where she knighted him in front of the Spanish Ambassador.Exploration
1584Assassination of William of OrangePolitics
1585Virginia founded. Sir Richard Grenville and 100 pioneers made a settlement on Roanoke Island but it was not a success.Exploration
1586The Babington Plot. Supporters of Mary hatch a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth and put Mary on the throne.
1586After the failure of the Babington Plot Mary was tried before a special court at Fotheringhay Castle and found guilty of treason.
1587Execution of Mary at Fotheringhay Castle.
1588The Spanish ArmadaMilitary
1592Founding of the Levant ComapanyBusiness Trade
1601Queen Elizabeth attended her last parliament.Politics Royalty
1601Poor law codeLaw
1603Death of Queen Elizabeth.