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King Richard the Third and the Rise of the House of Tudor

Richard Duke of Gloucester was King Edward, the fourth's brother. When King Edward died in April 1483, his 12-year-old son, also called Edward, was proclaimed King Edward the Fifth. But King Edward the Fifth was never crowned.

Instead, Richard Duke of Gloucester was named Lord Protector for Prince Edward. Richard had the young prince moved into royal apartments at the Tower of London from which he would never emerge.

Richard then engineered for Prince Edward to be declared illegitimate and himself to be crowned King. King Richard the Third of England was crowned in July 1483.

Prince Edward's younger brother Richard – only nine years old – was also confined to the Tower of London. The last recorded sighting of the Princes in the Tower was in the summer of 1483. They are believed to have been murdered later that year.

Richard the Third reigned for only two years. Many nobles were unhappy at his seizure of the throne and proposed that Henry Tudor should have the throne.

Henry Tudor's claimed to the throne of England was somewhat tenuous. He was distantly related, by illegitimate descent, to Henry the fourth and Henry the fifth. He had fled to Brittany in 1471 when King Edward the fourth had regained the throne.

The plots against Richard started almost immediately. A rebellion in 1483 failed, but Henry attracted the support of the French King and landed in Wales with a force of about 5,000 Scottish and French troops in August 1485. His force grew to 8000 or more, and he met Richard's army of around 8000 at Bosworth Field near Leicester.

Sighting Henry separated from his main force, King Richard led a charge of his bodyguard towards him, but Henry's bodyguard held, and Richard's force was pushed back as other troops arrived to help. Richard's horse fell, but Richard bravely fought on until he was killed.

Henry declared himself king by right of conquest and was crowned King Henry the Seventh in October 1485. In January 1486, he married Elizabeth of York, creating the house of Tudor and uniting the houses of York and Lancaster, thus ending the Wars of the Roses. They had 8 children, four of whom died in infancy.

King Henry, the seventh's policy as king, was to maintain peace and promote trade. He stabilised his kingdom and made peace treaties with France and Spain. The treaty with Spain included the marriage of his eldest son Arthur to Catherine of Aragon. We shall hear more of her shortly. Henry also encouraged trade agreements, and the economy prospered.

In 1502 Henry's eldest son Arthur died, and in 1503 his wife died in childbirth. Henry was heartbroken. King Henry developed tuberculosis in 1509 and died in April of that year.

He was succeeded by his second son, Henry, who was crowned King Henry the eighth of England in June 1509.

Thank you for listening to this lesson. In our next lesson, I will cover King Henry the eight and his children.

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Written by

Ross Maynard