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Publication date: 1st November 2010 by A. G. R. Smith

Tudor Government

On 21 August 1485 Henry Tudor won the battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire and established himself as Henry VII, King of England. He had landed in Wales two weeks before, the Lancastrian claimant to the throne against the incumbent Yorkist, Richard III. He had received assistance from Charles VIII of France and his invasion attracted English support as he marches across the country to his encounter with Richard at Bosworth. In the battle itself Richard tried to decide the issue by killing, fighting bravely to the last. Bosworth seemed at the time a mere incident in the ‘wars of the roses', that great dynastic struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York which plagued England from the 1450s onwards, but nearly 118 years later, on 24 March 1603, Henry's granddaughter Elizabeth died quietly in her palace at Richmond, in secure possession of the Crown which Henry had won so long before. Her successor James VI of Scotland, acceded peacefully to the throne, riding south to take possession of his new kingdom amidst general rejoicing.

These descriptions of the birth and end of the Tudor regime suggest a transition from instability to stability. The regime was founded in battle and upheaval. It ended with a peaceful death and an unchallenged succession. That theme of stability will appear prmoniently in the discussion which follows, a discussion which will explore the aims, structure and nature of Tudor government and will conclude with an assessment of the extent of its success.