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The Tudors were an English royal family who ruled England, Wales, and Ireland from 1485-1603. The first Tudor monarch, Henry VII (1457-1509, reigned 1485-1509), was a grandson of Owen Tudor (1400-1461), the founder of the dynasty. Henry VII was succeeded as king by his son Henry VIII (1491-1547, reigned 1509-1547), who was succeeded in turn by Edward VI (1537-1553, reigned 1547-1553), his son by his third wife, Jane Seymour (1508-1537); Mary I (1516-1558, reigned 1553-1558)), his daughter by his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536); and Elizabeth I (1533-1603, reigned 1558-1603), his daughter by his second wife, Anne Boleyn (1507-1536). Neither Edward, Mary, nor Elizabeth had children of their own, and the Tudor dynasty ended with the death of Elizabeth, the English crown passing with the accession of James I (of England, James VI of Scotland) to the Stuart dynasty. (In 1553 on the death of Edward VI Lady Jane Grey, a cousin of Edward's, reigned for a few days. She was supported as queen by certain leading Protestants, who feared the Catholicism of the legal claimant, Mary, but was quickly deposed by Mary and executed in the following year.) (See further English monarchs.)

The founder of the Tudor dynasty, Owen Tudor (1400-1461), came from a family of Welsh squires in Penmynydd on the Isle of Anglesey. He was a page at the court of Henry V (reigned 1413-1422) and after fighting in Henry's army at the battle of Agincourt (1415), was promoted to a more senior position in the royal household. After Henry's death in 1422 Owen Tudor secretly married his widow, Catherine of Valois (1401-1437, daughter of Charles VI of France), by whom he had a number of children, the two eldest being Edmund Tudor (1431-1456, Earl of Richmond} and Jasper Tudor (1431-1496, Earl of Pembroke). Henry Tudor (1457-1609), the future Henry VII, was the son of Edmund, who died some months before his son's birth, and Lady Margaret Beaufort, a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (1340-1399), the fourth son of Edward III (1312-1377, reigned 1327-1377).

In the mid 1400s the rule of Henry V's son, Henry VI (1421-1471, reigned 1422-1461, 1470-1471), like his father and grandfather, a member of the Lancastrian Dynasty (i.e., a descendant of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster), was challenged by Edward, Earl of March and Duke of York (1442-1483), at that time the foremost representative of the Yorkist Dynasty (i.e, the descendants of Edmund Langley, Duke of York (1341-1402), the fifth son of Edward III). Edward deposed Henry VI in 1461 and reigned as Edward IV (1461-1470, 1471-1483). The dispute between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists over the right to the English throne, which began in Henry VI's reign and erupted intermittently in armed conflict - the so-called Wars of the Roses - ended only in 1485, when Henry Tudor, the foremost representative of the Lancastrians, defeated and killed the Yorkist king Richard III (1452-1485, reigned 1483-1485) at the battle of Bosworth. (See further Plantagenet.)

Henry Tudor's ancestry gave him only a slender claim to the throne - through his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he was a great-great-great- grandson of Edward III (see above). In reality his right to rule depended on his victory in battle at Bosworth. After his coronation as Henry VII, however, he sought reconciliation with the defeated Yorkists by marrying Elizabeth of York and thus uniting the two dynasties.

The word 'Tudor' may be used either as a noun - as in 'The Tudors ruled England throughout the sixteenth century' - or as an adjective - as in 'Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch'. As an adjective, 'Tudor' is sometimes used to describe the architecture typical of the period of Tudor rule, which was characterised by the construction of half-timbered houses. A modern house built in imitation of this style may be said to be mock Tudor.