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Messages : 783
Date d'inscription : 12/02/2015


DIL for Friday March 30th

The Wars of the Roses, which lasted for a bit more than 30 years (30 years, 3 weeks and 4 days to be specific) translate how hard it has been for England to find a balance for its lead. Theses Wars opposed the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The wars took their name because these two houses were represented by two sort of roses – the red ones for the House of Lancaster, and the white ones for the House of York. The wars finally ended in June of the year 1485. From then, England had five different rulers - from the end of the 15th century (1485) to the beginning of the 17th (1603), the House of Tudor ruled the country with five of its members (six, if we count Jane Grey). The first was Henry VII, then came Henry VIII followed by Edward VI and later Mary I (between them, Jeanne Grey ruled for a short period of time) – while the last one was Elizabeth I, also known as the Virgin Queen. With each of them came new rules, and different ways of leading the country – creating different issues among the people, religion or monarchy while also resolving some of them. The question which has been asked to us is : under which of the Tudors would you have liked to live? Explain why. In a first part, we will see briefly the five different Tudors by focusing on the main events that occurred under their lead. Then, I will reveal the one that I would have liked to live under – and the reasons why I chose this one.

As it has been said, England was governed by five main figures of the House of Tudor – and a sixth one who didn’t last long. The three first to rule the country were male figures. The one who put an end to the Wars of Roses was Henry VII, in 1485. Since he was the first to rule, he is also the founder of the House of Tudor. During the Wars of the Roses, he stood by the side of the Lancaster – because he was the last heir of the House of Lancaster. He gathered an army in Wales, where the House of Lancaster originally stayed – and then went to war for the power. During the battle of Bosworth, he won against the leader of the House of York, Richard III, in 22nd of August 1485 – and this is how he accessed to the throne. After that, in January 1486, he married as promised Elizabeth of the House of York– a way to unify the two Roses. This is how he created the rose of the Tudor – the red of the House of Lancaster, and the white of the House of York. When he died this is his son and Elizabeth of York’s, Henry VIII, who took up the torch of ruling the kingdom of England. He came to the power in June 1509, at the age of 17, after his father’s death. He immediately announced his marriage with Catherine of Aragon – the widow of his older brother Arthur. She was a catholic and this union was supposed to strengthen both of their House’s. He also began to execute everyone who might have been an issue or threat – following the way of his father. Later, his marriage with Catherine of Aragon didn’t please him since she gave birth to no healthy and living son – only a daughter, Mary. He began an affair with Mary Boleyn – then became interested in her sister, Anne Boleyn, who didn’t want to become his mistress. This is when Henri VIII started to grew the intention of getting rid off his wedding with Catherine of Aragon. This desire led him to reject the papal authority and his excommunication while giving birth to the English Reformation which took away from the Pope the religious power, and gave it to the king himself. He finally married Anne Boleyn, in 1532 – but as she failed to give him a son (she gave birth to a girl, Elizabeth, instead) he organized her execution in 1536 after what is thought to be false accusations or adultery against her. After her, he married Jane Seymour in the same year – she gave birth to a son, Prince Edward, in 1537 but died a few days later. He then married Anne of Cleves in 1540 but dissolved their wedding because they did not consummate their union – in the same month he married Catherine Howard, but executed her in 1542. And in 1543 he married his last wife, Catherine Parr. He then died in 1547. This his his and Jeanne Seymour’s son, the only male heir he had, who came to the throne – Prince Edward, who became Edward VI, at the age of nine. Since he was young, he didn’t rule the country alone but was helped by a Regency Council, because he was still a kid at that time. The Regency Council’s choice to make a Prayer Book gave birth to rebellion from the people, in 1549 – Edward IV’s reign was also accompanied of economic problems in the country, and a war against Scotland in 1547. He died in 1453, after six years at the head of the country.
The three first Monarchs of England were men from the House of Tudor – but then, the followings were woman. Right after the death of Edward IV, Jane Grey came up to the throne as he wished for – but she never was really crowned queen, as she was imprisoned nine days later by Mary I who wanted what was “due” to her : the power. Jane Grey was then executed, and Mary I took her place thanks to the support she succeeded to find. Edward IV didn’t want her to come at the power because she was a Catholic and he feared that she might deconstruct everything that he and their father had built. Indeed, there was a religious conflict at that time, between the Catholics and the Protestan : and Mary I, during her reign, will be known as “Bloody Mary” because of her hard way to restrain the Protestant. As she didn’t succeed in having a child, she thought that it was God’s punishment for not having taken out all the “heresy” (here, Protestants) out of the country : so she started to execute Protestants (burning them in public places, for example). Her whole reign (who lasted a bit less than six years) was whole focused on religious issues and making England Catholic again. When she died, in 1558, she passed the crown to her sister Elizabeth (who became Elizabeth I), hoping that she would be able to carry on the Catholic beliefs and purge the country from the heresy. Elizabeth I never married and stood alone at the throne for her whole reign – which lead people to name her “The Virgin Queen”. As she was a woman, she did everything she could to keep the power without having to rely on a man, or anyone else. She also was the last monarch of the House of Tudor, since she gave birth to no heir. As soon as she became a queen, she showed on which side she stood by establishing a Protestant Church of which she gave herself the lead. She had a different way of leading the country, far different from her predecessors : but this is what we are going to see, since she is the one I would have liked to live under.

Elizabeth I was a strong female lead. Indeed, she never let anyone walk all over her, and knew what needed to be done. First, she ended religious issues thanks to her politic which was different from the one of Mary I, or her father Henry VIII. Indeed, instead of forcing a religion, she let people being free from choosing one and let them do as they wanted too – as long as they were respecting her reign. We could say that one of her main proverb was “video et taceo”, which could be translated as “I see but say nothing”. She tried to be as neutral as possible, as the leader of a country, so that they could move on and leave all their religious issues behind them since her sister, Mary I, left a country gnawed by disagreement. She was very cautious and careful in her way of ruling, and her motto was to stay as thoughtful as possible – she was a well-educated woman, saw what had happened to all of her predecessors and took lessons from it. She was not passive. For example, after England lost Le Havre between 1562 and 1563, she did not jump on another military expedition and waited, since they had lost and that they were weakened. This shows that she was not impulsive nor hot-headed, and knew to way for her time. More than twenty years later, in 1585, she got involved one more time in a disagreement, and provided help to the Protestant Dutch Rebels, signing with them the Treaty of Nonsuch, in which she signed to provide them 6,400 foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry to fight against Philip II. This was also caused by the fact that she didn’t want to be designed as the ruler of the Netherlands – so she supplied them help to fight for themselves, and their needs. It was also a good thing for her – she was smart enough to know how to take advantage of a situation, and this helped her to get rid off the idea of making her the Queen of Netherlands, which she didn’t want to be.
As a woman and a queen, Elizabeth I also faced controversies about her reign, and her way to deal with issues. Men tried to get involve in her life, and in her way of ruling. Indeed, when she got crowned, people immediately started to wonder when she would get married – and as it appeared that she wasn’t interested in it (for unknown reasons), the Parliament tried to take action by discussing the subject with her. This upset her, and when she organized another meeting, she read them a speech she had wrote in which she said that, them trying to convince her to get married was like “the feet directing the head”1, which shows how confident and unquestionable she was. Later in 1579, there was a rumour that she might marry the Duke of Anjou, from France – and people started to talk about it, as she was in her forties and not married yet. John Stubbs2, a pamphleteer, wrote something about it – and ended up criticizing the fact that the Queen was too old to marry, that she wouldn’t be able to give birth to a child. Elizabeth I punished him and cut off his hands, instead of hanging him like she originally wanted – that shows another face of her, forgiving yet cruel and bossy since she wouldn’t let anyone make fun of her, but would spare their life. It could also be said that she finally spared John Stubbs’ life to make an example out of him – that way, she would repulse anyone from trying to write some satire about her, or anything that could be interpreted as a mockery.

As a matter of course, I chose Elizabeth I as the Tudor I would have like to live under because it is my personal choice. Since I am involved in the issues faced by women, and that have been face in the past, I consider Elizabeth as a sort of “feminist” idol (in the meaning of representation) who didn’t let herself be defined by any man, and never let them decide for them (like we have seen for the question of marriage). She also never let them make fun of her (as seen with the trial of John Stubbs and his pamphlet). As a queen, she had a wise and tolerant way of dealing (successfully) with the issues that had faced her predecessors, and ameliorated them instead of worsening the situation. It seems that she had the most peaceful reign of the others Tudor, and the fairest : this is why I chose her.

1 & 2 sources : spartacus-educational.


- Wikipedia.
- English History.
- Historyanswers.
- Spartacus-educational.
- Elizabethi.
- Tudor History.
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