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Henry Tudor defeats King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. Richard is killed and Henry becomes King Henry VII.
Henry VII (1457-1509)
Henry VII marries Elizabeth of York (Richard III’s niece).
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York (top), Whitehall Mural
Elizabeth of York gives birth to a son, Prince Arthur.
Prince Arthur (1486-1502)
Elizabeth of York gives birth to a son, Prince Henry.
Henry VIII (1491-1547) as a young boy
Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer, sails to the Americas.
Christopher Columbus discovers The Americas for Spain
Prince Arthur marries the Spanish princess, Katherine of Aragon. He is 15 years old and she is 16.
Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)
Prince Arthur dies aged 15.
Henry VII dies and Prince Henry becomes King Henry VIII, aged 17.
Henry VIII (1491-1547)
King Henry VIII marries Katherine of Aragon. The couple have to get special permission from the Pope in Rome, as Katherine had been Henry’s brother’s wife.
Thomas Wolsey becomes a cardinal and Lord Chancellor, making him the most powerful man in the country after the king.
Thomas Wolsey (1473-1530)
Katherine of Aragon gives birth to a daughter, Princess Mary.
Princess Mary, later Queen (1516-1558)
Henry VIII meets Francis I, King of France, at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. This was a lavish two-week event held near Calais in France involving jousts, feasts and other entertainments.
The Field of the Cloth of Gold
Henry VIII is named ‘Defender of the Faith’ by Pope Leo X in recognition of his book criticising the reforms preached by the German priest Martin Luther.
Henry VIII falls in love with Anne Boleyn, maid of honour in the household of Katherine of Aragon.
Anne Boleyn (c.1501–1536)
Henry VIII asks Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Katherine is in her 40s and unlikely to have any more children. Henry wants to marry Anne Boleyn and have a son.
Thomas Wolsey falls from power as he has been unable to arrange an annulment of Henry VIII’s marriage. He gives up most of his positions and his property is given to the king.
Introduction to Hampton Court Palace
Thomas Wolsey is arrested for treason.
Thomas Wolsey dies on 29 November at Leicester on his way back to London.
Henry VIII marries Anne Boleyn in secret, after ordering the Archbishop of Canterbury to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon.
Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen.
Anne Boleyn gives birth to Princess Elizabeth.
Princess Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
The Act of Supremacy makes Henry VIII head of the English church. The Act separates the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope in Rome is no longer in control of religion in England.
Thomas More, Henry VIII’s former Chancellor, is executed for treason after refusing to swear to the Act of Succession (an Act of Parliament recognising Princess Elizabeth as the heir to the throne).
The Prior and six monks at the monastery of Charterhouse are executed when they refuse to take the Oath of Supremacy recognising Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. Nine other Charterhouse monks die in Newgate Prison.
Find out about the monks who refused to recognise King Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England
The Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry VIII orders religious houses to be closed and takes their money and lands.
Find out about the Dissolution of the Monasteries and why Sir Edward North made Charterhouse his home
Anne Boleyn is executed for treason at the Tower of London.
Henry VIII marries Jane Seymour, his third wife.
Queen Jane Seymour (1508/9-1537)
The first official English language Bible is delivered to England. Previously Bibles had been in Latin, a language which lots of people could not understand.
The monastery of Charterhouse is given to the king.
Jane Seymour gives birth to a son, Prince Edward, at Hampton Court Palace.
Edward VI (1537-1553)
Jane Seymour dies on 24 October due to problems after giving birth.
Building starts on Nonsuch Palace.
Henry VIII's palace of Nonsuch, 1541-1547
A courthouse is built next to Newgate Prison. The Central Criminal Court stands on the site today.
Henry VIII marries Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife. Henry finds her ugly and the marriage is not a success.
Anne of Cleeves (1515-1557) wrongly inscribed as Ann de Boleyn
Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister, is arrested for treason. One of reasons for Cromwell’s fall from power is that he arranged Henry’s failed marriage to Anne of Cleves.
Sir Thomas Cromwell (c.1485-1540)
The marriage of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves is annulled.
Henry VIII marries Katherine Howard, his fifth wife.
Katherine Howard (c.1523-1542)
Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, is executed for treason at the Tower of London.
Katherine Howard is executed for treason at the Tower of London.
Henry VIII marries Katherine Parr, his sixth wife, at Hampton Court Palace.
Katherine Parr (1512-1548)
Sir Edward North takes over Charterhouse and turns the monastery into a luxurious town house.
Find out about the medieval monastery of Charterhouse and what happened after it was closed
Henry VIII dies at the palace of Whitehall. His son Edward becomes King Edward VI at the age of nine.
Edward VI travels in a great procession from the Tower of London, along Cheapside to Westminster Abbey where he is crowned the next day.
Katherine Parr marries Sir Thomas Seymour, the love of her life.
Katherine Parr dies six days after giving birth to a daughter.
The ‘Book of Common Prayer’ is compiled by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. This sets out all the official prayers for different types of church service such as marriages, Sunday services and baptisms. The prayers are written in English for the first time and help to establish the Protestant religion in England.
History of the Reformation of the Church of England
King Edward VI dies after nominating his Protestant cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to be queen.
Lady Jane Grey is proclaimed queen but never crowned.
Lady Jane Grey (c.1536-1554)
Edward VI’s Catholic sister Mary becomes Queen Mary I. She is determined to re-establish Catholicism as the religion of England.
Queen Mary I (1516-1558)
Lady Jane Grey, who had been queen for only nine days, is arrested and held prisoner in the Tower of London.
Sir Thomas Wyatt leads a rebellion against Mary I. The rebels are angry at Mary’s plans to marry the Catholic Philip of Spain (Philip became King of Spain in 1556). The rebellion is stopped when the rebels march on London.
Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Guildford Dudley, are executed at the Tower of London. They had been convicted of treason at their trial at the Guildhall in November 1553.
Queen Mary I marries Philip of Spain. Many people are very unhappy about the marriage and are afraid that Spain will take over England as a result.
Phillip II (1527-1598), King of Spain
The former monastery of Charterhouse is sold to Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. It is re-named Howard House.
Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, is burnt at the stake for refusing to give up his Protestant religious beliefs.
Cranmer’s martyrdom, from John Foxe’s book (1563)
The town of Calais, the last bit of English territory in France, is surrendered to France.
Queen Mary I dies. Her half-sister Elizabeth becomes Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth travels in a great procession from the Tower of London, along Cheapside to Westminster Abbey where she is crowned.
Find out about Cheapside and the royal processions that took place there
The Protestant ‘Book of Common Prayer’ becomes the only legal form of worship. Catholic forms of worship are declared illegal.
A lightning strike destroys the 500ft spire of St Paul’s Cathedral. The spire is never replaced.
St Paul's map image printed from the Copperplate Map, 1559
Captain John Hawkins, a trader and naval commander, becomes the first English slave trader.
A severe outbreak of plague kills nearly a quarter of the people living in London.
Sir Thomas Gresham’s London shopping centre and merchants’ meeting place is re-named the Royal Exchange by Elizabeth I. The Royal Exchange still stands today near Bank Underground station but has been rebuilt twice.
The first playhouse is built in London. It is called the Red Lion and is built in Stepney.
Sir Francis Drake arrives at Plymouth after his three-year voyage at sea. He is the first Englishman to sail around the world.
Sir Francis Drake receives knighthood from Queen Elizabeth
War begins between England and Spain.
The Rose is the first playhouse to be built on Bankside, south of the river Thames.
Reconstruction of the Rose Theatre © Bill Dudley/The Rose Theatre Trust
Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I’s cousin, is executed for treason. She had been the focus of several plots against Elizabeth.
Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87)
King Philip of Spain launches a fleet of ships known as the Spanish Armada against England. English ships attacked the Armada in August 1588, scattering the Spanish ships. At least 30 Spanish ships were wrecked in storms while trying to sail around the British Isles to get home to Spain.
William Shakespeare, actor and playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon, is first recorded as living in London.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Rodrigo Lopez, personal doctor of Elizabeth I, is executed following a trial at the Guildhall convicting him trying to poison the Queen.
The Globe playhouse is built on Bankside.
Reconstruction of the Tudor theatres in Southwark. The Globe Theatre in the foreground. © Faith Vardy/MOLA
Another severe outbreak of plague hits London. The theatres are closed to prevent the spread of the disease.
Queen Elizabeth I dies, aged 69. As she never married or had any children, Elizabeth’s cousin, King James VI of Scotland, becomes King James I of England. James is from the Stuart family and so the Tudor period ends.