Tudor vs. Stuart Monarch Essay

Henry VII, the King of England (1485-1509), and Charles I, the King of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (1600-1649), both were the founders of Tudor and Stuart dynasties, yet showed drastic difference in personal and political spheres. Despise their authority and a belief in the divine right of kings, the period of Henry VII’s ruling was quite contrary to Charles I’s one. They were the royal figures that had proven that royal ancestors play tiny or no role in character development and personal and political views.

Being born at Pembroke Castle by Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of Edward III out of the House of Lancaster, Henry had never seen his father, Edmund Tudor, who died shortly before his birth. At the age of 15, he faced the first life-threat – the murder of Henry VI, Henry Tudor remained the last male heir of the House of Lancaster. Therefore, he was forced to cross the Channel and spent 15 more years, being exiled. After ineffective attempt to take the throne of England, he finally was entered Milford Haven with a 3-thousand army, consisting of mostly French soldiers, and was crowned in October 1485.

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A year later he married the eldest daughter of Edward IV, Elizabeth of York. Their marriage symbolized the end of the Wars of the Roses and joined the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York. It can hardly be called political or arranged marriage, and seemed to be of mutual love and understanding. Elizabeth granted Henry 4 survived out of 7 born children. Her death, at the age of 37, as well as the death of Henry’s supposed oldest heir, was a terrible stroke that shaped his years to come.

During his adolescence, Henry Tudor had overcome both pains and troubles, being raised by his uncle and living in foreign land during the essential period of personal formation. In exile, he formed a different view on monarchy, making him the most successful king of England.

In contrary, Charles I, who was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, just succeeded his father


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and was not raised as a heir; for James VI of Scotland and Anne of Denmark laid their hopes on the promising Prince Henry, who died in 1612. Weak health and isolated life, apart from his height (about 5 feet tall) had shaped the same weak, quiet and background character. His greatest passions were art and languages. He was a great linguist and fonder of Van Dyck’s and Rubens’ paintings. Being very religious man, Charles I attended glorious and ritual services, rather than simple, which corresponded to his artistic mindset.

By marrying Henrietta Maria of France, Charles I had worsened religious and financial situation – the promise, given in 1624, to marry a bride out of the Church of England services, was broken by the marriage with recusant. Henrietta, the daughter of Henry IV and Marie de Medici, having leader abilities, had entered England with a political intrigue to change English laws in favor of the Roman Catholic Church and brought disrespect to shaky authority of her husband. A number of times she had been returning to France seeking refuge, support and aid for her ideas and disturbing the state.

Both monarchs can be compared in two things – they both were fond of art and, whose notions were based on the ultimate authority of kings, along with the support of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, Tudor had strong character, comparing to Charles’ mild one, and their marriages had led to peace and confrontation accordingly.

For about 12 years, everything seemed more or less clear on the foreign front (except for French king Charles VIII, whom Tudor declared war, though failed to complete the mission), yet in 1496 Perkin Warbeck, who was defeated and captured next year, brought a wave of rebels and rumors, concerning taxation. Nevertheless, Henry VII increased revenues and cut royal administration, thus, by the end of his reign the income skyrocketed from £52,000 to £142,000. To root his dynasty and keep peace, he brought in royal marriages. Under his reign, England was a Catholic nation and services were carried in Latin. Personal tragedy of son’s


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and wife’s losses made him harder. It narrowed the circle of advisers, undermined political stability. At the end of his reign, one could say that Henry VII was an absolute monarch.

Elizabeth I (1558-1603), the last queen of Tudor dynasty, inherited a sound burden from the past rulers and faced a number of questions that were put off. The well-known compromise ‘via media’, undertaken by Elizabeth, separated the Church in England from Rome and papacy, yet preferred Episcopal Church organization and service, resulting in suspicions of both Protestants and Catholics. These religious questions had led to foreign policy: in 1559 reformation in Scotland forced her to end the uprising; in 1562 – she supported Protestant Party in France and Protestant rebels in Spain. 1568-88 were the years of Catholic threat, when in May 1568, Mary, Queen of Scots, arrived in England. The Parliament kept her as a prisoner, thus she became of center of opposition until she was sentenced to death in 1587. This act spurred Spanish Armada to defeat English fleet. Though it was conquered, the conflict remained open.

Though he conquered not for the throne, as Henry Tudor, Charles I had been facing controversies throughout his ruling. Three civil wars (with Scots 1637-1646 and twice in England 1642-46 and 1648) and uprising in Ireland brought division; Parliament disagreements had led to crisis in 1628-1629. These political controversies, when Charles decided to act without Parliament (both advice and taxes) resulted in ‘The Eleven Years ‘Tyranny’, as he ruled without it. Moreover, Charles’ marriage split the nation inside, for they had to accept the beliefs of ruling king (at this point existed two camps – The Church of England and Roman Catholic Church), and it is still unknown, which side he belonged to.

These three monarchs give us a clear picture that personal tragedy, low self-esteem or weak characters find reflection in reign. And we have one more proof that church should not enter the state affairs and vice versa, otherwise, inner suspicion and foreign instability are inevitable.


“Henry VII (r.1485-1509)”. History of the Monarchy.




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