King Henry VIII dancing with his courtiersHenry Tudor was descended from the independent princes of Wales and was the Lancastrian claimant to the throne of England occupied by Richard III, a member of the rival Yorkist family. He defeated Richard's forces at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. After the battle, Henry was crowned King Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England. During the Tudor period, which lasted until 1603, England became a Protestant country, defeated a Spanish invasion and laid the foundations for becoming one of the dominant nations in the world.
Soon after he became king, Henry married Elizabeth of York, daughter of a previous Yorkist king, Edward IV. The marriage ended the rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York. To symbolize the union, he took as his badge the Tudor rose, which incorporated both the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster in one flower. Henry was a very skilful king, reducing the power of the troublesome nobility and increasing the wealth of the king by pursuing peaceful policies. He died in 1509.
From 1485 to 1578 England was struck by several epidemics of “sweating sickness”, which often killed its victims within hours. In some affected towns, half the population died.
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