BBC History Magazine

The rise of the Tudors

It’s one of English history’s great turning points. When Henry VII defeated Richard III at the battle of Bosworth, he not only wrested the crown from a ruling king but – in the eyes of several historians – he brought down the curtain on an entire era.

Whether Richard III’s death that day in August 1485 really did signal the end of the Middle Ages is up for debate. But one thing’s for certain – and that’s that it ushered in the age of the Tudors. With Henry VII on the throne, the stage was now set for one of the most controversial and romanticised royal dynasties of them all – presided over by such irresistible figures as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

Yet every bit as remarkable as the story of what happened when the Tudors occupied the English throne is the tale of how they came to occupy that throne in the first place.

Just three years before his victory at Bosworth, the prospect of the future Henry VII one day being king of England would, to many observers, have appeared almost inconceivable. Living in Brittany, where he’d fled with his uncle from Edward IV (who viewed him as a threat to his throne), Henry appeared set for a life in exile.

Yet had these same observers examined his family’s backstory, they may have chosen to reconsider Henry’s

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