Henry VII

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Henry VII (1457-1509), king of England (1485-1509) was the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty As Earl of Richmond he had a very tenuous claim to the throne of England through an initially illegitimate thread of the Lancastrian line, but was able to capitalise on this because of the extreme unpopularity of Richard III following the latter's deposing of his nephew Edward V to seize the crown for himself. Henry’s promise to marry Elizabeth of York, a daughter of Edward IV, thereby uniting the two royal houses of Lancaster and York on the throne of England, brought him allies even in the Yorkist camp. Henry had lived in exile in Brittany for fourteen years following the defeat of the Lancastrian faction at the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. In 1485 he landed at Milford Haven in Wales, and mustered increasing support as he moved through his native Wales and England. His army encountered that of Richard III at Bosworth. Richard was killed and Henry assumed the throne.

As king he largely avoided foreign wars and was able to build up the depleted royal coffers to the extent of gaining a reputation as a miser. He was able to build on the new prosperity of an increasingly powerful middle class moving into the gap left by the downfall of so many of the barons during the Wars of the Roses. He successfully overcame attempts by two pretenders, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, to gain the throne in 1487 and 1497 respectively and his marriage to Elizabeth in 1486 helped dispel much of the animosity of that struggle.

His victory over Richard III signifies the end of the Middle Ages in English history and the defeat of Simnel is generally taken as the end of the Wars of the Roses.

He was succeeded in 1509 by his second son Henry, who became Henry VIII.

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