In a turbulent, but ultimately successful, 118 years it saw:
- The end of the dynastic struggles known as the Wars of the Roses and the development of a strong central government in an age when the prosperity of a nation relied heavily on the ability of its ruler.
- England’s first tentative moves towards the New World.
- The protestant reformation in England, brought about initially by Henry VIII’s desire for a male heir; but only allowed to gain momentum through the will of the people and their desire for a genuinely English church. This was accompanied by the deaths of great men – notably Sir Thomas More, unfortunate women - Anne Boleyn, and the beginnings of truly autocratic rule in England.
- The rule of the staunchly catholic Mary I (Bloody Mary), the enforced reversion to Catholicism, her marriage to the hated Philip II of Spain, and the loss of England’s last bastion in France (Calais) in 1558.
- The reign of Elizabeth I when England became an international power, not just through the daring of its commanders but the excellence of its quill on page or music score. Whilst her reign is famous for the deeds of her mariners, for the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the imprisonment and execution of the very romantic Mary Queen of Scots (almost inevitable under the circumstances); just as notable and more lasting are the names of Shakespeare, and Thomas Tallis, Christopher Marlow, and John Dowland and others who brought the English Renaissance to its climax during and after her death in 1603.
The Tudor period saw the death of the Middle Ages and the beginnings of the modern world.