Henry VII (1485). Henry VII was the King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizure of the crown on 22 August 1485 to his death. He was the first monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry attained the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He cemented his claim by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Richard's brother Edward IV. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war. Henry is credited with a number of administrative, economic and diplomatic initiatives. His supportive policy toward England's wool industry and his standoff with the Low Countries had long-lasting benefit to the whole English economy. He paid very close attention to detail, and instead of spending lavishly he concentrated on raising new revenues. New taxes stabilised the government's finances, although a commission after his death found widespread abuses in the tax collection process. After a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII. Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle on 28 January 1457 to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. His father, Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond, died three months before his birth. Henry's paternal grandfather, Owen Tudor, originally from the Tudors of Penmynydd, Isle of Anglesey in Wales, had been a page in the court of Henry V. He rose to become one of the Squires to the Body to the King after military service at the Battle of Agincourt. Owen is said to have secretly married the widow of Henry V, Catherine of Valois. One of their sons was Edmund Tudor, father of Henry VII. Edmund was created Earl of Richmond in 1452, and formally declared legitimate by Parliament. Henry's main claim to the English throne derived from his mother through the House of Beaufort. Henry's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, was a great-granddaughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of Edward III, and his third wife Katherine Swynford. Katherine was Gaunt's mistress for about 25 years. When they married in 1396 they already had four children, including Henry's great-grandfather John Beaufort. Thus, Henry's claim was somewhat tenuous; it was from a woman, and by illegitimate descent. In theory, the Portuguese and Castilian royal families had a better claim as descendants of Catherine of Lancaster, the daughter of John of Gaunt and his second wife Constance of Castile. Gaunt's nephew Richard II legitimised Gaunt's children by Katherine Swynford by Letters Patent in 1397. In 1407, Henry IV, Gaunt's son by his first wife, issued new Letters Patent confirming the legitimacy of his half-siblings, but also declaring them ineligible for the throne. Henry IV's action was of doubtful legality, as the Beauforts were previously legitimised by an Act of Parliament, but it further weakened Henry's claim. Nonetheless, by 1483 Henry was the senior male Lancastrian claimant remaining after the deaths in battle, by murder or execution of Henry VI, his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, and the other Beaufort line of descent through Lady Margaret's uncle, the 2nd Duke of Somerset. Henry also made some political capital out of his Welsh ancestry in attracting military support and safeguarding his army's passage through Wales on its way to the Battle of Bosworth. He came from an old, established Anglesey family that claimed descent from Cadwaladr, in legend, the last ancient British king, and on occasion Henry displayed the red dragon of Cadwaladr. He took it, as well as the standard of St George, on his procession through London after the victory at Bosworth. A contemporary writer and Henry's biographer, Bernard Andre, also made much of Henry's Welsh descent. In reality, his hereditary connections to Welsh aristocracy were not strong. He was descended by the paternal line, through several generations, from Ednyfed Fychan, the seneschal of Gwynedd and through this seneschal's wife from Rhys ap Tewdwr, the King of Deheubarth in South Wales. His more immediate ancestor, Tudur ap Goronwy, had aristocratic land rights, but his sons, who were first cousins to Owain Glynd┼Ár, sided with Owain in his revolt. One son was executed and the family land was forfeited. Another son, Henry's great-grandfather, became a butler to the Bishop of Bangor. Owen Tudor, the son of the butler, like the children of other rebels, was provided for by Henry V, a circumstance that precipitated his access to Queen Catherine of Valois.
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