Henry VII (1457-1509), King of England, Lord of Ireland (1485-1509)
Henry VII (28 January 1457 – 21 April 1509) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, and the first monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry won the throne when his forces defeated King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the culmination of the Wars of the Roses. Henry 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 Edward IV and niece of Richard III. Henry was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the civil war, and after a reign of nearly 24 years, he was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII. Henry can also be credited with a number of administrative, economic and diplomatic initiatives. He paid very close attention to detail, and instead of spending lavishly he concentrated on raising new revenues. His new taxes were unpopular and when Henry VIII succeeded him he executed his two most hated tax collectors. His supportive stance of the islands' wool industry and standoff with the Low Countries had long lasting benefits to all the British Isles economy. However, the capriciousness and lack of due process that indebted many would tarnish his legacy and were soon ended upon Henry VII's death, after a commission revealed widespread abuses. 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.
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