Tudor Succession Problems

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Tudor Succession Problems

The Tudor period is unique in that it is marked by succession difficulties in every generation. The Tudor dynasty was plagued by poor health, short-lives and a shortage of male claimants to the throne. For three successive monarchs the throne passed not from ruler to child, but from sibling to sibling and three consecutive monarchs died childless. Henry VIII's search for a suitable male heir to his throne had far reaching ramifications. This period is distinctive in that it would start the precedent of determining the succession by statute in consultation with Parliament. The parliamentary enactments and wills that he had created complicated the succession issue for future generations in the attempt to make the transition from monarch to monarch less problematic. While the Tudor period is generally viewed as a one of stability, the recurring succession difficulties created instability and often posed the threat of civil war and even foreign invasion. The succession problems of the Tudor monarchs were largely caused by their lack of issue, for none of Henry VIII's children had children, poor health and were complicated by plots arising from the uncertainty of the succession, foreign affairs, and the wishes of the monarchs of the periods in relation to Henry VIII's will.

The succession of Henry VII was the most difficult of all for he had to win a battle to claim the throne and prevent other factions from rising against him to secure his dynasty. Henry VII's claim to the throne was based not so much on hereditary right, as his victory at Bosworth field. There were other claimants to the throne such as Elizabeth of York, Edward of Warwick, John II of Portugal and John de la Pole who all...

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..., and in the third generation of Tudors a lack of children. Consequentially, the successors that did succeed were not always clearly the heir. This led to in extreme cases, like at the start of the reign of Mary, civil war. Henry VIII went to extreme lengths to secure the succession and ensure the continuity of his dynasty, lengths that included separation from the church in Rome and divorce. He also started a precedent of parliamentary consultation in matters concerning the succession, a principle that would become entrenched after the Revolution of 1688. On the other hand Elizabeth I went to extreme lengths to avoid discussing the succession in Parliament and designating a successor. There were good things that came out of what appeared to be problems: arguably the church of England, and the reign of Elizabeth I, one of the most glorious reigns in English history.
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