GOVERMENT and SOCIETY IN THE LATE MIDDLE AGES
The year 1485 is usually considered the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of
the English Renaissance, the most lustrous period in the history of the English nation,
which coincided with a century of Tudor rule (1485–1603) The three most remarkable
monarchs of the House of Tudor were Henry VII, who laid the foundations of a powerful
state; Henry VIII, who established the national church and built the Royal Navy; and
Elizabeth I, who kept England on the course to becoming a heretical sea power
The Tudor period can be regarded as the beginning of modern times: an absolute
monarchy and the National Church controlled by the state were established, and
England laid the foundations for its maritime supremacy.
Henry VII (1485-1509) made use of the situation after the end of the Wars of the
Roses to establish an absolute monarchy He created a new nobility from the upper
middle class: the new noblemen were entrusted with state offices, especially in the
Privy Council, the predecessor of the modern Cabinet, and in the prerogative courts
Henry had set up. He avoided military conflicts, but protected trade and manufacturing
and encouraged overseas expeditions. (cf.Fig.7.) That is why Tudor absolutism was
supported by practically the whole nation. Under Henry VIII (1509-47), the Church was
subjected to the state power, as a result of the king’s quarrel with the Pope over
divorcing his first wife (the English Reformation, the 1530s). This act removed the
last power of the feudal period that hampered the development of parliamentary
government. Though Henry was acknowledged Head of the Church of England
he remained Catholic. Protestantism penetrated into England after his death. Mary Tudor
(1553-58) unsuccessfully tried to recatholicise the country, but the re
ligious struggles were ended under Elizabeth I (1558-1603; the Elizabethan Settlement
the English Church became the official Church of England and its doc
trine was clearly formulated. In 1588, England defeated its greatest rival, Spain: a
huge fleet called the “Armada” was crushed by the English navy and the
adverse weather. This meant the end of Spanish maritime supremacy.)
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