Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, by Nicholas Hilliard (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)
Even though they lived nearly 500 years ago, the Tudors continue to fascinate us. From the King with six wives to the first two crowned regnant Queens of England, the Tudors redefined the monarchy and what it meant to be royal. The family oversaw several changes in religion, instituted a tradition of a professional council, started the Royal Navy and the Royal Postal Service, and ushered England from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. In just three generations, the Tudors reshaped the monarchy in their image and changed England, Europe, and the world.
Tudor scholar Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger takes participants behind Tudor England’s carefully contrived image of power and magnificence for a revealing glimpse of the royals, their friends and family, and the social climbers and power-brokers who filled the Tudor court and created the Tudor world.
9:30–10:45 a.m. The Unlikely Beginning at Bosworth Field
By nearly all accounts, Henry Tudor should never have become king. But he defeated Richard III at Bosworth, ended the Wars of the Roses, and took the throne. Henry VII established a long, peaceful reign and laid the groundwork for his son, the energetic and athletic Henry VIII, who was crowned the second Tudor king.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Henry VIII: An Heir at any Cost
Henry VIII knew the only way to secure his family dynasty was to provide a male heir. He had six unfortunate marriages, changed England’s religion, and turned the nation upside down. He also evolved into an obese tyrant who terrorized his court and his country. But his son and two daughters brought the Tudors into the next century.
12:15–1:15 p.m. Break
1:15–2:30 p.m. Religion and Power in Tudor England
The death of Henry VIII propelled England into religious chaos. Edward VI’s devotion to extreme reform inspired him to name Jane Grey his heir. But the will of the people helped Mary Tudor claim the throne and become the first woman crowned regnant Queen of England. Her devotion to Catholicism and her Catholic husband left the country weaker at her death.
2:45–4 p.m. The Final Tudor and the Tudor Legacy
Elizabeth was the least likely of Henry VIII’s children to take the throne, but she would become the longest-reigning and most successful Tudor monarch. She oversaw the dawning of the English Renaissance, particularly the growth of theatre and music. She rallied her troops to victory over the Spanish Armada. And she evolved into Gloriana, symbol of England’s emergence as a world power.
Lloyd-Stanger is an independent scholar and former manager of visitor education at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
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