REIGNED: the first ruler of the house of Tudor, whose reign initiated a period of national unity following the strife of the 15th century. "The epoch of one of the most important social changes the destruction of the feudal system and the growth of a middle class."
After the Yorkist king Edward IV seized the throne from the Lancastrian Henry VI in 1471, Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, took refuge in Brittany. He became head of the house of Lancaster on the death of Henry VI in the same year.
In 1483, taking advantage of the indignation aroused against Edward's successor, Richard III, whose nephews, Edward V and Richard, duke of York (1472-83), were murdered in the Tower of London, presumably on Richard's order, Henry crossed over to Wales, where he gathered an army of supporters. In 1485, at Bosworth Field in England, he met and defeated Richard, who was killed during the battle. Henry Tudor was subsequently crowned Henry VII in London. In the following year he married the Yorkist heiress, Elizabeth (1465-1503), eldest daughter of Edward IV, uniting the houses of York and Lancaster and ending the Wars of the Roses.
After his accession Henry had to contend with several Yorkist uprisings, led by impostors with strong backing in England and abroad, their forces were defeated by Henry. In 1494 Henry sent the English statesman Sir Edward Poynings to Ireland to reestablish English control in that country. Henry managed to maintain peaceful relations with Austria, Spain, and France throughout most of his years as king. He was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII.