The Tudor period of history began in the year 1485 when King Henry VII became king. Learn about Henry VlI, his son Henry VIII and other kings and queens from the Tudor period as you complete these activities and prepare for the Life in the UK test.

The Wars of the Roses

In 1455, a civil war was begun to decide who should be king of England. It was fought between the supporters of two families: the House of Lancaster and the House of York. This war was called the Wars of the Roses, because the symbol of Lancaster was a red rose and the symbol of York was a white rose. The war ended with the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. King Richard lll of the House of York was killed in the battle and Henry Tudor, the leader of the House of Lancaster, became King Henry Vll. Henry then married King Richard’s niece, Elizabeth of York, and united the two families. Henry was the first king of the House of Tudor. The symbol of the House of Tudor was a red rose with a white rose inside it as a sign that the Houses of York and Lancaster were now allies.

Religious conflicts 

After his victory in the Wars of the Roses, Henry Vll wanted to make sure that England remained peaceful and that his position as king was secure. He deliberately strengthened the central administration of England and reduced the power of the nobles. He was thrifty and built up the monarchy’s financial reserves. When he died, his son Henry Vlll continued the policy of centralising power.

Henry Vlll was most famous for breaking away from the Church of Rome and marrying six times.

To divorce his first wife, Henry needed the approval of the Pope. When the Pope refused, Henry established the Church of England. In this new Church, the king, not the Pope, would have the power to appoint bishops and order how people should worship.

At the same time the Reformation was happening across Europe. This was a movement against the authority of the Pope and the ideas and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestants formed their own churches. They read the Bible in their own languages instead of in Latin; they did not pray to saints or at shrines; and they believed that a person’s own relationship with God was more important than submitting to the authority of the Church. Protestant ideas gradually gained strength in England, Wales and Scotland during the 16th century.

In Ireland, however, attempts by the English to impose Protestantism (alongside efforts to introduce the English system of laws about the inheritance of land) led to rebellion from the Irish chieftains, and much brutal fighting followed.

During the reign of Henry Vlll, Wales became formally united with England by the Act for the Government of Wales. The Welsh sent representatives to the House of Commons and the Welsh legal system was reformed.

Henry Vlll was succeeded by his son Edward Vl, who was strongly Protestant. During his reign, the Book of Common Prayer was written to be used in the Church of England. A version of this book is still used in some churches today. Edward died at the age of 15 after ruling for just over six years, and his half-sister Mary became queen. Mary was a devout Catholic and persecuted Protestants (for this reason, she became known as ‘Bloody Mary’). Mary also died after a short reign and the next monarch was her half-sister, Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry Vlll and Anne Boleyn.

This text is taken from Life in the United Kingdom, a Guide for New Residents, 3rd edition, Page 25 © Crown Copyright 2013


Task 1 - comprehension

Task 2 - reordering

Task 3 - Tudor kings and queens

Life in the UK test - make sure you understand

Before you take the Life in the UK test, make sure you understand:

  • The Wars of the Roses and the founding of the House of Tudor
  • How and why religion changed during this period



Think of a country you know well.

  • What happened during the 1400s and 1500s?
  • Who were the leaders during these years?

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