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Tudor baby names

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Written by Mary Fetzer   

Modern-day England is the result of the tumultuous run of the Tudor dynasty. The memorable kings and queens of the era gave us fascinating history and enchanting baby name inspiration. Will one of these royal monikers suit your soon-to-arrive heir?

The royal House of Tudor was the Welsh dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms from 1485 until 1603. The Tudor family rose to power after the Wars of the Roses, led by Henry VII.

Henry VII

To secure his throne, King Henry VII married his third cousin, Elizabeth of York, in 1486. Their union brought together the feuding houses of Lancaster and York and was symbolized by the Tudor rose (a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster).

Of the several children Henry and Elizabeth had together, only four survived infancy: Arthur (Prince of Wales), Henry (Duke of Richmond), Margaret (who married James IV of Scotland) and Mary (who married Louis XII of France).

Heir Arthur wed Catherine of Aragon, which created an alliance with Spanish leaders Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. Just four months into their marriage, Arthur died and left Henry as heir apparent.

Henry VIII

With the Pope's permission, Prince Henry married Arthur's widow, Catherine, in 1509. Catherine lost several children at (or shortly following) childbirth and was unable to bear the son Henry so coveted. Their daughter Mary was born in 1516, and the fact that she was female placed the Tudor dynasty at risk of losing power.

Henry turned to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to have his marriage annulled, but Wolsey was unable to obtain papal permission and was replaced by Thomas Cromwell. Henry, meanwhile, became enamored with Anne Boleyn, and needed a divorce from Catherine to make Anne his wife.

Henry separated England from the Catholic Church and the Pope and appointed Thomas Cranmer as Archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer annulled Henry's marriage to Catherine and freed him to marry Anne. In 1533, Anne gave Henry a daughter, Elizabeth, but was unable to give the king a male heir. She was executed for high treason, witchcraft and incest in 1536.

For this third wife, Henry chose Jane Seymour. In 1537, Jane gave her husband son and heir Edward. She died just a few days after giving birth.

Henry's fourth wife was Anne of Cleves, and their marriage formed an alliance with the Protestant German states. Doomed from the start, Henry and Anne's union was annulled. Anne died in 1557.

Henry married a fifth time. He wed Catherine Howard, a Catholic and the niece of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Catherine was not attracted to her aging husband (who was 30 years older) and had an affair with Thomas Culpeper of the King's court. She was executed in 1542.

The sixth and final wife of Henry was Catherine Parr, a Protestant. Catherine is credited with reconciling the King with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth.

Edward VI

After Henry VIII's death in 1547, his 9-year-old son Edward (whose mother was Jane Seymour) succeeded as King. The young king's uncle, Edward Seymour, quickly seized control and appointed himself Duke of Somerset.

While the Duke of Somerset ruled, Edward maintained a good relationship with his sister Elizabeth, a Protestant, but not with his sister Mary, a Catholic. Somerset was soon removed from power by John Dudley, who made himself Duke of Northumberland. Dudley stripped England of all remaining Catholicism in an effort to secure Protestant uniformity.

When the young King Edward VI became ill, he wanted to ensure that England would not be returned to Catholicism by his sister Mary. He gave the succession to his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, who was the granddaughter of Henry VIII's sister, Mary Tudor. Lady Jane was proclaimed queen in 1553, but she was deposed just nine days later.

Mary I

Mary, Henry VIII's eldest, entered her reign with the intent to marry Prince Philip of Spain, son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. A Protestant courtier named Thomas Wyatt tried to lead a rebellion against Queen Mary, but he was hunted down and killed before he could remove her from the throne.

Mary did marry Philip, but he was not in love with her. She attempted to restore England to Catholicism, but the resistance was too strong. Mary died in 1558, at age 42, and her sister Elizabeth (daughter of Anne Boleyn) became queen.

Elizabeth I

Elizabeth was just 25 when she took over the throne. She appointed Sir William Cecil as her chief minister and Lord Robert Dudley as the Master of the Horse. Queen Elizabeth established the Protestant Church of England with herself as Supreme Governor. Elizabeth died in 1603, unmarried and without heirs, ending the Tudor rule over England.

More royal baby name inspiration

Baby names from King Arthur's court
Baby names inspired by British royalty
Princess baby names

Photo credit: Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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