On January 18, 1486 the Royal Houses of Lancaster and York were united by the marriage of Henry VII to Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of Edward IV. Henry seized the crown on August 22, 1485 and reigned until his death on April 21, 1509, as he was the first monarch of the House of Tudor. Henry won the throne when he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last king of England to win his throne on the field of battle. He was successful in restoring the power and stability of the English monarchy after the political upheavals of the Wars of the Roses. He founded a long-lasting dynasty and, after a reign of nearly 24 years, was peacefully succeeded by his son, Henry VIII.
His claim to the throne was that he was the last reasonably legitimate male descendant of Edward III. He honored his pledge of December 1483 to marry Elizabeth of York. They were third cousins, as both were great-great-grandchildren of John of Gaunt. The marriage took place on January 18, 1486 at Westminster. The marriage unified the warring houses and gave his children a strong claim to the throne. The unification of the houses of York and Lancaster by this marriage is symbolized by the heraldic emblem of the Tudor Rose, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster. It also ended future discussion as to whether the descendants of the fourth son of Edward III, Edmund Duke of York, through marriage to Philippa, heiress of the second son, Lionel, Duke of Clarence, had a superior or inferior claim to those of the third son John of Gaunt, who had held the throne for three generations. In addition, Henry had Parliament repeal, the statute that declared Edward IV's marriage invalid and his children illegitimate, thus legitimizing his wife.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Royal Tombs. The book can be purchased from Amazon at the following links: