British History: Tudor Times

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13285

They brought an end to civil war and helped England grow richer, but why did they lock people up in the Tower of London and chop off so many heads? And why did Henry VIII get married six times?



learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Do you know who this lady is?

Portrait of Lady Jane Grey

  • She looks like a queen, doesn't she?
  • How does she look here?

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey

Life in Tudor times could be difficult, even for queens.

After 30 years of civil war, England entered into a more peaceful and prosperous time: the time of the Tudors.

It now had a more stable government and grew richer through trade and even exploring and settling a New World.

The Tudor period lasted from 1485 until 1603.

These were the Tudor Kings and Queens.

  • Henry VII 1485 - 1509
  • Henry VIII 1509 - 1547
  • Edward VI 1547 - 1553
  • Jane Grey 1553 - 1553
  • Mary I 1553 - 1558
  • Elizabeth I 1558 - 1603

Henry VII

Henry VII

Henry VII brought an end to the War of the Roses, which was a war over the throne between two families, the House of York and the House of Lancaster.

It was called the War of the Roses because the Yorks had a white rose as their symbol, and the Lancasters had a red rose. Henry combined the two roses to make the Tudor Rose.

Tudor Rose

Henry VIII

Henry VIII

When Henry VII died, his son, Henry VIII, became king at age 17.

Henry is one of the most famous of all English kings, probably because he had six wives and beheaded two of them!

He's also known for naming himself head of the church in England so that he could divorce his first wife. His fiery temper and excessive appetite are legendary. (He's often pictured holding a turkey leg!)

  • So was he a good king?
  • Or a good person?

Watch the video below and decide for yourself.

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Edward VI

Edward VI was the only son of Henry VIII — the one he went through all that trouble to get!

His reign was very short, ending after six years. Passing over his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, he chose his cousin, Jane Grey, to succeed him.

Queen Jane

Queen Jane is the lady pictured above, about to have her head removed. She reigned for only nine days.

  • What happened?

Watch the following video to find out.

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Mary I

Queen Mary I

Mary had a complicated life. She was pushed aside by her father, Henry VIII, when he divorced his first wife and Mary's mother, Catherine of Aragon.

Mary retained her Catholic faith and sought to return England to it. In trying to do so, she executed many people and came to be known as Bloody Mary!

Watch this next video and decide if that title is a fair one.

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Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I is considered one of the best rulers of England.

Like Mary, she also had a difficult childhood. Her father had her mother, Anne Boleyn, beheaded. After that, her father paid little attention to her, and her half-sister, Queen Mary I, was suspicious of her.

Mary had Elizabeth locked up in the Tower of London for a few months because she thought Elizabeth was part of a plot to overthrow her. Fortunately for Elizabeth, she was released.

A few years later, Mary died, and Elizabeth became queen at age 25. She then ruled for 44 years!

Queen Elizabeth was great at promoting her image to the people. She dressed in vibrant, luxurious clothes, often rode out on her horse to be seen by her people, and had many portraits painted of herself.

Some of her accomplishments are outlined in the video below. Take notes on the important facts, especially the following.

  • What happened with the Spanish Armada?
  • What did Queen Elizabeth encourage?
  • What flourished during her reign?

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Mary, Queen of Scots

As you saw in the video, Elizabeth had her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, executed in 1587.

  • How did this happen?

Mary was Queen of Scotland and next in line for the throne of England. She wanted Elizabeth to name her as her successor. Elizabeth refused to name a successor.

When some bad events occurred in Mary's life, the nobles of Scotland rose against her and imprisoned her. She escaped and fled to England and sought Elizabeth's protection.

Although they were cousins, Elizabeth did not trust her. So she confined Mary to different castles for 18 years. Then, Mary was accused of planning to assassinate Elizabeth and was beheaded.

Elizabeth later said she greatly regretted that this happened, and historians believe that her advisers may have tricked her into it.


The previous video also mentioned that the arts flourished during Elizabeth's reign. That means music, dancing, painting, sculpting, literature, etc., developed and grew much stronger during this time.

One of the greatest treasures that we have now from Tudor times is the writing of William Shakespeare.

Learn more about Shakespeare in this video.

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Okay, enough about kings, queens, and famous writers!

  • What about the regular people?

Move on to the Got It? section, where you'll do some research to learn more about how other people lived in Tudor times!

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