What is the impact of the Tudor period in the history of England?

By Sunil Kumar

Effects of the Tudor period on the history of England are quite profound. Indirectly; they were also quite substantially important for the country’s richest colony-to-be, India. England was a provincial backwater at the edge of Europe in the time; and India with 25% of the world GDP; the second richest country along with Ming China.

Let us start with a few positive things first. Although British history is quite bloody and sleazier than say the contemporary Mughals who were pretty blood-thirsty and flamboyant themselves; Shakespeare; the famous bard was alive during the period; becoming famous in the so-called “Elizabethan” era of the Tudor period.

As mentioned in the other answer; religion played a major part in the English mindscape of the time. However it was quite savage and brutal. If you’ve watched a few serials about the period like “The Tudors”; you will realize that beheadings apart from people getting hung and quartered were quite common. Henry VIII; a Tudor king broke away from Rome’s Catholic stranglehold; formed and became head of the Anglican church(Church of England); part of a wider European trend referred to as the “Protestant Reformation”. Unlike India; where a few “educated” politicians kowtow and grovel in sycophantic fashion to the descendant of an Italian fascist.

Spain was the most powerful country in Europe at that time; and suddenly become quite rich with the looting and colonization of the Americas. The English were incensed and jealous with the success of competing Catholic powers including Spain and France; since they had managed to break away from the Pope and Rome. With the Portuguese finding a route to the East nearly a century earlier(Vasco Da Gama in 1498) and even the recently independent Dutch beginning to make a fortune in the East; Elizabeth decided it was time for England to take a share of the expanding pie for itself.

London merchants had made many requests earlier; and with a “royal charter”; the East India Company came into existence in 1600. With Captain William Hawkins receiving permission from the Mughal emperor Jehangir in 1609; he started the first English factory in Surat. A long saga of British engagement with India culminating in brutal colonization began with a Tudor forming a company.

As for England itself; another fascinating “soap-opera” struggle began when Mary; the Catholic Queen of Scots who lived most of her life in France challenged Elizabeth for the English throne. As Elizabeth died childless and never married(she was called the “Virgin Queen”); centuries of English and Scottish rivalry temporarily came to a close with “The Unification of the Crowns” under James VI; son of Mary, Queen of Scots. Unity on the British isle would be critical in the centuries to come; as the United Kingdom managed to outwit its continental rivals including Spain, France and in the late 19th and 20th centuries; Germany.

Also English Protestant settlers started settling in Ireland in the Tudor period; creating a religious divide amongst the Irish apart from colonization which lasted till the 1920s. This is the core reason why Northern Ireland is still a part of the U.K. The Tudor period also saw impressive palaces built in England and a mini-renaissance with some world-famous writers.

The Royal Mail(English postal system) was founded and the Royal Navy gained in strength compared to already powerful navies like the Spanish Armada. English gained confidence when they defeated a superior Spanish navy in 1588; and Walter Raleigh founded the first colony in what was to become the U.S.A. Tudor dynasty was both reviled and admired in Britain in the centuries to come and is an integral part in the formation of English and British identity.

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