On 22nd August 1485, 28 year old Henry Tudor, a descendant of Edward III’s 3rd son to survive infancy, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, defeated Richard III, the last yorkist king, at the Battle of Bosworth, and became the King of England by right of conquest. At the time he was unmarried and had no siblings, so there was, in effect, no line of succession to his newly claimed crown. Prior to the Battle of Bosworth Henry Tudor had vowed that when he became king he would marry 19 year old Princess Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter and heir of Edward IV, and the person presumed to have inherited the yorkist claim to the throne after the death of her uncle, Richard III, although as Richard III was her father’s younger brother her claim had already been bypassed at his succession and it’s not entirely certain she, or her alternative future heirs would have inherited the throne had Richard III defeated and killed Henry and lived his natural lifespan. Richard III’s claim to the throne rested partly on the alleged illegitimacy of Edward IV’s children, due to Edward’s alleged precontract to another woman invalidating his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, and partly rested on the fact that at this time there had yet to be a female monarch and so many people would have believed that only a man could reign over the country, Richard being the nearest male relative. In any case Henry kept his vow, and his marriage to Elizabeth of York took place on 18th January 1486, thus uniting her reasonable, if unlikely, yorkist claim to the throne with his very dubious lancastrian claim, which he inherited through his Beaufort ancestors who were illegitimate children of John of Gaunt’s who were later legitimated, though not given any succession rights, by John’s eventual marriage to their mother.
This document records the immediate line of succession, with the assumption it was limited to Henry VII’s descendants, because the legitimate lancastrian line had died out and the yorkist line was represented mostly by woman (chiefly Henry’s own wife) and by young men who were either too young or too distantly related (or both) to persue a strong claim to the throne. Because this
document limits itself to Henry VII’s descendants it start at the birth of his first child, in 1486, and takes some time to reach a full ten in line, it then carries on detailing every ten in line to the throne, up until the 1689 deposition of James II changed the succession and monarchy forever, it then continues with a final section detailing the limited succession specified by the Bill of Rights and Claim of Rights bills in 1689 until 1701, when the Act of Settlement laid down the first detailed and perpetual law governing the succession, a law that remains to the present day with only minor modifications. All lines of succession from the 1701 Act of Settlement to the present day are presented in my first document about lines of succession through time. One other point to bear in mind is, that until Henry VIII confirmed his two daughters as his heirs, it wasn’t thought possible for a female to inherit the throne, so any female’s shown in the line of succession in Henry VII’s reign are included to show the full theoretical genealogical succession, rather than to suggest their place in the succession was absolutely secure, and also because the right to the throne could pass through a female to her son, as it did with Henry II’s inheritance through his mother in 1154, so, for completeness sake, I believe it is necessary to show them.
King Henry VII 1485-1509:
King Henry VIII 1509-1547:
King Edward VI 1547-1553:
Queen Mary I 1553-1558:
Queen Elizabeth I 1558-1603:
King James I (&VI) 1603-1625:
King Charles I 1625-1649:
King Charles II 1649-1685 (including the interregnum of 1649-1660):
King James II 1685-1689:
King William III and Queen Mary II 1689-1701:
(please also see the other document detailing the post Act of Settlement lines of succession, which includes the later part of King William III's reign)
Page Last Updated - 03/01/2014