Tudor dynasty was arguably one of the most eventful and consequential in the history of England. It spanned from the final decades of the 15th century to the first couple years of the 17th century. During this time period, the dynasty produced substantial effects on the three primary areas of English life: religion, economics, and politics -- all of which influenced the culture of the country and the zeitgeist of the time. Some of these ramifications were unequivocally caused by the various monarchs of this dynasty and their particular passions and preferences. One may argue, however, that some of these effects were simply a result of the age during which the dynasty existed, and reflected general trends throughout Western Civilization and other parts of the world as well. Regardless, there is no disputing the impact that Tudor society had on England, some of the repercussions of which are still felt through the country to this very day.
The Protestant Reformation took place in the early part of the 16th century. Although at the time it was largely centered upon Martin Luther, his 95 theses, and rampant corruption occurring in the papacy centered in Italy, its effects definitely reverberated around the Western Hemisphere during the time the Tudors were in power. England had been, prior to this monarchy, largely and devoutly Catholic like much of Europe. However, there were a number of individuals during the Tudor Dynasty who took specific actions to sever England's formal ties with the Catholic Church, and to establish Protestantism as the official religion of the land -- which it still is to this day. The individual who is widely attributed with begetting this trend in England is Henry VIII, who initially wanted to create a schism between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church so that he could annul the marriage to one of his first wives, Catherine. Therefore, under the auspices of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, Henry was able to divorce his wife because he sundered the Church of England from the Catholic Church (Sage. This distinction between the two churches would only increase with time as Henry took more and more Protestant wives (after annulments, of course), and his lineage were eventually raised as Protestants. Thus, the Tudor monarchy was the first to establish the Supreme Governor of the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and bring the Protestant reformation to English shores as a reality.
It is virtually impossible to distinguish the religious ramifications of this particular schism from the political ones as well. Consequently, the transition from Catholicism to Protestantism in England also severely affected its politics. Prior to the Tudor monarchies, the Pope himself and numerous Catholic adherents around England who may have been considered gentry but certainly had little royal claim to power their) were able to assert a formidable amount of influence. After Henry VIII established Protestantism as supplanting Catholicism, however, these individuals no longer held as much political sway. In fact, it is difficult to adjudge whether or not Henry VIII's influence was greater in the sphere of religion or politics. One of the ways in which he was able to considerably reform the political situation in England was through measures that revamped the royal court of England. Quite simply, "the creation of the royal court as a political instrument could be dated to a very definite historical period - the reign of Henry VIII" (Walker 15).
The influence of the variety of the royal court that Henry VIII established extended beyond mere politics to encompass aspects of cultural life as well. During the aforementioned monarch's reign, the royal court grew to become a national center for political and law enforcement purposes. Prior to Henry VIII's reign the national power in England was decidedly decentralized, with individuals in disparate areas of the country able to exert influence on national affairs. This phenomenon largely changed during Henry VIII's tenure. Now, individuals could only access substantial measures of political power by involving themselves in the court. So instead of a distant, fragmented source of political power rampant throughout the country, it now became more consolidated in a single place. Thus, there was a greater emphasis placed on nearness -- both physically and ideology -- to the reigning monarch. As such, there was a transfer of power from distant hamlets and areas of England to those who were closet to the king at his royal court. Although, it is noteworthy to mention that such a consolidation did not necessarily result in a homogeneity of ideas and of political opinions -- especially related to the notion of religion and the Protestant/Catholic schism -- ; there was still a great deal of factionalism (Walker16).
Lastly it is necessary to examine the legacy of the pecuniary transformation that the Tudor monarchy wrought upon England. The monarchy was engendered, of course, on the cunning prowess of Henry VII who was able to end the War of the Roses to establish the Tudor monarchy. Henry is widely attributed for this accomplishment, for procuring an heir and propagating his dynasty, as well as making a number of advancements in pecuniary affairs. His country was largely devastated following the fairly lengthy War of the Roses. Thus, the monarch chose to make it a priority to reduce expenses in the wake of its conclusion, and to thriftily govern. The result is that England was able to amass a wealth in its treasury that was necessary for the logistical continuance of the Tudor dynasty. Additionally, Henry VII's financial prowess established a precedence of the prioritization of finances for his lineage, which certainly aided the country as a whole.
More importantly, it was during the era of the Tudor dynasty that colonization and global imperialism really began in earnest. The impetus for this occurrence, of course, was simply an attempt to bolster the economics of the countries involved. England was not the only westernized country to participate in this trend, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands also were ambitious to find new trade routes to and territory to solidify their pecuniary prowess. But England did so during the Tudor reign, with Queen Elizabeth in particular supporting colonization (McGeary 163) and even piracy of the Spanish armada.
In conclusion, the Tudor dynasty wrought a number of changes to England society that largely reflected the trends at the time of its existence. Those include expanding its religion beyond mere Catholicism to incorporate the many varieties of Protestantism, expanding the power of the royal court to substantiate the criminal and political processes in the country, as well as focusing on procuring capital, largely via colonialism and piracy during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
Quite simply, the Black Death produced a devastating effect upon English society, much as it did on the society wherever it appeared be that in the Mediterranean, throughout the Continent, in Egypt, and anywhere else. The Black Death is the common term used to refer to the Bubonic Plague, an obscure strain of bacteria largely traced to rats, which proves deathly (and highly contagious) to humans. It decimated the aforementioned areas in the 14th century (from 1347 to 1351) (Spadafora), and produced a substantial effect on various governments and their economic, political, and social interactions at the time. Specifically, the Black Death produced a severe labor shortage, which made the government focus on this particular problem as it related to others in the aforementioned areas. The Black Death significantly transformed the social relations in English society, and precipitated the end of feudalism and exploitation of the working class -- long before Marx and his works of literature were ever known.
The amount of havoc that this particular plague wreaked upon Europe in general, and on England in particular, should not be underestimated. The following quotation makes this point abundantly clear. "Since its arrival in England in 1348, the Black Death had wiped out between 40 and 50% of the population" (Jones). This fact alone alludes to the degree of decimation that the working class of England endured during this travesty. At the time of the Black Death, England's social, economic, and even governmental structure was largely based on feudalism, in which a small percentage of the population owns the land that the peasants earn a pittance on which to work. Because of such a system, the wealth in England was largely concentrated in a small minority (not the least of which included the government). Therefore, when one considers that half of the population was wiped out, that statistic is substantially more detrimental for the working class than for the landowners, for the simple fact that there were so many more of the former than the latter. As such, the immediate effect that the Black death produced from a governmental perspective was an extreme shortage of laborers on which the very economic system -- and by extension the social and political system as well -- was structured.
As such, a profound transition occurred during the period of…