Henry was born at Pembroke Castle, the only child of Margaret Beaufort and her husband Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who died of plague, three months before Henry was born whilst being held captive by William Herbert in Carmarthen leaving his heavily pregnant widow just 13 years of age. It has been said that Henry’s birth was a difficult one for a girl so young, and left her physically unable to have more children. As a result Margaret was a somewhat protective even overbearing mother.
Henry had a challenging childhood, firstly under the protection of his Uncle Jasper Tudor, and then Henry and his mother were placed under the guardianship of William Herbert, who was given the title Earl of Pembroke. Henry was later exiled abroad during the Yorkist reign of first Edward IV and then his brother Richard III. Despite a tenuous claim to the throne, via both Queen Catherine of Valois, his grandmother, wife of Henry V, and his mother’s own claim through her Great Grandfather John of Gaunt’s illegitimate son, Henry Tudor was proclaimed King after the defeat of Richard III at Bosworth, in 1485.
He legitimated Richard’s niece, Elizabeth of York, and married her shortly after his victory in January 1486, to unite the two Houses. Of their seven children, four survived infancy, Mary, Queen of France; Margaret, Queen of Scotland, Henry and Arthur, Prince of Wales, who died aged 16 of Sweating sickness at Ludlow castle shortly after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon; Henry was said to be grief-stricken by the loss of his son and heir, but devotion to his wife took priority. Elizabeth for her part reminded Henry that they were still young enough to have more children. Sadly it was this need to fill the gap left by their son, which led to the Queen’s own death, just a year later due to complications in childbirth. The baby, Katherine died after just 8 days. The Queen followed her daughter a day later.
Henry Tudor was still grieving over his son, so the loss of his beloved wife and the new child sent him into a deep depression which some sources claim he never recovered from. He died just six years later, on 21st April 1509, leaving his spoiled, vain 18 year old second son Henry as a somewhat unprepared King of England.