Possible Tudor-Related Dissertation / Essay Titles

So judging from some of the searches coming up on my stats page, and from personal experience, now is about the time that people begin to choose their dissertation questions, and some essay questions so I thought I’d put up a list of possibles here to help you guys out. I realise these are far from exhaustive, and some of the phrasing could do with improving, but they’re just examples.

Henry VII holding a Tudor Rose, wearing collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, 1505.
Henry VII holding a Tudor Rose, wearing collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, 1505.

Henry VII

  1. What steps did Henry VII take to consolidate his power after Bosworth?
  2. How did Henry VII manipulate Richard III’s image to suit his own purpose?
  3. How serious was the threat to Henry VII by pretenders?
  4. How far was Henry VII’s authority challenged by rebellions and conspiracies during his reign?
  5. How did Henry VII exert control ove his financial policies and why was this control so important?
  6. Henry VII negotiated marriages for his children before his death, but how successful were they politically?
  7. Compare the success of the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck?
  8. To what extent did Henry VII contribute to the death of Prince Arthur?
  9. What did Henry VII do to try to win over the English people?
  10. How crucial were the roles of councillors in Henry VII’s reign?

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540

Henry VIII

  1. What were the reasons behind the English Reformation?
  2. How far was Henry VIII justified in getting rid of 5 of his wives?
  3. To what extent was Lady Jane Rochford responsible for the deaths of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard?
  4. How far do fictional works on the wives of Henry VIII have basis in fact?
  5. To what extent was Anne Boleyn’s rise to power the work of men?
  6. How far was Anne Boleyn’s fall from power a result of her own mistakes?
  7. How far did Henry VIII rely on his advisors like Wolsey and Cromwell, and how far was this reliance the reason for their downfalls?
  8. What was the link between the divorce and the English Reformation?
  9. What do the marriages of Henry VIII tell us about the importance of royal marriages in the sixteenth century?
  10. Does Henry VIII deserve his reputation as a tyrant and why?
Edward VI as Prince of Wales 1546.
Edward VI as Prince of Wales 1546.

Edward VI

  1. How far was Edward VI manipulated by the Protectors, Somerset and Northumberland?
  2. How far was Edward VI responsible for the disastrous nine-day reign and eventual execution of Lady Jane Grey?
  3. Edward VI is said to be a Protestant but what is the evidence for this?
  4. What was Edward’s relationship with his half-sisters like?
  5. How far do you think that Henry VIII’s protective upbringing of Edward contributed to his early death?
  6. To what extent was Edward VI influenced by his father?
  7. What was Edward VI’s role in the Protector crisis of 1549?
  8. How did the England of Edward VI under the Duke of Somerset compare to that under the Duke of Northumberland?
  9. Was Edward VI really a weak and sickly king, or did he wield substantial power?
  10. How important was the attempt to marry Edward VI to Mary Queen of Scots in the international diplomatic arena?
Mary I 1544 by Master John.
Mary I 1544 by Master John.

Mary I

  1. How far were Mary’s fears about her sister Elizabeth legitimate in your opinion?
  2. To what extent did Mary’s childhood impact how she approached queenship?
  3. What do you think Mary learnt from each of her stepmothers?
  4. How far do you think that Mary’s marriage to Philip II of Spain tainted future English relations with Spain and the Empire?
  5. What were Mary’s motivations behind the execution of Lady Jane Grey?
  6. How far do you think Mary I deserved the nickname ‘Bloody Mary’?
  7. What drove Mary’s fervent Catholicism?
  8. To what extent were Mary I’s actions driven by her desire to have a child?
  9. How far was Mary I influenced by her mother Katherine of Aragon?
  10. Was Mary I really as ruthless as she is often portrayed?
Elizabeth I Darnley Portrait 1575
Elizabeth I Darnley Portrait 1575

Elizabeth I

  1. What religious difficulties did Elizabeth I face on her accession and how did she deal with them?
  2. How far did Elizabeth I purposefully cultivate a manly image?
  3. Using the films Elizabeth and Elizabeth: the Golden Age how true to the historical record are fictional portrayals of Elizabeth I?
  4. How far was Elizabeth responsible for the rise in English naval power?
  5. To what extent was Elizabeth’s image of the Virgin Queen and Gloriana a calculated propaganda campaign?
  6. How important was the succession in Elizabethan England?
  7. How far do you think Elizabeth’s decision not to marry was driven by the fate of her mother and stepmothers?
  8. How far do you think Elizabeth was influenced by Katherine Parr?
  9. How influential was Elizabeth’s governess, Kat Ashley, on her education and beliefs?
  10. How important was the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 in cementing Elizabeth’s positive image?
Royal Badge of England, including the Tudor Rose.
Royal Badge of England, including the Tudor Rose.


  1. How important were foreign alliances in promoting support of the Tudor dynasty?
  2. How far was religious controversy responsible for the many rebellions under Tudor monarchs 1485-1603?
  3. How important was England in international affairs during the sixteenth century?
  4. Religion tended to stem from the monarch, but how far were the people responsible for their religion in the sixteenth century?
  5. The nobility played a large role in the English court, but why were so many of them indicted on counts of treason 1485-1603?
  6. How did women’s fashions develop throughout the sixteenth century?
  7. How did everyday life of the poor in sixteenth century England compare to that of the middle classes and of the rich?
  8. What did Henry VIII’s children learn from him and apply in their own reigns?
  9. How have the Tudors been shown in literature and imagery from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries?
  10. How have modern media representations of the Tudors as a dynasty changed the general perception of them?

4 thoughts on “Possible Tudor-Related Dissertation / Essay Titles

  1. Hello Ms. Harrison, my name is Kassie Bridges. I am a currently working towards a masters degree in history. I am currently researching letters from the Tudor period to try and challenge the tyrant reputation. I want to prove that he did not deserve this title since many loved him and thought so well of him. In reading letters written from both Henry and his wives along with many others I can never see a time when anyone disliked Henry. Even Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard claimed to love him up until the day they were killed. I would like to prove Henry killed them because of there treasonous actions and that it was both expected and normal for the time ,and that he does not deserve to be called evil or a tyrant. could you offer and help with evidence either in court letters or based in the norm of treason and laws ? please email me with your thoughts.

    Thanks, Kassie Bridges


    1. Hi Kassie,
      It is certainly true that in the first two decades of his reign, Henry VIII probably does not deserve the reputation he now has of being a tyrant, perhaps even for the first two and a half decades. However, for the last decade or so of his reign, it can certainly be argued that Henry was a tyrant. He seems to have executed those who loved him best and served him so well, including Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell, and even Katherine Parr came very close. In the case of Anne Boleyn, I do not believe that she was guilty of adultery or treason in plotting against the king. I don’t think she would have risked her power and position in doing so, from what we know of her character. She may have been indiscreet in comments she made, but there is no surviving evidence that she actually committed adultery. Looking at the indictment many of the times and places named can be disproven. Katherine Howard is potentially a different outcome. The evidence is murky with regards to her relationship with Thomas Culpeper and she was certainly at the very least indiscreet, though actual adultery is far from proven. Her youthful indiscretions before her marriage she probably should have revealed to the king when he first made his intentions plain, but they were not against the law.
      Looking at the original treason act of 1352 and Henry VIII’s treason act of 1534 can help you to understand what the definitions of treason were at the time, though under Henry VIII it became murkier when, for the first time, words and thoughts could be used as evidence of treason. British History Online is also a fantastic resource with letters from the falls of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard which demonstrate that even those who were against the women had doubts about the veracity of the evidence against them. This doesn’t prove by any stretch that Henry VIII wasn’t a tyrant, but it certainly doesn’t suggest that he was a loveable man. Particularly towards the end of his reign, his subjects were scared of him, and with good reason, from what I can tell!


      1. Thank you, I have now been more than convinced that it is not possible to prove henry was good based on all the letters proving the opposite.


        1. It’s certainly interesting to explore whether Henry was a tyrant and if there was a particular incident that perhaps changed his personality. There was a jousting accident in January 1536 at Greenwich that some historians believe could have changed the king. Or looking at Henry VIII as a Renaissance king is also intriguing.


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