Unification of Wales and England 1536

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Map Code: Ax01758

The Marcher Lords of Wales were a throwback to the Norman Conquest, enjoying wide feudal powers, including the right to build castles, administer their own justice and even (theoretically, at least) to declare war. Over the centuries these powers had eroded, through the reversion of lordships (without heir) to the Crown, a process accelerated by the savage culling that resulted from the Wars of the Roses (1455–85). Henry VIII, averse to any challenge to his power, decided to eliminate this anomaly. Following his break from the Catholic Church, he was particularly mindful of any potential reservoirs of independent authority; his Laws in Wales Act (1536), abolished the Lordships, dividing their territories between existing English and newly created Welsh counties, and imposing the standard English justice system. The Act also established English as the language of the courts, and a prerequisite of obtaining public office, a source of future grievance.

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