The fascination with fireworks spread from China west to Europe. By the time of Henry VII in the late 1400s, many of the rulers of Europe had incorporated fireworks into their celebrations, weddings and coronations. They even shot them off from their castles to create a breathtaking display. Fireworks had become a means of entertainment, not just for the elite, but for the masses as well, who were able to watch the skies light up with color and wonder.
In England, the earliest fireworks celebration took place at Henry VII’s wedding in 1486. Henry’s wedding was a good reason to celebrate because this marriage symbolically united the two warring houses of England: the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The two factions had been fighting for the power of England’s throne for some time now, and, since Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth, who represented York, and Henry VII, who represented Lancaster, were now married, it forced a truce. The “War of the Roses” was officially ended. To emphasize this even further, the new design for the House of Tudor had been drawn up with two roses—red for Lancaster and a white for York.
The people assumed that both Henry and Elizabeth would share the throne, but Henry was not about the share power with anyone just yet. His marriage combined with his previous conquests on behalf of Lancaster had secured his place as king for the time being. Fortunately for him, Elizabeth did not crave power; she left the politics up to him and took on the royal duties of being the wife of an English king.
Once his first son, Arthur, was born, Henry VII felt secure enough to have Elizabeth crowned as “queen consort” in 1487. But this did not stop the plots swirling around the country to dethrone him. Out of desperation, he made two trade treaties with the rulers of France and the Netherlands. He also arranged marriages for his children with the ruling houses of Spain and Scotland. By guaranteeing England’s economic and political security, he secured his position as King of England. Henry VII was a savvy king; he strictly enforced royal taxes, ensuring that the country would be financially sound. He also shifted the government to function as a more centralized Tudor state.
Henry VII’s older son, Arthur had suddenly died at the age of 15, so when Henry VII passed away in 1509, his second son, Henry VIII took over as King of England.