King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

Born: June 28, 1491 in Greenwich Palace, Greenwich
Died: Jan 28, 1547 (at age 55) in Palace of Whitehall, London
Nationality: English
Famous For: Breaking the Church of England away from the Roman Catholic Church

King Henry VIII was an England ruler between 1509 and 1547. He was an athletic young man who famously grew larger in life. He is famous for marrying six wives as part of his quest for a male heir and breaking the Church of England away from Roman Catholicism. Many scholars have listed him as the most famous English monarch of all time.

Early Life

Henry was born on June 28, 1491 as the second son of Henry VII. As a young man, he was tall and athletic and in most cases, he engaged in sports and hunting. After the death of his father in 1509, he became the king as a dynamic young man.

After ascending to the throne, he married Arthur’s widow, Catherine. After his marriage, he started to become actively involved in international and military affairs. King Henry VII pursued a campaign against France. The campaign was organized by Thomas Wosley.

Thomas Wosley

By 1515, Thomas Wosley had been promoted to Archbishop, chief minister and cardinal. Thomas had become one of the most powerful ministers in English history and a great friend to the king. Thomas and Henry pursued a great diplomatic and military policy that was designed to raise England’s profile in European affairs that was basically dominated by Spanish-Franco-Habsurb rivalry.

Some attempts by Thomas to change England’s alliances to maintain an important position brought a backslash. This damaged the important income from English-Netherlands cloth trade. At home, the citizens were also very upset.

With Thomas becoming more and more unpopular, Henry removed him. Thomas Cromwell took over from him; he took control of the royal council in 1531 and created a solution that would cause revolution in English religion and kingship. The solution replaced the pope as the head of the church in England with the king himself.

Marriage to Anne Boleyn

Henry’s marriage to Catherine produced only one child; a girl they named Mary. Henry was left worried and desperate for a male heir. He had also fallen out of love with Catherine and was now interested in a lady named Anne. Henry divorced Catherine and married Anne. In January 1532, Henry married Anne. In May of that year, a new archbishop declared the previous marriage void.

English Reformation

The start of the English Reformation was first felt after Cromwell’s break with Rome. This was a switch to Protestantism. King Henry VIII, being a passionate Catholic, took time to come to terms with the change he made. The English Church which had been altered by a series of laws was a halfway house between Protestant and Catholic.

The Wives of King Henry VIII

After divorcing Catherine and marrying Anne, Henry’s quest for a male heir began. Anne managed to give Henry a baby girl, the future Elizabeth I. Henry married another wife, Jane Seymour, who died while giving birth to Edward VI. After this, he married another woman named Anne Cleves whom he later divorced. A few years later, he married Catherine Howard who was executed for adultery. Henry’s last wife was named Catherine Parr and she actually outlived him.

As he aged, King Henry grew ill and fat. After a final campaign against France and Scotland, he died on January 28, 1547.