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Henry then spurned her, turning his affections to another woman of his court, Jane Seymour. Within six months he had executed Anne for treason and incest and married Jane, who quickly gave him a son the future Edward IV but died two weeks later. Anne of Cleves was a political bride, chosen to cement an alliance with her brother, the ruler of a Protestant duchy in Germany. The marriage only lasted a few days before Henry had it annulled.

Henry VIII: Early Life

He then married Catherine Howard, but two years later she too was beheaded for treason and adultery. In the last years of his reign Henry grew moody, obese and suspicious, hobbled by personal intrigues and by the persistent leg wound from his jousting injury. His final marriage, to the widow Catherine Parr in , saw his reconciliation with Mary and Elizabeth, who were restored to the line of succession.

His 9-year-old son Edward VI succeeded him as king but died six years later. We strive for accuracy and fairness.


But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. She sought to return England to the Catholic One of the most renowned kings in English history, Henry V led two successful invasions of France, cheering his outnumbered troops to victory at the Battle of Agincourt and eventually securing full control of the French throne. His portrayal in three of When Catherine failed to produce a male heir, Henry divorced her against the will of the Roman Catholic Church, thus precipitating the Protestant Reformation in England.

The plot was organized by Robert Catesby c. After ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the most powerful and influential figures of the Middle Ages. Inheriting a vast estate at the age of 15 made her the most sought-after bride of her generation. She would eventually become the queen of France, the queen of England and As he aged, Henry became severely obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in He is frequently characterised in his later life as a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king.

He was subsequently appointed Earl Marshal of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at age three, and was inducted into the Order of the Bath soon after. The day after the ceremony he was created Duke of York and a month or so later made Warden of the Scottish Marches.

Henry VIII of England

In May , he was appointed to the Order of the Garter. The reason for all the appointments to a small child was so his father could keep personal control of lucrative positions and not share them with established families. In , Arthur died at the age of 15, possibly of sweating sickness , [10] just 20 weeks after his marriage to Catherine. Young Henry was strictly supervised and did not appear in public.

As a result, he ascended the throne "untrained in the exacting art of kingship". Henry VII renewed his efforts to seal a marital alliance between England and Spain, by offering his second son in marriage to Arthur's widow Catherine. Ferdinand's solution was to make his daughter ambassador, allowing her to stay in England indefinitely. Devout, she began to believe that it was God's will that she marry the prince despite his opposition. Soon after his father's burial on 10 May, Henry suddenly declared that he would indeed marry Catherine, leaving unresolved several issues concerning the papal dispensation and a missing part of the marriage portion.

Emperor Maximilian I had been attempting to marry his granddaughter and Catherine's niece Eleanor to Henry; she had now been jilted. Two days after his coronation, Henry arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They were charged with high treason and were executed in Politically-motivated executions would remain one of Henry's primary tactics for dealing with those who stood in his way.

Several who had been imprisoned by his father, including the Marquess of Dorset , were pardoned. Soon after, Catherine conceived, but the child, a girl, was stillborn on 31 January About four months later, Catherine again became pregnant. After the grief of losing their first child, the couple were pleased to have a boy and festivities were held, [26] including a two-day joust known as the Westminster Tournament.

However, the child died seven weeks later. Relations between Henry and Catherine had been strained, but they eased slightly after Mary's birth. Although Henry's marriage to Catherine has since been described as "unusually good", [28] it is known that Henry took mistresses. It was revealed in that Henry had been conducting an affair with one of the sisters of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham , either Elizabeth or Anne Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon. David Loades believes Henry had mistresses "only to a very limited extent", [31] whilst Alison Weir believes there were numerous other affairs.

Certainly war with the combined might of the two powers would have been exceedingly difficult. An initial joint Anglo-Spanish attack was planned for the spring to recover Aquitaine for England, the start of making Henry's dreams of ruling France a reality.

Henry VIII

Nevertheless, the French were pushed out of Italy soon after, and the alliance survived, with both parties keen to win further victories over the French. On 30 June , Henry invaded France, and his troops defeated a French army at the Battle of the Spurs — a relatively minor result, but one which was seized on by the English for propaganda purposes. However, despite initial indications, he decided not to pursue a campaign.

He had been supporting Ferdinand and Maximilian financially during the campaign but had received little in return; England's coffers were now empty. Charles V ascended the thrones of both Spain and the Holy Roman Empire following the deaths of his grandfathers, Ferdinand in and Maximilian in Francis I likewise became king of France upon the death of Louis in , [48] leaving three relatively young rulers and an opportunity for a clean slate.

The careful diplomacy of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey had resulted in the Treaty of London in , aimed at uniting the kingdoms of western Europe in the wake of a new Ottoman threat, and it seemed that peace might be secured. Both hoped for friendly relations in place of the wars of the previous decade. The strong air of competition laid to rest any hopes of a renewal of the Treaty of London, however, and conflict was inevitable.

Charles brought the Empire into war with France in ; Henry offered to mediate, but little was achieved and by the end of the year Henry had aligned England with Charles. He still clung to his previous aim of restoring English lands in France, but also sought to secure an alliance with Burgundy , then part of Charles' realm, and the continued support of Charles. Charles defeated and captured Francis at Pavia and could dictate peace; but he believed he owed Henry nothing. Sensing this, Henry decided to take England out of the war before his ally, signing the Treaty of the More on 30 August During his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon , Henry conducted an affair with Mary Boleyn , Catherine's lady-in-waiting.

There has been speculation that Mary's two children, Henry and Catherine Carey , were fathered by Henry, but this has never been proved, and the King never acknowledged them as he did Henry FitzRoy. These options were legitimising Henry FitzRoy, which would take the intervention of the pope and would be open to challenge; marrying off Mary as soon as possible and hoping for a grandson to inherit directly, but Mary was considered unlikely to conceive before Henry's death; or somehow rejecting Catherine and marrying someone else of child-bearing age.

Probably seeing the possibility of marrying Anne, the third was ultimately the most attractive possibility to the year-old Henry, [58] and it soon became the King's absorbing desire to annul his marriage to the now year-old Catherine. Henry's precise motivations and intentions over the coming years are not widely agreed on. Certainly, by he had convinced himself that in marrying Catherine, his brother's wife, he had acted contrary to Leviticus It was this argument Henry took to Pope Clement VII in in the hope of having his marriage to Catherine annulled, forgoing at least one less openly defiant line of attack.

Knight was unsuccessful; the Pope could not be misled so easily. Other missions concentrated on arranging an ecclesiastical court to meet in England, with a representative from Clement VII. Though Clement agreed to the creation of such a court, he never had any intention of empowering his legate, Lorenzo Campeggio , to decide in Henry's favour. After less than two months of hearing evidence, Clement called the case back to Rome in July , from which it was clear that it would never re-emerge.

He was charged with praemunire in October [64] and his fall from grace was "sudden and total". Intelligent and able, but also a devout Catholic and opponent of the annulment, [67] More initially cooperated with the king's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament. A year later, Catherine was banished from court, and her rooms were given to Anne. Anne was an unusually educated and intellectual woman for her time, and was keenly absorbed and engaged with the ideas of the Protestant Reformers, though the extent to which she herself was a committed Protestant is much debated.

In the winter of , Henry met with Francis I at Calais and enlisted the support of the French king for his new marriage. On 23 May , Cranmer, sitting in judgment at a special court convened at Dunstable Priory to rule on the validity of the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and void.

Inside the Body of King Henry VIII.

Five days later, on 28 May , Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be valid. In her place, Anne was crowned queen consort on 1 June The child was christened Elizabeth , in honour of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York. Following the marriage, there was a period of consolidation taking the form of a series of statutes of the Reformation Parliament aimed at finding solutions to any remaining issues, whilst protecting the new reforms from challenge, convincing the public of their legitimacy, and exposing and dealing with opponents.

The king and queen were not pleased with married life. The royal couple enjoyed periods of calm and affection, but Anne refused to play the submissive role expected of her. The vivacity and opinionated intellect that had made her so attractive as an illicit lover made her too independent for the largely ceremonial role of a royal wife and it made her many enemies. For his part, Henry disliked Anne's constant irritability and violent temper.

After a false pregnancy or miscarriage in , he saw her failure to give him a son as a betrayal. As early as Christmas , Henry was discussing with Cranmer and Cromwell the chances of leaving Anne without having to return to Catherine. Opposition to Henry's religious policies was quickly suppressed in England.

A number of dissenting monks, including the first Carthusian Martyrs , were executed and many more pilloried. Fisher openly rejected Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church, but More was careful to avoid openly breaking the Treason Act, which unlike later acts did not forbid mere silence.

Both men were subsequently convicted of high treason, however — More on the evidence of a single conversation with Richard Rich , the Solicitor General. Both were duly executed in the summer of These suppressions, as well as the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act of , in turn contributed to more general resistance to Henry's reforms, most notably in the Pilgrimage of Grace , a large uprising in northern England in October Aske told the rebels they had been successful and they could disperse and go home.

In total, about rebels were executed, and the disturbances ended. On 8 January news reached the king and the queen that Catherine of Aragon had died. Henry called for public displays of joy regarding Catherine's death. Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and was badly injured; it seemed for a time that his life was in danger.

When news of this accident reached the queen, she was sent into shock and miscarried a male child that was about 15 weeks old, on the day of Catherine's funeral, 29 January Although the Boleyn family still held important positions on the Privy Council, Anne had many enemies, including the Duke of Suffolk. Even her own uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, had come to resent her attitude to her power. The Boleyns preferred France over the Emperor as a potential ally, but the King's favour had swung towards the latter partly because of Cromwell , damaging the family's influence.

A second annulment was now a real possibility, although it is commonly believed that it was Cromwell's anti-Boleyn influence that led opponents to look for a way of having her executed. Anne's downfall came shortly after she had recovered from her final miscarriage. Whether it was primarily the result of allegations of conspiracy, adultery, or witchcraft remains a matter of debate among historians.

Anne was also arrested, accused of treasonous adultery and incest. Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May The day after Anne's execution in the year-old Henry became engaged to Seymour, who had been one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. They were married ten days later. At the time, Henry recovered quickly from the shock. With Charles V distracted by the internal politics of his many kingdoms and external threats, and Henry and Francis on relatively good terms, domestic and not foreign policy issues had been Henry's priority in the first half of the s.

In , for example, Henry granted his assent to the Laws in Wales Act , which legally annexed Wales , uniting England and Wales into a single nation. This was followed by the Second Succession Act the Act of Succession , which declared Henry's children by Jane to be next in the line of succession and declared both Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate, thus excluding them from the throne.

The king was also granted the power to further determine the line of succession in his will, should he have no further issue. Having considered the matter, Cromwell, now Earl of Essex, suggested Anne , the year-old sister of the Duke of Cleves , who was seen as an important ally in case of a Roman Catholic attack on England, for the duke fell between Lutheranism and Catholicism.

Despite his role, he was never formally accused of being responsible for Henry's failed marriage. On 28 July the same day Cromwell was executed , Henry married the young Catherine Howard , a first cousin and lady-in-waiting of Anne Boleyn. She also employed Francis Dereham , who had previously been informally engaged to her and had an affair with her prior to her marriage, as her secretary. The court was informed of her affair with Dereham whilst Henry was away; they dispatched Thomas Cranmer to investigate, who brought evidence of Queen Catherine's previous affair with Dereham to the king's notice.

It took another meeting of the council, however, before Henry believed the accusations against Dereham and went into a rage, blaming the council before consoling himself in hunting. Dereham, meanwhile, exposed Queen Catherine's relationship with Culpeper. Culpeper and Dereham were both executed, and Catherine too was beheaded on 13 February In , the chief minister Thomas Cromwell pursued an extensive campaign against what was termed "idolatry" by the followers of the old religion, culminating in September with the dismantling of the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury.

In , England's remaining monasteries were all dissolved, and their property transferred to the Crown. Abbots and priors lost their seats in the House of Lords ; only archbishops and bishops remained. Consequently, the Lords Spiritual —as members of the clergy with seats in the House of Lords were known—were for the first time outnumbered by the Lords Temporal. The alliance between Francis and Charles had soured, eventually degenerating into renewed war. With Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn dead, relations between Charles and Henry improved considerably, and Henry concluded a secret alliance with the Emperor and decided to enter the Italian War in favour of his new ally.

An invasion of France was planned for Henry now hoped to unite the crowns of England and Scotland by marrying his son Edward to James' successor, Mary. The result was eight years of war between England and Scotland, a campaign later dubbed "the Rough Wooing ". Despite several peace treaties, unrest continued in Scotland until Henry's death. Despite the early success with Scotland, Henry hesitated to invade France, annoying Charles.

Henry finally went to France in June with a two-pronged attack.

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One force under Norfolk ineffectively besieged Montreuil. The other, under Suffolk, laid siege to Boulogne. Henry later took personal command, and Boulogne fell on 18 September Charles' own campaign fizzled, and he made peace with France that same day. Francis attempted to invade England in the summer of , but reached only the Isle of Wight before being repulsed in the Battle of the Solent.

Henry secured Boulogne for eight years. Henry married his last wife, the wealthy widow Catherine Parr , in July Ultimately, Henry remained committed to an idiosyncratic mixture of Catholicism and Protestantism; the reactionary mood which had gained ground following the fall of Cromwell had neither eliminated his Protestant streak nor been overcome by it. The same act allowed Henry to determine further succession to the throne in his will. He was covered with painful, pus-filled boils and possibly suffered from gout. His obesity and other medical problems can be traced to the jousting accident in in which he suffered a leg wound.

The accident re-opened and aggravated a previous injury he had sustained years earlier, to the extent that his doctors found it difficult to treat. The chronic wound festered for the remainder of his life and became ulcerated, thus preventing him from maintaining the level of physical activity he had previously enjoyed. The jousting accident is also believed to have caused Henry's mood swings , which may have had a dramatic effect on his personality and temperament.

The theory that Henry suffered from syphilis has been dismissed by most historians. This analysis identifies growth hormone deficiency GHD as the source for his increased adiposity but also significant behavioural changes noted in his later years, including his multiple marriages. Henry's obesity hastened his death at the age of 55, which occurred on 28 January in the Palace of Whitehall , on what would have been his father's 90th birthday. He allegedly uttered his last words: Upon Henry's death, he was succeeded by his son Edward VI.

Since Edward was then only nine years old, he could not rule directly. Instead, Henry's will designated 16 executors to serve on a council of regency until Edward reached the age of If Mary's issue failed, the crown was to go to Elizabeth, Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn, and her heirs. Finally, if Elizabeth's line became extinct, the crown was to be inherited by the descendants of Henry VIII's deceased younger sister, Mary, the Greys.

Henry cultivated the image of a Renaissance man , and his court was a centre of scholarly and artistic innovation and glamorous excess, epitomised by the Field of the Cloth of Gold. He scouted the country for choirboys, taking some directly from Wolsey's choir, and introduced Renaissance music into court. Henry himself kept a considerable collection of instruments; he was skilled on the lute , could play the organ, and was a talented player of the virginals.

He is often reputed to have written " Greensleeves " but probably did not. He was an avid gambler and dice player, and excelled at sports, especially jousting, hunting, and real tennis. He was known for his strong defence of conventional Christian piety. Henry was an intellectual. The first English king with a modern humanist education, he read and wrote English, French and Latin, and was thoroughly at home in his well-stocked library.

He personally annotated many books and wrote and published one of his own. To promote the public support for the reformation of the church, Henry had numerous pamphlets and lectures prepared. For example, Richard Sampson's Oratio was an argument for absolute obedience to the monarchy and claimed that the English church had always been independent from Rome.

A large well-built athlete over 6 feet [1. More than pastimes, they were political devices that served multiple goals, from enhancing his athletic royal image to impressing foreign emissaries and rulers, to conveying Henry's ability to suppress any rebellion. Thus he arranged a jousting tournament at Greenwich in , where he wore gilded armour, gilded horse trappings, and outfits of velvet, satin and cloth of gold dripping with pearls and jewels.

It suitably impressed foreign ambassadors, one of whom wrote home that, "The wealth and civilisation of the world are here, and those who call the English barbarians appear to me to render themselves such". He then started adding weight and lost the trim, athletic figure that had made him so handsome; Henry's courtiers began dressing in heavily padded clothes to emulate — and flatter — their increasingly stout monarch.

Towards the end of his reign his health rapidly declined. The power of Tudor monarchs, including Henry, was 'whole' and 'entire', ruling, as they claimed, by the grace of God alone. These included acts of diplomacy including royal marriages , declarations of war, management of the coinage, the issue of royal pardons and the power to summon and dissolve parliament as and when required. In practice, Tudor monarchs used patronage to maintain a royal court that included formal institutions such as the Privy Council as well as more informal advisers and confidants.

Elton has argued that one such minister, Thomas Cromwell, led a "Tudor revolution in government" quite independent of the king, whom Elton presented as an opportunistic, essentially lazy participant in the nitty-gritty of politics. Where Henry did intervene personally in the running of the country, Elton argued, he mostly did so to its detriment. From to , Thomas Wolsey — , a cardinal of the established Church, oversaw domestic and foreign policy for the young king from his position as Lord Chancellor. The Star Chamber's overall structure remained unchanged, but Wolsey used it to provide for much-needed reform of the criminal law.

The power of the court itself did not outlive Wolsey, however, since no serious administrative reform was undertaken and its role was eventually devolved to the localities. Returning to England from the continent in or , Cromwell soon entered Wolsey's service. He turned to law, also picking up a good knowledge of the Bible, and was admitted to Gray's Inn in He became Wolsey's "man of all work".

By , Cromwell and those associated with him were already responsible for the drafting of much legislation. Cromwell did much work through his many offices to remove the tasks of government from the Royal Household and ideologically from the personal body of the King and into a public state. Henry inherited a vast fortune and a prosperous economy from his father Henry VII, who had been frugal and careful with money.

Although he further augmented his royal treasury through the seizure of church lands, Henry's heavy spending and long periods of mismanagement damaged the economy. Much of this wealth was spent by Henry on maintaining his court and household, including many of the building works he undertook on royal palaces. Henry hung 2, tapestries in his palaces; by comparison, James V of Scotland hung just This income came from the Crown lands that Henry owned as well as from customs duties like tonnage and poundage , granted by parliament to the king for life.

Indeed, war and Henry's dynastic ambitions in Europe exhausted the surplus he had inherited from his father by the mids. Cromwell debased the currency more significantly, starting in Ireland in The English pound halved in value against the Flemish pound between and as a result.

The nominal profit made was significant, helping to bring income and expenditure together, but it had a catastrophic effect on the overall economy of the country. In part, it helped to bring about a period of very high inflation from onwards. Henry is generally credited with initiating the English Reformation — the process of transforming England from a Catholic country to a Protestant one — though his progress at the elite and mass levels is disputed, [] and the precise narrative not widely agreed.

Pollard has argued, even if Henry had not needed an annulment, Henry may have come to reject papal control over the governance of England purely for political reasons. In any case, between and , Henry instituted a number of statutes that dealt with the relationship between king and pope and hence the structure of the nascent Church of England.

The Ecclesiastical Appointments Act required the clergy to elect bishops nominated by the Sovereign. The Act of Supremacy in declared that the King was "the only Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England" and the Treasons Act made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging the King as such. Similarly, following the passage of the Act of Succession , all adults in the Kingdom were required to acknowledge the Act's provisions declaring Henry's marriage to Anne legitimate and his marriage to Catherine illegitimate by oath; [] those who refused were subject to imprisonment for life, and any publisher or printer of any literature alleging that the marriage to Anne was invalid subject to the death penalty.

Henry, to Thomas Cromwell's annoyance, insisted on parliamentary time to discuss questions of faith, which he achieved through the Duke of Norfolk. This led to the passing of the Act of Six Articles , whereby six major questions were all answered by asserting the religious orthodoxy, thus restraining the reform movement in England. Henry established a new political theology of obedience to the crown that was continued for the next decade. It reflected Martin Luther 's new interpretation of the fourth commandment "Honour thy father and mother" , brought to England by William Tyndale.

The founding of royal authority on the Ten Commandments was another important shift: The reformers' efforts lay behind the publication of the Great Bible in in English. Many fled abroad, including the influential Tyndale, [] who was eventually executed and his body burned at Henry's behest. When taxes once payable to Rome were transferred to the Crown, Cromwell saw the need to assess the taxable value of the Church's extensive holdings as they stood in The result was an extensive compendium, the Valor Ecclesiasticus.

The visitation focussed almost exclusively on the country's religious houses, with largely negative conclusions. The result was to encourage self-dissolution. By January no such houses remained: The programme was designed primarily to create a landed gentry beholden to the crown, which would use the lands much more efficiently. Response to the reforms was mixed.