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Tudors - King Henry VIII

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King Henry VIII
Name: King Henry VIII
Father: King Henry VII
Mother: Elizabeth of York
Born: June 28, 1491 at Greenwich
Ascended to the throne: April 21, 1509 aged 17 years
Crowned: June 24, 1509 at Westminster
Married:(1) Catherine of Aragon, on June 11, 1509
Married (2): Anne Boleyn, on January 25, 1533
Married (3): Jane Seymour, on May 30, 1536
Married (4): Anne of Cleves, on January 6, 1540
Married (5): Catherine Howard, on July 28, 1540
Married (6): Catherine Parr, on July 12, 1543
Children: Mary, Elizabeth, Edward + Henry Fitzroy (illegitimate)
Died: January 28, 1547 at Whitehall Palace, aged 55 years, 7 months,
Buried at: St Georges Chapel, Windsor

500th Anniversary of Henry VIII's accession - Tudor and Mary Rose Royal Mail stamp covers

King of England from 1509, when he succeeded his father Henry VII and married Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his elder brother Arthur. During the period 1513–29 Henry pursued an active foreign policy, largely under the guidance of his Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, who shared Henry's desire to make England stronger. Wolsey was replaced by Thomas More in 1529 for failing to persuade the Pope to grant Henry a divorce.

6 Wives of Henry VIII Book available hereBy this time Henry's policy had become dominated by his desire to divorce Catherine because she was too old to give him an heir and he was determined to marry Anne Boleyn. At first there seemed a possibility that the divorce might be granted. The papal legate journeyed to England to hear the case, but Catherine appealed direct to the pope and the court was adjourned. The position was complicated by the fact that Charles V, Catherine's nephew, controlled Rome. Henry then proceeded to act through Parliament, and had the entire body of the clergy in England declared guilty of treason in 1531. The clergy were suitably cowed and agreed to repudiate papal supremacy and recognize Henry as supreme head of the church in England. The English ecclesiastical courts then pronounced his marriage to Catherine null and void and he married Anne Boleyn in 1533

Henry VIII Book available hereHenry through Thomas Cromwell continued his attack on the church with the suppression of the monasteries (1536–39); their lands were confiscated and granted to his supporters. However, although he laid the ground for the English Reformation by the separation from Rome, he had little sympathy with Protestant dogmas. As early as 1521 a pamphlet which he had written against Lutheranism had won him the title of Fidei Defensor from the pope, and Henry's own religious views are quite clearly expressed in the Statute of Six Articles in 1539 which instituted the orthodox Catholic tenets as necessary conditions for Christian belief. As a result Protestants were being burnt for heresy even while Catholics were being executed for refusing to take the oath of supremacy.

Anne Boleyn was beheaded in 1536, ostensibly for adultery. Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, died in 1537. He married Anne of Cleves in 1540 in pursuance of Thomas Cromwell's policy of allying with the German Protestants, but rapidly abandoned this policy, divorced Anne, and beheaded Cromwell. His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was beheaded in 1542, and the following year he married Catherine Parr, who survived him. Henry ended his reign with the reputation of a tyrant, despite the promise of his earlier years – in 1536 the rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace was viciously suppressed, and advisers of the calibre of More and Bishop John Fisher had died rather than sacrifice their own principles to Henry's will. But the power of the crown had been considerably strengthened by Henry's ecclesiastical policy, and the monastic confiscations gave impetus to the rise of a new nobility which was to become influential in succeeding reigns.

King Henry VIII's Signature

Signature of King Henry VIII

View Movie Trailer
Title: The Tudors
Starring: Jonathon Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII
and Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn
Released: 2008 TV Series
Production: Reveille Productions


‘We are, by the sufferance of God, King of England; and the Kings of England in times past never had any superior but God’ – King Henry VIII

'If a man shall take his brother's wife it is an unclean thing... they shall be childless' – King Henry VIII (quoting The Bible, Leviticus, XX,21, as justification of seeking divorce from Catherine of Aragon who had previously been married to his brother Prince Arthur)

‘ wish myself (specially an evening) in my sweetheart's arms, whose pretty ducks [breasts] I trust shortly to kiss’  - King Henry VIII (love letter to Ann Boleyn)

‘You have sent me a Flanders mare!’ - King Henry VIII (on first meeting Anne of Cleves who was about to become his 4th wife)



 Henry accedes to the throne on the death of his father, Henry VII. 


 Henry marries Catherine of Aragon, daughter of the Spanish King and Queen, and widow of his elder brother, Arthur 


 Henry joins the Holy League against the French. All men under the age of 40 are required to practise archery. 


 The English defeat the Scots at the Battle of Flodden Field. James IV of Scotland is killed. 


 Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York, becomes Chancellor and Cardinal. 


 Catherine gives birth to Princess Mary (later Mary I). 


 Martin Luther publishes his 95 theses against the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. 


 The Pope and the Kings of England, France, and Spain pledge peace in Europe 


 Henry holds peace talks with Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, but fails to get support against Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. 


 Hampton Court Palace is completed. William Tyndale publishes The New Testament in English.  


 Cardinal Wolsey re-establishes the Council of the North 


 Henry seeks permission from the Pope to divorce Catherine of Aragon but is refused. 


 Cardinal Wolsey is accused of high treason for failing to get the Pope's consent for the divorce, but dies before he can be brought to trial. 


 Sir Thomas More becomes Chancellor. Henry starts to cut ties with the Church of Rome.  


 The appearance in the sky of Halley's comet causes widespread panic and talk of holy retribution 


 Sir Thomas More resigns from the Chancellorship over the erosion of Papal authority. 


 Thomas Cranmer is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury and annuls Henry’s 24-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon. 


 Henry marries Anne Boleyn. 


 Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) is born. 


 Pope Clement VII excommunicates Henry 


 The Act of Supremacy is passed, establishing Henry as head of the Church of England. 


 Sir Thomas More is executed after refusing to recognize Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England. 


 Thomas Cromwell is made Vicar-General and starts plans to seize the Church's wealth. 


 First complete English translation of the Bible by Miles Coverdale 


 Anne Boleyn is executed and Henry marries Jane Seymour 


 The Act of Union between Wales and England. 


 Thomas Cromwell begins the dissolution of the monasteries under the 'Reformation'. . 


 Great northern rising, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace against the dissolution of monasteries. 


 Jane Seymour dies giving birth to Edward (later Edward VI). 


 Parliament passes the Act for the 'Dissolution of the Greater Monasteries'. The abbots of Colchester, Glastonbury and Reading are executed for treason.  


 The last of the monasteries to be dissolved is Waltham Abbey.  


 Henry marries Anne of Cleves in January but the marriage is annulled in July 


 Execution of Thomas Cromwell on a charge of treason. 


 Henry marries Catherine Howard. 


 Beginning of the Reformation in Scotland under John Knox. 


 Catherine Howard is executed for treason. 


 James V of Scotland dies and is succeeded by his 6 day old daughter Mary Queen of Scots. 


 Henry marries the twice-widowed Catherine Parr, his sixth and last wife. 


 Treaty of Greenwich proposes marriage between Henry's son Edward and Mary Queen of Scots. However it is repudiated by the Scots 6 months later who want an alliance with France.  


 Henry's flagship The Mary Rose sinks in the Solent 


 Henry becomes increasingly ill with what is now believed to be syphilis and cirrhosis. 


 Death of Henry at the age of 55, survived by Catherine Parr 

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