Henry VIII, 1491 - 1547


Henry VIII  1491-1547


Henry was the king of England from 1509 - 1547.

Henry VIII was the second of five  Tudor family members to rule England. Being an egomaniac, he always did things his way while appearing perplexed that life could have so many troubles in store for such a good person as he.

The man had a wearing effect on his environment. When hunting, he easily tired eight to ten horses. In politics he drained even the most talented ministers. And, most infamously, in marriage he exhausted six wives.

Henry had the charisma of a leader but lacked other necessary qualities. However, he possessed considerable understanding of political affairs. Unfortunately, he made it a habit to blame others for his mistakes.

Henry was six feet tall, powerfully built, intelligent, and very religious. He spoke French, Latin, and Spanish. Henry wrote books, loved hunting, tennis, art and music.


Henry's Family

Henry's father was Henry VII and his mother was Elizabeth of York.

First wife - Catherine of Aragon.
This marriage was annulled. One surviving daughter, the future queen, Mary I. Catherine died in 1536 of natural causes.

Catherine of Aragon

Second wife - Anne Boleyn.
She had one surviving daughter, the future queen,
 Elizabeth I. Anne was charged with adultery and executed in 1536. Historians speculate, however, that the charges were trumped up and Anne could have avoided her death by producing a male heir.

Anne Boleyn

Third wife - Jane Seymour.
She bore a son who was later to become Henry's successor, Edward VI. Jane died in childbirth in 1537.

Jane Seymour

Fourth wife - Anne of Cleves.
They married in 1540 in order for Henry to form a political alliance with the German Protestants. Sadly, Henry was very disappointed by her appearance and dull personality. He soon had the marriage annulled.

Anne of Cleves

Fifth wife -  Catherine Howard.
She and Henry were married in 1540, three weeks after annulment of his marriage to Anne. Catherine was executed in 1542 after Henry learned about her premarital affairs. No children.

Catherine Howard

Sixth wife - Catherine Parr.
She married in 1543 and was the lucky winner
who survived Henry.
No children.

Catherine Parr

Henry's Titles

Henry wrote the book Declaration of the Seven Sacraments against Martin Luther. For this work he was rewarded by the pope with the title "Defender of the Faith" (Latin: Fidei Defensor).

This title is still borne by British monarchs and appears on British coins abbreviated as FID DEF or FD.


Henry's Divorce From Wife and Church

Henry's first wife, Catherine, failed to give birth to a male heir. Consequently, Henry sought to divorce her, an unthinkable step for a Catholic.

Henry pressured the pope to annul this marriage, arguing that it had been illegal in the first place, since Catherine was Henry's brother Arthur's widow.

For the following reasons the pope refused to comply: First, the marriage was declared legal by a previous pope. Reversing the verdict would compromise the pope's authority. Second, Rome was in the tight grip of the German Emperor
 Charles V, who also happened to be Catherine's nephew.

Henry took matters into his own hands. In 1534, he declared himself head of the Church of England and issued several laws that significantly cut back the pope's power in England. In response, the pope excommunicated Henry. This didn't cause Henry much concern, however. His marriage with Catherine was finally declared invalid, and Anne Boleyn became queen.

But by reducing the pope's influence, Henry also unwillingly made way for all protestant influences; thus he unintentionally started the English Reformation.

Interestingly, Henry himself still preferred the Catholic faith and by an act of Parliament he later reaffirmed Catholic doctrines. This was a huge disappointment for protestant reformers.


Henry's Budget

Henry had an eye on the enormous wealth of the Church. To get an idea of how rich the Church in England and Wales really was, Henry commissioned an official Church Valuation, the Valor Ecclesiasticus. The year? 1535.

He also passed a law that henceforward all taxes on Church income had to be paid to the Crown instead of the Pope.

In 1536, Henry started to close down monasteries and confiscate their assets.


Valor Ecclesiasticus - Henry's Church Valuation
from the title page of
Valor Ecclesiasticus,


And here is  Henry VIII's timeline.





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