Heritage > Rulers
Henry VIII, 1509-1547
Henry was born in 1491. He is famous for his six marriages, which include: Catherine of Aragon (divorced), Anne Boleyn (beheaded), Jane Seymour (marriage annulled), Anne of Cleves (annulled), Catherine Howard (beheaded) and Catherine Parr.
His children were of Catherine of Aragon: Mary; of Anne Boleyn: Elizabeth, of Jane Seymour: Edward.
Henry's older brother Arthur was first to marry Catherine of Aragon, but due to his untimely death she was betrothed to 12 year old Henry, possibly due to the fact that Henry VII did not want to have to give up her dowry.
Henry wanted to build relations with Europe, just as his father had tried to, culminating in a profitable short war with France and in his absence the Earl of Surrey defeated and killed Henry's brother-in-law King James IV of Scotland at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. There was a 30 year peace with Scotland.
Henry came home, leaving Europe and its policies to Thomas Wolsey who wanted Henry to be Emperor and himself to be Pope.
Queen Catherine was unable to produce a male heir, which Henry desperately wanted, and he began to develop doubts about his marriage, believing that God was showing his displeasure at the union. He asked Wolsey to press the Pope to reach an annullment, but the Pope would not do so, and after two years Wolsey was ruined and then died.
His successor as Chancellor was Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell was his chief minister. Cromwell arranged for Henry to become the accepted Head of the Church in England and not the Pope, and this enabled the annullment of Henry's marriage to Catherine.
Henry was secretly married to Anne Boleyn. Her child was a female and Henry's desire for a male heir was so intense that he had Anne beheaded. He married Jane Seymour who died whilst giving birth to a son.
Henry had an a terrible tyrannical way of ruling and executed anyone with whom he had disagreements. Both More and Cromwell were beheaded. Cromwell had made a grievous error by arranging for the marriage of Anne of Cleves to Henry. This marriage was soon annulled. Catherine Howard was beheaded for immorality and Catherine Parr narrowly escaped arrest by his 'Thought Police' for her ability to argue with Henry about theology. She outlived Henry.
Catherine Parr was a Protestant, far more radical than the King and his following of the basic Catholic doctrine. Radical Protestants incited the Catholics, and the future religious stability of England was soon to be put to the test.
In his final years Henry, now contentedly married to Catherine Parr, renewed war with France and Scotland and ruled as a tyrant at home. Henry died on the 28th January 1547 in Whitehall, London at the age of 56 of natural causes.
Henry was portrayed by Charles Laughton in the 1933 file "The Private Life of Henry VIII", also by Laughton in the 1953 film "Young Bess". By James Robertson Justice in the 1953 film, "The Sword and The Rose". By Robert Shaw in the 1966 film "A Man for All Seasons". By Richard Burton in the 1969 film, "Anne of the Thousands Days". Finally by Keith Michell in the 1973 BBC series, "Henry VIII and His Six Wives".
|Knight of the Garter
|Duke of York (1494 created title)
|Duke of Cornwall (1502 inherited)
|Earl of Chester (1504 created title)
|Prince of Wales (1504 created title)
|King of England (1509-1547)