Just Who Was Henry VIII of England?

England has seen some truly infamous monarchs over the centuries, yet for many King Henry VIII of England is the one whom most people tend to focus on.

When you consider the legacy this king left behind, and indeed, when you learn more about his life and his rule over England, it’s easy to see why.

Here’s a brief, yet detailed, an overview of the life and times of the infamous King Henry VIII of England.

Early Life

Henry was born at Greenwich Palace, also known as Palace of Placentia on the 28th of June, 1491.

He was the second son of King Henry VII, also known as Henry Tudor, as subsequently, Henry was not actually the heir to the throne of England until his older brother Arthur passed away in 1502.

In 1509, Henry became heir to the throne.

In 1509, Henry married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, on the 11th of June, who was his own brother’s widow.

Unlike many of his generation, Henry was actually a very well-spoken and well educated young man, who spoke fluent Latin, Spanish and French. He was also a very talented musician as he composed music, was a good tennis player, was a talented wrestler due to his large frame, plus he would often ‘cast the bar’ which was essentially the tossing of a heavy iron bar.

He also hunted, took part in archery and was even a capable jouster!

Overseas Conflict

In the year 1511, Henry joined the Holy League with Spain, Venice and the Holy Roman Empire to help curb French aggression in parts of Italy.

He led an invasion on the French in 1512/1513, launching the warship Mary Rose.

The English won the Battle of the Spurs, and in 1514 he made peace with the French, and his sister Mary actually wed the King of France, Louis XII.

Henry named Cardinal Thomas Wolsey his lord chancellor, where he remained until 1529 when he was replaced by Sir Thomas Moore.

Henry VIII’s 6 Wives

Henry VIII is perhaps best known, and in some cases only known for his six marriages.

First was Catherine of Aragon, whom was his brother’s widow.

Next was Anne Boleyn whom Henry began an affair with whilst still married to Catherine. However, after having his marriage annulled with Catherine, the two were married. Henry soon grew tired of her and accused her of adultery with 5 other men, including her own brother, and all 6 were executed on these grounds.

His third wife was Jane Seymour whom gave the king the male heir he had always wanted. Jane died 11 days later due to post-partum complications, and the king was said to be genuinely struck by grief by her passing.

His fourth wife was Anne of Cleves, who was a German princess and the king’s wife for just six months. Their marriage was annulled due to her pre-contract of marriage with Francis I, Duke of Lorraine. She got off lightly here as she did not protest, and was rewarded with Hever Castle. She and the king remained friends until his death.

Catherine Howard was the fifth wife of Henry and was known as the ‘Rose Without a Thorn’. She married the king on the 28th of July 1540 aged just 17, whilst the king was 49. She was accused of adultery in 1541 and was soon after beheaded.

Catherine Parr was the sixth and final wife of Henry and outlived the King. She married Thomas Seymour after the King died, though sadly died shortly after giving birth to Seymour’s only child with her.

Death

On the 28th of January 1547, King Henry VIII of England died aged 55. He was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor, on the 16th of February.

He was succeeded by his son, Edward VI.

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