Henry VIII


Henry VIII was the English monarch from 1509 until his death in 1547. Over the course of those years, he demonstrated incredible appetites for power, legacy and women. Henry was immensely popular with the English public. In the early years of his rule he was lauded for his intelligence, athleticism, appearance and good humour.


In 1509, Henry married Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, rulers of Spain. Throughout their marriage, Catherine gave birth to three sons, none of whom survived infancy. In addition, she had one daughter, Mary, who was destined to become Bloody Mary, Queen of England. In addition to not getting a male heir from his marriage to Catherine, he was also madly in love with another woman, Anne Boleyn. Henry tried to get his marriage to Catherine annulled, but possibly due to the power and influence of Catherine's nephew, King Charles V of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Clement VII denied his request. Henry felt he had a case as Catherine was initially married to his older brother, since deceased, and thereby their marriage was illegitimate.


As a result of this denial, King Henry passed the Act of Supremacy in 1534, officially naming himself, alongside all of his descendants, as the official head of the Church of England. Although there was initially little difference in practice between Henry's church and that of the Catholic Church in Rome, the dye had been cast for secular rulers to now make changes to religion as they saw fit. Henry, for his part, would not stop with Anne Boleyn. Amid rumours of treachery and infidelity, he had Anne beheaded at the Tower of London (not before Anne gave him a second daughter, Elizabeth, who would go on to have a 45 year reign as the Queen of England). He replaced her with Jane Seymour, who bore him a son, Edward (who would be King Edward VII for a short time following Henry's death). Jane died shortly after giving birth. He followed Jane with Anne of Cleves, who was allegedly "not attractive enough for a king," and had that marriage annulled by reason of lack of consummation. His fifth wife, Catherine Howard, was a girl of 19 when King Henry was 49 years old. After two years, amid charges of infidelity, Catherine joined her cousin Anne Boleyn as the two of Henry's wives who were beheaded at the Tower of London. His final wife, Katherine Parr, remained with Henry until his own death in 1547.


Henry's church, the Church of England (known as the Anglican Church in Canada), survives today and currently has 28 million adeherents.

Henry VIII - Read by Mr. Berrigan
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