He separated the Anglican Church from the hierarchy and established himself as the Supreme Head of Church of England. He advocated catholic ceremony and doctrine throughout his life. Henry VIII was born in Greenwich Palace, the third child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Among Henrys six sibling, only three survived infancy, namely Arthur, Margaret, and Mary. As it was expected, Arthur is next in throne.
In 1502, Arthur died suddenly, at 15 years old. Then his duties were transferred to his younger brother Henry VIII, who eventually became Prince of Wales. His father renewed marital alliance between England and Spain by offering his son Henry VIII in marriage to Prince Arthurs widow, Catherine of Aragon. Catherine was the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. Henry VIII married Catherine on June 11 1509 after his fathers death and on June 24 1509 the two were crowned at Westminster Abbey.
After his coronation, he arrested two of his fathers ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley and charged them with treason. They were executed in 1510.
On February 18, 1516, Queen Catherine gave birth to Princess Mary of England, Henrys first child, and was later reined as Mary I of England. Henry also had two mistresses namely Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn. Blount bore Henrys illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy. The boy was made Duke of Richmond in June 1925 to legitimatize him. Mary Boleyn was the
sister of Anne Boleyn who later married Henry VIII. She was thought to have been his mistress between 1519 and 1526.
Henry became impatient with Catherines inability to produce the male heir he wants. All of their children died during infancy except Mary. He wants a male heir to avoid claims to the crown like what caused the Wars of Roses before Henry VII his father became king. As Henry grew more impatient, he started to seek a young woman in the Queens entourage, Anne Boleyn. Anne resisted Henrys attempts to seduce her, and declined to become his mistress as what happened to her sister Mary.
However, her refusal made Henry more attracted, and he pursued her relentlessly. Eventually, Anne gives in and sees her opportunity in Henrys infatuation and demands to be acknowledged as a queen. Henry soon decided to annul his marriage to Catherine. Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn went through a secret marriage ad she soon became pregnant. And as a custom with royalty, there was a second wedding service, which happened in London on January 25 1533.
Events began to move quickly. And on May 23 1533, Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon null and void in the special court convened at Dunstable Priory. And on May 28 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne to be good and valid. Anne was crowned queen consort on June 1 1533. Anne had given birth to a girl who was christened Elizabeth, in honor of Henry VIII mother, Elizabeth of York. Parliament validated the marriage of Henry and Anne with the Act of Succession 1533. Catherines daughter, Lady Mary, was declared illegitimate, and Annes child was declared next in the line of succession.
After a long time, the king and queen were not pleased with married life. Anne refused to act a submissive role expected of her. And Henry disliked Annes constant irritability and violent temper. After a miscarriage in 1534, he saw her failure to give him a son as a betrayal. On January 8 1536, news reached the king and queen that Catherine of Aragon had died. Henry called for public displays of joy regarding Catherines death. The queen was pregnant again, and she was aware of the consequences if she fails to give him an heir. But when the king was involved in an accident and was badly injured, the queen was shocked and miscarried a male child. It happened on the day of Catherines funeral on January 29 1536.
As Anne recovered from her final miscarriage, Henry VIII declared that his marriage is a product of witchcraft. Jane Seymour, the kings new mistress was quickly moved into new quarters. Annes brother together with four men were arrested on charges of incest and treason, accused of having sexual relations with the queen. Anne was then arrested and taken to the Tower of London on May 2 1536. She was accused of adultery, incest, and high treason. The accused were found guilty even though the evidence against them are not substantial. George Boleyn and the other men were executed on May 17 1536. The queen was executed at the Tower Green early morning on May 19 1536.
A day after Annes execution, Henry became engaged to Jane Seymour, and were married ten days later. At the same time his third marriage, Henry declared the Act of Succession 1536, which makes Henrys children to Queen Jane to be next in line of succession and declared both Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth illegitimate, excluding them from the throne. In 1537, Jane bore a son, Prince Edward, the future Edward VI. But the queen died after giving birth due to an infection at Greenwich Palace on October 24 1537. After her death, the entire court mourned with Henry. He considered Jane to be his true wife, because she is the only one who had given him a male heir.
After two years, Henry was forced to marry Anne Cleves to secure an alliance. They were married on January 6, 1540. Annes upbringing had concentrated on domestic skills and not of music and literature. Henry doesnt find her attractive and feels he wants to end the marriage. And eventually, he had become attracted to young Kathryn Howard. After the dissolved marriage of Henry and Anne of Cleves, Anne accepted a title as the Kings Sister and she was given property, including Hever Castle. Sixteen days after, Henry VIII married Kathryn Howard.
The young Kathryn brought back some of Henrys zest for life and the king in turn lavished gifts to her new wife. Not long after, rumors of the new queens infidelity began. The young queen had an affair with Thomas Culpeper. At first, Henry did not believe the accusations but he motioned for another investigation and enough evidence was gathered showing that the queen had been promiscuous. She was execute on February 13, 1542 at the Tower Green and laid beside her cousin Anne Boleyn in the Chapel of Saint Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London.
Henry married a wealthy widow named Catherine Parr, his last wife, in 1543. She often argued with Henry regarding religion. She was interested in the reformed faith, and Henry remained conservative. This behavior nearly brought her to prison but she saved herself by showing submissiveness. She helped Henry to reconcile with his first two daughters and in 1544, an Act of Parliament put the daughters back in the lie of succession though they were still illegitimate.
Ashley, Mike. British Kings & Queens. (2002) ISBN 0-7867-1104-3.
Childs, Jessie. Henry VIIIs Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. London: Jonathan Cape, 2006 (hardback, ISBN 0-224-06325-1).
Starkey, David. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII. (2003) ISBN 0060005505.
Wier, Allison. The Six Wives of Henry VIII. (1991) ISBN 0802136834
Wier, Allison. Henry VIII: The King and His Court. (2002) ISBN 034543708X.