Henry VIII

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Related to Henry VIII: Mary Queen of Scots, Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII,

1491–1547, king of England (1509–47), second son and successor of Henry VIIHenry VII,
1457–1509, king of England (1485–1509) and founder of the Tudor dynasty. Claim to the Throne

Henry was the son of Edmund Tudor, earl of Richmond, who died before Henry was born, and Margaret Beaufort, a descendant of Edward III through John
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Early Life

In his youth he was educated in the new learning of the Renaissance and developed great skill in music and sports. He was created prince of Wales in 1503, following the death of his elder brother, Arthur. At that time he also received a papal dispensation to marry Arthur's widow, Katharine of AragónKatharine of Aragón,
1485–1536, first queen consort of Henry VIII of England; daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragón and Isabella of Castile. In 1501 she was married to Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII.
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. The marriage took place shortly after his accession in 1509.


Wolsey and Foreign Policy

As king, Henry inherited from his father a budget surplus and a precedent for autocratic rule. In 1511, Henry joined Pope Julius II, King Ferdinand II of Aragón, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and the Venetians in their Holy LeagueHoly League,
in Italian history, alliance formed (1510–11) by Pope Julius II during the Italian Wars for the purpose of expelling Louis XII of France from Italy, thereby consolidating papal power.
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 against France. The campaign, organized by Henry's talented minister Thomas (later cardinal) WolseyWolsey, Thomas
, 1473?–1530, English statesman and prelate, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Early Career

Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, Wolsey served for a while as master of the Magdalen College school. He was ordained a priest in 1498.
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, had little success. A more popular conflict, which occurred during Henry's absence, was the victory (1513) of Thomas Howard, 2d duke of Norfolk, at FloddenFlodden,
field, Northumberland, N England, just across the border from Coldstream, Scotland. It was the scene of the battle of Flodden Field (1513), in which the English under Thomas Howard, 2d duke of Norfolk, defeated the Scots under James IV, who was killed.
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 over the invading Scottish forces under James IVJames IV,
1473–1513, king of Scotland (1488–1513), son and successor of James III. He was an able and popular king, and his reign was one of stability and progress for Scotland.
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Rapid changes in the diplomatic situation following the death of Ferdinand (1516) enabled Wolsey, now chancellor, to conclude a new alliance with France, soon expanded to include all the major European powers in a pledge of universal peace (1518). However, with the election of Ferdinand's grandson, already king of Spain, as Holy Roman Emperor Charles VCharles V,
1500–1558, Holy Roman emperor (1519–58) and, as Charles I, king of Spain (1516–56); son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, grandson of Ferdinand II of Aragón, Isabella of Castile, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and Mary of Burgundy.
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 in 1519, England's status as a secondary power was soon revealed. Henry joined Charles in war against France in 1522, but when Charles won a decisive victory over Francis at Pavia (1525), England was denied any of the spoils.

Henry and Wolsey tried to curb the alarming rise of imperial power by an unpopular alliance (1527) with France, which led to diplomatic and economic reprisals against England. Domestically, Henry had become less popular due to a series of new taxes aimed at providing revenue to bolster the depleted treasury. Despite the early advice of Sir Thomas MoreMore, Sir Thomas
(Saint Thomas More), 1478–1535, English statesman and author of Utopia, celebrated as a martyr in the Roman Catholic Church. He received a Latin education in the household of Cardinal Morton and at Oxford.
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, one of Henry's councillors, Wolsey had remained the country's top minister, and by 1527 Wolsey had been forced to accept much of the blame for England's failures.

Divorce and the Reformation

Henry, determined to provide a male heir to the throne, decided to divorce Katharine and marry Anne BoleynBoleyn, Anne
, 1507?–1536, second queen consort of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, later earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde, and on her mother's side she was related to the Howard family.
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. English diplomacy became a series of maneuvers to win the approval of Pope Clement VIIClement VII,
c.1475–1534, pope (1523–34), a Florentine named Giulio de' Medici; successor of Adrian VI. He was the nephew of Lorenzo de' Medici and was therefore first cousin of Pope Leo X.
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, who was in the power of emperor Charles V, Katharine's nephew. The king wished to invalidate the marriage on the grounds that the papal dispensation under which he and Katharine had been permitted to marry was illegal.

The pope reluctantly authorized a commission consisting of cardinals Wolsey and CampeggioCampeggio, Lorenzo
, 1472?–1539, Italian churchman and diplomat, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was well known as a jurist before turning to the service of the church (c.1510) upon the death of his wife. He was made bishop in 1512 and cardinal the following year.
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 to decide the issue in England. Katharine denied the jurisdiction of the court, and before a decision could be reached, Clement had the hearing adjourned (1529) to Rome. The failure of the commission, followed by a reconciliation between Charles and Francis I, led to the fall of Wolsey and to the initiation by Henry of an anti-ecclesiastical policy intended to force the pope's assent to the divorce.

Under the guidance of the king's new minister, Thomas CromwellCromwell, Thomas, earl of Essex,
1485?–1540, English statesman. While a young man he lived abroad as a soldier, accountant, and merchant, and on his return (c.1512) to England he engaged in the wool trade and eventually became a lawyer.
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, the anticlerical Parliament drew up (1532) the Supplication Against the Ordinaries, a long list of grievances against the church. In a document known as the Submission of the Clergy, the convocation of the English church accepted Henry's claim that all ecclesiastical legislation was subject to royal approval. Acts stopping the payment of annates to Rome and forbidding appeals to the pope followed. The pope still refused to give way on the divorce issue, but he did agree to the appointment (1533) of the king's nominee, Thomas CranmerCranmer, Thomas
, 1489–1556, English churchman under Henry VIII; archbishop of Canterbury. A lecturer at Jesus College, Cambridge, he is said to have come to the attention of the king in 1529 by suggesting that Henry might further his efforts to achieve a divorce from
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, as archbishop of Canterbury. Cranmer immediately pronounced Henry's marriage with Katharine invalid and crowned Anne (already secretly married to Henry) queen, and the pope excommunicated Henry.

In 1534 the breach with Rome was completed by the Act of Supremacy, which made the king head of the Church of England (see England, Church ofEngland, Church of,
the established church of England and the mother church of the Anglican Communion. Organization and Doctrine

The clergy of the church are of three ancient orders: deacons, priests, and bishops.
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). Any effective opposition was suppressed by the Act of Succession entailing the crown on Henry's heirs by Anne, by an extensive and severe Act of Treason, and by the strict administration of the oath of supremacy. A number of prominent churchmen and laymen, including former chancellor Sir Thomas More, were executed, thus changing Henry's legacy from one of enlightenment to one of bloody suppression. Under Cromwell's supervision, a visitation of the monasteries in 1535 led to an act of Parliament in 1536 by which smaller monasteries reverted to the crown, and the others were confiscated within the next few years. By distributing some of this property among the landed gentry, Henry acquired the loyalty of a large and influential group.

Later Years

In 1536, Anne Boleyn, who had given birth to Elizabeth (later Elizabeth IElizabeth I,
1533–1603, queen of England (1558–1603). Early Life

The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was declared illegitimate just before the execution of her mother in 1536, but in 1544 Parliament reestablished her in the succession after
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) but failed to have a male heir, was convicted of adultery and incest and beheaded. Soon afterward, Henry married Jane SeymourSeymour, Jane,
1509?–1537, third queen consort of Henry VIII of England. She served as a lady in waiting to both of Henry's first two queens, Katharine of Aragón and Anne Boleyn. Henry became interested in her c.
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, who in 1537 bore a son (later Edward VIEdward VI,
1537–53, king of England (1547–53), son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. Edward succeeded his father to the throne at the age of nine. Henry had made arrangements for a council of regents, but the council immediately appointed Edward's uncle, Edward
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) and died. Meanwhile in 1536–37 Henry had dealt brutally but effectively with rebellions in the north by subjects protesting economic hardships and the dissolution of the monasteries (see Pilgrimage of GracePilgrimage of Grace,
1536, rising of Roman Catholics in N England. It was a protest against the government's abolition of papal supremacy (1534) and confiscation (1536) of the smaller monastic properties, intensified by grievances against inclosures and high rents and taxes.
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). In 1536, Henry authorized the Ten Articles, which included some Protestant doctrinal points, and he approved (1537) publication of the Bible in English. However, the Six Articles passed by Parliament in 1539 reverted to the fundamental principles of Roman Catholic doctrine.

Another temporary peace (1538) between France and the empire seemed to pose the threat of Catholic intervention in England and helped Cromwell persuade the king to ally himself with the German Protestant princes by marrying (1540) Anne of ClevesAnne of Cleves
, 1515–57, fourth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. The sister of William, duke of Cleves, one of the most powerful of the German Protestant princes, she was considered a desirable match for Henry by those English councilors, most notably Thomas
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. However, Henry disliked Anne and divorced her almost immediately. Cromwell, now completely discredited, was beheaded. The king then married Catherine HowardHoward, Catherine,
1521?–1542, fifth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. She was the daughter of Lord Edmund Howard and the niece of the powerful Thomas Howard, 3d duke of Norfolk. Henry married her soon after his divorce from Anne of Cleves in 1540.
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, but in 1542 she met the fate of Anne Boleyn. He married his sixth wife, Catherine ParrParr, Catherine,
1512–48, sixth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. She was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr, an officeholder at the court, and had been twice widowed before Henry made her his wife in 1543.
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, in 1543.

In 1542 war had begun again with Scotland, still controlled through James VJames V,
1512–42, king of Scotland (1513–42), son and successor of James IV. His mother, Margaret Tudor, held the regency until her marriage in 1514 to Archibald Douglas, 6th earl of Angus, when she lost it to John Stuart, duke of Albany.
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 by French and Catholic interests. The fighting culminated in the rout of the Scots at Solway Moss and the death of James. Henry forced the Scots to agree to a treaty (1543) of marriage between Mary Queen of ScotsMary Queen of Scots
(Mary Stuart), 1542–87, only child of James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise. Through her grandmother Margaret Tudor, Mary had the strongest claim to the throne of England after the children of Henry VIII.
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 and his own son, Edward, but this was to come to nothing. In 1543, Henry once more joined Charles in war against France and was able to take Boulogne (1544). The expensive war dragged on until 1546, when Henry secured a payment of indemnity for the city. When he died in 1547 he was succeeded, as he had hoped, by a son, but it was his daughter Elizabeth IElizabeth I,
1533–1603, queen of England (1558–1603). Early Life

The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, she was declared illegitimate just before the execution of her mother in 1536, but in 1544 Parliament reestablished her in the succession after
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 who ruled over one of the greatest periods in England's history.

Character and Legacy

Henry was a supreme egotist. He advanced personal desires under the guise of public policy or moral right, forced his ministers to pay extreme penalties for his own mistakes, and summarily executed many with little excuse. In his later years he became grossly fat, paranoid, and unpredictable. Nonetheless he possessed considerable political insight, and he provided England with a visible and active national leader.

Although Henry seemed to dominate his Parliaments, the importance of that institution increased significantly during his reign. Other advances made during his reign were the institution of an effective navy and the beginnings of social and religious reform. The navy was organized for the first time as a permanent force. Wales was officially incorporated into England in 1536 with a great improvement in government administration there.

In 1521, Henry had been given the title "Defender of the Faith" by the pope for a treatise against Martin Luther, and he remained orthodox in his personal doctrinal views throughout his reign. However, the Six Articles were only fitfully enforced, the use of the English Bible was cautiously increased, seizure of church property continued, and the destruction of relics and shrines was begun. The way had been opened for Protestantism, and Henry presided over the dissolution of Irish monasteries and assumed (1541) the titles of king of Ireland and head of the Church of Ireland. At Henry's death, the council that he had appointed for the minority of Edward VI leaned toward the new doctrines.


See biographies by J. Bowle (1965), J. J. Scarisbrick (1968), C. Erickson (1984), and J. Ridley (1985); H. M. Smith, Henry VIII and the Reformation (1948); J. A. Kelly, The Matrimonial Trials of Henry VIII (1976); D. Starkey, The Reign of Henry VIII (1986); A. Weir, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991), The Children of Henry VIII (1996, repr. 2008), and Henry VIII: The King and His Court (2001); S. Doran and D. Starkey, ed., Henry VIII: Man and Monarch (2009); C. Fletcher, The Divorce of Henry VIII (2012).

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Henry VIII

inflated self-image parallels bloated body. [Br. Lit.: Henry VIII]
See: Conceit
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Henry VIII

1491--1547, king of England (1509--47); second son of Henry VII. The declaration that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid and his marriage to Anne Boleyn (1533) precipitated the Act of Supremacy, making Henry supreme head of the Church in England. Anne Boleyn was executed (1536) and Henry subsequently married Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. His reign is also noted for the fame of his succession of advisers, Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The name today may have changed to Britain but it still promotes English culture and domination over these islands much like Henry VIII envisaged centuries ago.
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SPECIAL gold coins worth more than pounds 1,000 apiece have been released by the Royal Mint to commemorate 500 years since Henry VIII took to the throne.