Henry (Tudor) of England
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Henry (Tudor) of England (1491 - 1547)

Henry "Henry VIII King of England" of England formerly Tudor
Born in Greenwich, Kent, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 11 Jun 1509 (to 23 May 1533) in Grey Friars Church, Greenwich, Kent, Englandmap
Husband of — married 25 Jan 1533 (to 17 May 1536) in Whitehall, London, Englandmap
Husband of — married 30 May 1536 (to 24 Oct 1537) in Palace of Whitehall, Whitehall, Londonmap
Husband of — married 6 Jan 1540 (to 9 Jul 1540) in Palace of Placentia, Greenwich, London, Englandmap
Husband of — married 28 Jul 1540 (to 13 Feb 1542) in Oatlands Palace, Surreymap
Husband of — married 12 Jul 1543 (to 28 Jan 1547) in Hampton Court Palace, Kingston-upon-Thames, Londonmap
Died in Westminster, Middlesex, Englandmap
Profile last modified | Created 14 Nov 2008 | Last significant change: 12 May 2021
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Preceded by
Henry VII
King of England
22 Apr 1509 - 28 Jan 1547
Succeeded by
Edward VI

Contents

Biography

The House of Tudor crest.
Henry (Tudor) of England is a member of the House of Tudor.

Henry was born on Tuesday, 28 June 1491 at Greenwich Palace in Kent, England, where his father had spared no expense making this Palace magnificent. He was the third child and second son of Henry VII, the first Tudor King of England, and his Queen Elizabeth of York. He was baptized, at the Greenwich Parish Church by the Bishop of Exeter, Lord Privy Seal. [1][2]

Very little is known about his early life. He was the second son behind his elder brother and heir to the English throne Arthur; most of what is known is the titles and honours which were granted to him. [3]

Early Life

He received his first office on 5 April 1493, when he was granted the office of Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.[4] He then became lieutenant of Ireland on 12 September 1494, with Sir Edward Poynings serving as his deputy. On 31 October of the same year, his father entered the Parliament Chamber wearing full regalia in order to hear Henry proclaimed as the Duke of York. In December, Henry was appointed as Lord Warden General of the Western Marches[5] and he was installed as a Knight of the Garter on 17 May 1495.[6]

Catherine of Aragon

Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was born on 16 December 1485 as the daughter of Isabella de Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon.[7] Her mother spent most of her pregnancy on a campaign against the Moors, only withdrawing from the front following the capture of Ronda.[7] Catherine was named after Isabella’s English grandmother, a daughter of John of Gaunt. Henry, also, was a descendant of John’s,[8] making Catherine and Henry third cousins once removed.

Catherine of Aragon.

Catherine, at age three, was in Medina del Campo in the spring of 1489 and bore witness to a bullfight. During this time, an Embassy arrived from England in order to negotiate an alliance treaty between England and Spain, a treaty which was to be sealed with Catherine's marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales.[7] [9] Arthur and Catherine were first married by proxy on 19 May 1499, as Catherine was still being kept in Spain.[10][7] [11] She ordered De Pueblo to perform the marriage by proxy for her again, in Grenada on 20 Dec 1500 to Arthur Prince of Wales.[10]

After several difficulties, Catherine arrived in Plymouth on 2 October 1501. On 14 November 1501, Henry took part in the marriage ceremonies of his brother Arthur to his bride. He was the head of the procession which led Catherine from Baynard’s Castle to St Paul’s Cathedral in London, he then led her out of the cathedral after the wedding.[12] [3]

Death of the Heir

In 1502, four months after Arthur and Catherine had arrived at Ludlow Castle, Arthur died of an illness.[13] This transformed Henry’s position completely, transforming him from “the spare” to the heir apparent of the English throne.[3] Henry succeeded Arthur to the Dukedom in the October of 1502. He became the heir apparent, and a Bill was enacted that transferred the traditional endowment of the Prince of Wales to Henry. On the same day, he surrendered his previous endowment as the Duke of York on 23 February 1503/4.[14][15]

In order to maintain the Anglo-Spanish alliance which had been sealed with Arthur's marriage to Catherine, a new marriage was proposed between Henry and his brother's widow.[16] However, it went against Canon Law for a man to marry his brother's widow and, a marriage was considered valid once it had been consummated.[17][18] However, Catherine insisted that her marriage to Arthur had not been consummated and thus was considered invalid, allowing Henry and Catherine to marry following a papal dispensation from Rome.[19]

On 11 June, Henry and Catherine were married in the Church of the Observant Friars outside of Greenwich Palace, and eight days later Henry arrived from Greenwich at the Tower of London in preparation for his inauguration.[3] The day prior, Henry was accompanied by his queen as they made their way through Westminster, traveling along streets “hung with tapestries and cloths of gold. He himself was bejeweled with an extravaganza of diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones.[3]

A New King

On 21 April 1509, Henry’s father died at Richmond Palace following a severe illness, leaving Henry to ascend to the throne.[3]

The following day, on 24 June, Henry and Catherine paraded from the palace to Westminster Abbey and it was here, before the realm, that Henry was anointed and crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury—no longer was he Prince Henry, Duke of York, but he was now King Henry VIII of England.[3]

Succeeding the ceremony a banquet was held at Westminster Hall, opening with a procession of the dishes led by the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Steward. A tournament which lasted until nightfall was also held on the same day.[3]

Execution of Dudley and Empson

Edmund Dudley and Sir Thomas Empson had served Henry’s father as financial agents, who extorted money from wealthy landowners while claiming that the money was only being obtained for their King.[20] On the same day that Henry was crowned King he had several men arrested, including Empson and Dudley. Shortly afterward, Empson was brought before the King’s Council and charged with illegal extortion. He argued that he had been acting on his King’s orders and that what he had done could be justified by ancient laws, however a new accusation was then made against him and Dudley: when they had discovered that Henry VII was dying, they had approached their friends and asked them for support if they found their position threatened.[20] This could be seen as planning rebellion—an act of high treason against their new King. In July, Dudley was indicted for high treason in London while Empson was sent to his native county to be tried on the same charge at Northampton in October. Both of them were found guilty and subsequently sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, though this sentence was not carried out for almost a year; prior to the execution, Henry commuted their sentence to death by beheading.[20] Dudley and Empson were finally beheaded on Tower Hill on 18 August 1510.[21]

Struggles for Heirs

Within a few weeks of their marriage, Catherine fell pregnant, but she gave birth to a stillborn daughter in May 1510.[22] On 1 January the following year Catherine gave birth to a boy, who was christened, Henry.[23] His godparents were King Louis XII of France and Archduchess Margaret. However, he passed away at just seven weeks old, much to Henry and Catherine's heartbreak.[7] [24]

Conflicts with France

The Holy League was an anti-French league organized by Pope Julius II, directed against King Louis XII. Following a pact between Henry and Catherine’s father Ferdinand, Henry followed Ferdinand’s lead and joined the new League; the coalition also contained Venice and the Swiss alongside Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.[25] Sometime in early 1512, Julius stripped Louis of the title of "Most Christian King of France", and conferred the title to Henry. Julius also invested Henry and his heirs with the "name, glory and authority" of the King of France "for as long as they shall remain in faith, devotion and obedience to the Holy Roman Church and Apostolic See."[3] This also promised Henry coronation as King of France, though this would only come into effect following Louis’ defeat.[26] [27] [28] [29] [30]

On 30 June 1513, Henry led his troops in an invasion of France, first landing at Calais before making his way to Thérouanne, where the Battle of Guinegate took place between Henry and Emperor Maximilian I, and French cavalry led by Jacques de la Palice. The battle was a success for Henry, and following the fall of Thérouanne Henry besieged and took Tournai.[3] [31] [32]

Following the ascension of Leo X, who favored peace negotiations with France in comparison to his predecessor Julius, Henry signed a treaty with France, which included his sister Mary being betrothed to Louis.[33][34]

Battle of Flodden

When Henry left Dover for France earlier in the year, he proclaimed that Catherine was to act as governor of the realm and captain-general of the forces in his absence and given her a handful of councilors to help her to manage the kingdom.[3][35] On 11 August, a Scottish herald reached Henry at Thérouanne to inform him of his King’s defiance of the English. [35] Julius warned King James IV that he and his kingdom would be anathematised ‘’(condemned)’’ if he attacked England while her king was fighting a holy war, however, James still crossed the Tweed with a large army behind him. [31]

On 9 September, the Scottish met the English (who were being led by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and who were being overseen by Queen Catherine) at Flodden, a battle which the English won after about three hours of fighting. Most of the Scottish aristocracy—twelve earls, the archbishop of St Andrews, two bishops, two abbots, and King James himself—were all killed, handing the Scottish a devastating defeat.[3] [31]

A Clean Slate

Following the deaths of Ferdinand (in 1516) and Maximilian (in 1519), Charles V ascended to the thrones of both Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.[36] Likewise, upon Louis’ death in 1515 Francis I became King of France, giving the rulers the opportunity for a clean slate. Peace was briefly achieved by the signing of the Treaty of London in 1518,[37] and in June 1520 Henry met with Francis at the Field of the Cloth of Gold for a fortnight of celebration.[38][39]

In 1521, Charles took the Empire to war with France. Henry initially offered to mediate; however, he eventually aligned himself and England with Charles. He still wished to regain English lands in France and also sought to ally himself with Burgundy.[40] At the Battle of Pavia in 1525, Charles defeated and captured Francis and dictated peace,[41] but he did not believe that he owed Henry anything, which caused Henry to remove England from the war by signing the Treaty of the More in August of that year.[42]

The King’s Great Matter

Henry sought an affair with his wife’s lady-in-waiting Mary Boleyn during their marriage.[43] In 1525, he became intrigued by Mary’s sister Anne[3] as his impatience with Catherine’s inability to produce a son grew. It was this interest that led to the separation of the Anglican and Catholic churches, giving rise to the English Reformation and Protestantism.[43]

As time passed and Catherine continually found herself unable to produce a male heir, Henry began to believe that his marriage was not accepted in the eyes of God, due to Catherine’s previous marriage to his brother—which had meant that a papal dispensation was required prior to Catherine’s marriage to Henry—and that his best option if he wished to produce a male heir was to be granted an annulment.[44] However, this went against Canon law. He formed a case for annulment and petitioned Pope Clement VII, who refused.[45] One issue which arose was whether Catherine and Arthur had consummated their marriage against what she had claimed prior to her marriage to her current husband; Henry and his supporters said that she had, while Catherine maintained her claim that she had been a virgin when she had married the King.[44]

Soon after the Pope refused to annul his marriage, Henry came to the view that his marriage was void according to God’s law and married Anne Boleyn in secret.[7] Henry wished for Catherine to be referred to as the "old widow princess".[46] Before long, the breach between Henry and the Pope was finalized and Henry became the head of the Anglican church. On 17 May 1553, the Catholic Church annulled the marriage between Henry and Katherine. [44][47]

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was born the daughter of Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard, at the family home in Blicking, Norfolk. She was well educated, in subjects such as arithmetic, history, literacy, and languages.[48]

Anne Boleyn.

Henry and Anne first married in secret on 25 January 1533 [7][49][50] before she fell pregnant with Henry’s child.[36] On 7 September 1533, Anne went into labour while staying at the Palace of Placentia and gave birth to her child. Unfortunately for Henry, however, it was a girl.[51]

Named Elizabeth, for the mothers of both Anne and Henry, Elizabeth bore her father’s red hair and her mother’s features, though this did not make up for the fact that she was not male.[52] Both Henry and Anne were disappointed, though Henry assured his wife that there was still time for them to conceive a male heir.[53]

It was several years later, years marred by marital unrest, that Henry fell badly from his horse on 21 January 1536.[3] Anne, who had been pregnant at the time, was so shocked by the news that she miscarried. Not a week later she delivered her stillborn child, who was probably a boy.[3]

In April of that year, charges of adultery with several courtiers were brought against her, and according to many, this constituted treason. On 2 May, Anne was hysterical as she was taken to the Tower. Anne was beheaded within the gates of the Tower on 19 May 1536.[3][54][55]

Jane Seymour

The day after Anne’s execution Henry was engaged to one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, and they married quietly at York Palace on 30 May.[3][55]

Jane Seymour.

In June of 1536, the Second Succession Act was passed by Parliament. It was a piece of legislation which followed Anne’s conviction and declared both of his legitimate children—Mary, his daughter by Catherine, and Elizabeth, his daughter by Anne—as illegitimate, stripping them of their place in the line of succession in favour of any further children that he might have.[56][57]

An Heir at Last

On 12 October the following year, Jane gave birth to a son, the future Edward VI,[58] however, the birth was difficult and the queen died almost two weeks later on 24 October from an infection.[59][60] She was buried at Windsor on 12 November.[61]

Anne of Cleves

William, Duke of Cleves, ruled a powerful agglomeration of territories in northern Germany, and provided a political secure alliance for Henry. Anne, the Duke of Cleves sister, would supply a secure link, and so Henry and Anne were quickly married.[62]

Anne of Cleves.


Negotiations to arrange the marriage had begun by March of 1539. The King and the Duke spent several months in negotiation on the terms of what the marriage alignment would provide to both their countries. [63] By October the final negotiations had been agreed upon, and the plans for the marriage would proceed. On 4 Oct 1539, the marriage contract was signed.[62][64]

Though upon their meeting Henry discovered that she was not as attractive as he had been made to believe and sought an annulment. As their marriage had not been consummated, and she had previously been betrothed to the Duke of Lorraine’s son, the marriage was dissolved on 9 July 1540.[65][66]

Cromwell’s Fall From Grace

The man who had helped to arrange Henry’s marriage to Anne was Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell served as Henry’s chief minister for eight years, and he had helped to engineer Henry’s annulment from Catherine in order for him to marry Anne Boleyn. However, following Henry’s disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves, Cromwell fell out of favour with the King. Though he was never formally accused of being responsible for Henry’s failed marriage to Anne, he was charged with treason, selling export licenses, granting passports, and drawing up commissions without permission.[67] He was subsequently attainted and beheaded on the 29 July of 1540.[3][68]

Catherine Howard.

Catherine Howard

Catherine Howard was the first cousin of Anne Boleyn. She became a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves and quickly took Henry’s fancy while he was searching for a way out of his marriage to Anne of Cleves.[36] He and Catherine married quietly on the same day that Cromwell was executed—28 July—and it was clear that Henry was enraptured with his new wife.[3] However, soon after the marriage Catherine had an affair with Thomas Culpepper and employed Francis Dereham as her secretary; a man she had previously been informally engaged to. Catherine was accused of adultery and subsequently beheaded on 13 February 1542.[3][69][70]

Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr.

On 12 July 1543, Henry married who would be his final wife, Catherine Parr.[71] She was an agreeable woman, who was a remarkable figure within the royal household; she reorganized and directed the royal nursery, which played an important role in the education of royal and noble children.[3]

Death

On 28 January 1547, the 55-year-old King Henry VIII died at Whitehall Palace in Middlesex. His death was kept quiet for three days while the King’s Council discussed the accession of his son by Jane Seymour, Prince Edward, who was to become King Edward VI.[72][73][74]



Notes

  • In 1752 the calendar in England changed from old style to new style. Previous to 1752 the new year began on March 25th in 1752 it was changed and began January 1st. Dates prior to 1752 occurring between January 1st and March 24th will be recorded as dual years to reflect the change.

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  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 Scarisbrick, J. J. 'Henry VIII.' London : Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1968. Henry VIII
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Letters and Papers

Volumes of letters and papers from Henry’s reign are available for viewing online; free locations include British History Online and Internet Archive.



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