Henry VIII (1491-1547) was king of England from 1509 to 1547. As a consequence of the Pope's refusal to nullify his first marriage, Henry withdrew from the Roman Church and created the Church of England.
The second son of Henry VII, Henry VIII was born on June 28, 1491, at Greenwich Palace. He was a precocious student; he learned Latin, Spanish, French, and Italian and studied mathematics, music, and theology. He became an accomplished musician and played the lute, organ, and harpsichord. He composed hymns, ballads, and two Masses. He also liked to hunt, wrestle, and joust and drew "the bow with greater strength than any man in England."
On his father's death on April 21, 1509, Henry succeeded to a peaceful kingdom. He married Catherine of Aragon, widow of his brother Arthur, on June 11, and 13 days later they were crowned at Westminster Abbey. He enthused to his father-in-law, Ferdinand, that "the love he bears to Catherine is such, that if he were still free he would choose her in preference to all others."
In short order Henry set course on a pro-Spanish and anti-French policy. In 1511 he joined Spain, the papacy, and Venice in the Holy League, directed against France. He claimed the French crown and sent troops to aid the Spanish in 1512 and determined to invade France. The bulk of the preparatory work fell to Thomas Wolsey, the royal almoner, who became Henry's war minister. Despite the objections of councilors like Thomas Howard, the Earl of Surrey, Henry went ahead. He was rewarded by a smashing victory at Guinegate (Battle of the Spurs, Aug. 13, 1513) and the capture of Tournai and Théorouanne.
Peace was made in 1514 with the Scots, who had invaded England and been defeated at Flodden (Sept. 9, 1513), as well as with France. The marriage of Henry's sister Mary to Louis XII sealed the French treaty. This diplomatic revolution resulted from Henry's anger at the Hapsburg rejection of Mary, who was to have married Charles, the heir to both Ferdinand and Maximilian I, the Holy Roman emperor. Soon the new French king, Francis I, decisively defeated the Swiss at Marignano (Sept. 13-14, 1515). When Henry heard about Francis's victory, he burst into tears of rage. Increasingly, Wolsey handled state affairs; he became archbishop of York in 1514, chancellor and papal legate in 1515. Not even his genius, however, could win Henry the coveted crown of the Holy Roman Empire. With deep disappointment he saw it bestowed in 1519 on Charles, the Spanish king. During 1520 Henry met Emperor Charles V at Dover and Calais, and Francis at the Field of Cloth of Gold, near Calais, where Francis mortified Henry by throwing him in an impromptu wrestling match. In 1521 Henry joyfully received the papally bestowed title "Defender of the Faith" as a reward for writing the Assertion of the Seven Sacraments, a criticism of Lutheran doctrine. He tried to secure Wolsey's election as pope in 1523 but failed.
Catherine was 40 in 1525. Her seven pregnancies produced but one healthy child, Mary, born May 18, 1516. Despairing of having a legitimate male heir, Henry created Henry Fitzroy, his natural son by Elizabeth Blount, Duke of Richmond and Somerset. More and more, he conceived Catherine's misfortunes as a judgment from God. Did not Leviticus say that if a brother marry his brother's widow, it is an unclean thing and they shall be childless? Since Catherine was Arthur's widow, the matter was apparent.
The Reformation proceeded haphazardly from Henry's negotiations to nullify his marriage. Catherine would not retire to a nunnery, nor would Anne Boleyn consent to be Henry's mistress as had her sister Mary; she grimly demanded marriage. A court sitting in June 1529 under Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio heard the case. Pope Clement VII instructed Campeggio to delay. When the Peace of Cambrai was declared between Spain and France in August 1529, leaving Charles V, Catherine's nephew, still powerful in Italy, clement revoked the case to Rome. He dared not antagonize Charles, whose troops had sacked Rome in 1527 and briefly held him prisoner.
Henry removed Wolsey from office. Actually, Wolsey's diplomacy had been undermined by Henry's sending emissaries with different proposals to Clement. Catherine had a valid dispensation for her marriage to Henry from Pope Julius II; furthermore, she claimed that she came a virgin to Henry. She was a popular queen, deeply hurt by Henry's forsaking her bed in 1526. Henry's strategy matured when Thomas Cromwell became a privy councilor and his chief minister. Cromwell forced the clergy in convocation in 1531 to accept Henry's headship of the Church "as far as the law of Christ allows."
Anne's pregnancy in January 1533 brought matters to a head. In a fever of activity Henry married her on Jan. 25, 1533, secured papal approval to Thomas Cranmer's election as archbishop of Canterbury in March, had a court convened under Cranmer declare his marriage to Catherine invalid in May, and waited triumphantly for the birth of a son. His waiting was for naught. On Sept. 7, 1533, Elizabeth was born. Henry was so disappointed that he did not attend her christening. By the Act of Succession (1534) his issue by Anne was declared legitimate and his daughter Mary illegitimate. The Act of Supremacy (1534) required an oath affirming Henry's headship of the Church and, with other acts preventing appeals to Rome and cutting off the flow of annates and Peter's Pence, completed the break. Individual unwilling to subscribe to the Acts of Succession and Supremacy suffered, the two most notable victims being John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Thomas More (1535). Their executions led to the publication of the papal bull excommunicating Henry.
Although Henry allowed the publication of an English Bible (1538), the Henrician Reformation was basically conservative. Major liturgical and theological revisions came under his son, Edward VI. Henry's financial need, however, made him receptive to Cromwell's plan for monastic dissolutions via parliamentary acts in 1536 and 1539, in which the Crown became proprietor of the dissolved monasteries. The scale of monastic properties led to important social and economic consequences.
Anne's haughty demeanor and moody temperament suited Henry ill, and her failure to produce a male heir rankled. She miscarried of a baby boy on Jan. 27, 1536, 6 days after fainting at the news that Henry had been knocked unconscious in a jousting accident in which the king fell under his mailed horse. It was a costly miscarriage, for Henry was already interested in Jane Seymour. He determined on a second divorce. He brought charges of treason against Anne for alleged adultery and incest; she was executed on May 19. The following day Henry betrothed himself to Jane and married her 10 days later. Jane brought a measure of comfort to Henry's personal life; she also produced a son and heir, Edward, on Oct. 12, 1537, but survived his birth a scant 12 days.
Henry was deeply grieved, and he did not remarry for 3 years. He was not in good health. Headaches plagued him intermittently; they may have originated from a jousting accident of 1524, in which Charles Brandon's lance splintered on striking Henry's open helmet. Moreover his ulcerated leg, which first afflicted him in 1528, occasionally troubled. Both legs were infected in 1537. In May 1538 he had a clot blockage in his lungs which made him speechless, but he recovered.
The course of diplomatic events, particularly the fear that Charles V might attempt an invasion of England, led Henry to seek an alliance with Continental Protestant powers; hence, his marriage to the Protestant princess Anne of Cleves on Jan. 12, 1540. His realization that Charles did not intend to attack, coupled with his distaste for Anne, led to Cromwell's dismissal and execution in June 1540 and to the annulment of his marriage to Anne on July 9, 1540.
Cromwell's fall was engineered by the conservative leaders of his Council, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, and Bishop Gardiner. They thrust forward the 19-year-old niece of Norfolk, Catherine Howard, and Henry found her pleasing. He married Catherine within 3 weeks of his annulment and entered into the Indian summer of his life. He bore his by now tremendous girth lightly and was completely captivated, but his happiness was short-lived. Catherine's indiscretions as queen consort combined with her sexual misdemeanors as a protégé of the old dowager Duchess of Norfolk ensured her ruin. Inquiry into her behavior in October 1541 led to house arrest and her execution on Feb. 13, 1542, by means of a bill of attainder.
Henry's disillusionment with Catherine plus preoccupation with the Scottish war, begun in 1542, and plans for renewal of hostilities with France delayed remarriage. The French war commenced in 1543 and dragged on for 3 years, achieving a solitary triumph before Boulogne (1545). Henry married the twice-widowed Catherine Parr on July 12, 1543. Though she bore him no children, she made him happy. Her religious views were somewhat more radical than those of Henry, who had revised the conservative Six Articles (1539) with his own hand. During his last years he attempted to stem the radical religious impulses unleashed by the formal break with Rome.
No minister during Henry's last 7 years approached the power of Wolsey or Cromwell. Henry bitterly reflected that Cromwell was the most faithful servant that he had ever had. He ruled by dividing his Council into conservative and radical factions. When Norfolk's faction became too powerful, he imprisoned him and executed his son the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. The King was unwell in late 1546 and early 1547, suffering from a fever brought on by his ulcerated leg. Before he died on Jan. 28, 1547, Henry reflected that "the mercy of Christ [is] able to pardon me all my sins, though they were greater than they be."
Appearance and Assessment
A contemporary described Henry in his prime as "the handsomest potentate I have ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg; his complexion fair and bright, with auburn hair … and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman. … He is much handsomer than any other sovereign in Christendom; a great deal handsomer than the King of France." Henry was "a capital horseman, a fine jouster," and "very fond of hunting," tiring 8 or 10 horses in the course of a day's hunting. "He is extremely fond of tennis, at which game it is the prettiest thing in the world to see him play, his fair skin glowing through a shirt of the finest texture."
Henry came to the throne with great gifts and high hopes. Ministers like Wolsey and Cromwell freed him from the burdensome chores of government and made policy, but only with Henry's approval. His relentless search for an heir led him into an accidental reformation of the Church not entirely to his liking. Ironically, had he waited until Catherine of Aragon died in 1536, he would have been free to pursue a solution to the succession problem without recourse to a reformation. His desire to cut a figure on the European battlefields led him into costly wars. To pay the piper, it was necessary to debase the coinage, thus increasing inflationary pressures already stimulated by the influx of Spanish silver, and to use the tremendous revenues from the sale of monastic properties. Had the properties been kept in the royal hand, the revenue could have made the Crown self-sufficient—perhaps so self-sufficient that it could have achieved an absolutism comparable to that of Louis XIV.
Though personally interested in education, Henry sponsored no far-reaching educational statutes. However, his avid interest in naval matters resulted in a larger navy and a modernization of naval administration. He brought Wales more fully into union with the English by the Statute of Wales (1536) and made Ireland a kingdom (1542). Through the Statute of Uses (1536) he attempted to close off his subjects' attempts to deny him his feudal dues, but this was resisted and modified in 1540. The great innovations came out of the Reformation Statutes, not the least of which was the Act in Restraint of Appeals, in which England was declared an empire, and the Act of Supremacy, in which Henry became supreme head of the Anglican Church. The politically inspired Henrician Reformation became a religiously inspired one under his son, Edward VI, and thus Henry's reign became the first step in the forging of the Anglican Church.
Henry ruled ruthlessly in a ruthless age; he cut down the enemies of the Crown, like the Duke of Buckingham in 1521 and the Earl of Surrey. He stamped out the Pilgrimage of Grace (1536-1537), which issued from economic discontent, and set up a council in the north to ensure that there would be no more disorder. Though he had political gifts of a high order, he was neither Machiavelli's prince in action nor Bismarck's man of blood and iron. He was a king who wished to be succeeded by a son, and for this cause he bravely and rashly risked the anger of his fellow sovereigns. That he did what he did is a testament to his will, personal gifts, and good fortune.
A. F. Pollard, Henry VIII (1902; new ed. 1913), the traditional interpretation of Henry VIII, has been challenged in recent years by G. R. Elton, Henry VIII: An Essay in Revision (1962), and J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (1968). Scarisbrick, unlike Pollard, does not view Henry as England's savior. He believes that Henry created England's difficulties and censures him for his lack of social responsibility. He also provides a detailed analysis of the technical aspects of the divorce. Lacey Baldwin Smith, Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty (1971), concentrates on Henry's last years and brilliantly portrays his personal despotism and naked pride and power. Melvin J. Tucker, The Life of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, Second Duke of Norfolk, 1443-1524 (1964), gives a good case study of Henry's relationship to his aristocracy. Joycelyne G. Russell, The Field of Cloth of Gold (1969), supplies an interesting analysis of the pageantry that accompanied state affairs. Lacey Baldwin Smith, Tudor Prelates and Politics, 1536-1558 (1953), effectively deals with conciliar factions. A variety of studies deal with the historical background: J. W.
Allen, A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth Century (1928; 3d ed. 1951), ably handles political theory; S. T. Bindoff, Tudor England (1951), is a brilliantly written general survey and is good on economics; G. R. Elton, ed., The Tudor Constitution: Documents and Commentary (1960), unravels complicated constitutional matters; A. G. Dickens, The English Reformation (1964; rev. ed. 1967), deals incisively with the Henrician Reformation; and R. B. Wernham, Before the Armada: The Emergence of the English Nation, 1485-1588 (1966), is essential on Tudor foreign policy. □
"Henry VIII." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404702917.html
"Henry VIII." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404702917.html
1. The early years to c.1514Despite being only 17, Henry acted as king in his own right at once. Shortly after his accession he solemnized his fateful marriage to Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and widow of his brother Arthur. In these first years Henry reversed many of his father's more obnoxious policies: he relaxed control over the aristocracy and allowed revenue to decline through neglect. However, apart from sacrificing Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley, his father's two most detested apparitors, he made few changes among his leading advisers. He began to play the European game of military alliances almost at once: a disastrous campaign in the Pyrenees in 1512 was followed in 1513 by the more successful seizure of Tournai and Thérouanne and the earl of Surrey's demolition of the Scottish aristocracy at Flodden. Peace was made in 1514.
2. The ascendancy of Wolsey c.1514–c.1527The political scene was transformed by the arrival of a clergyman-academic turned administrator, Thomas Wolsey, who used his position as royal chaplain and almoner to build up a formidable collection of church and government posts, becoming lord chancellor in 1515 and papal cardinal-legate a latere in 1518. He and Henry communicated via their secretaries; Henry attended to business fitfully and occasionally intervened in details, but mostly left Wolsey to find the means to carry out the royal designs. With the accession of Francis I of France (1515–47) Henry found a rival whom he both disliked and imitated. For several years he manœuvred in the diplomatic game, until in 1518 he and Wolsey stage-managed the great European peace treaty of London (1518). The next year another charismatic leader, Charles V of Austria, Burgundy, and Spain, became Holy Roman emperor, and Henry began meddling in the endless duel between Charles and Francis. He attacked France in 1522–3, but withdrew from the alliance just too soon to profit from Francis's defeat and capture at Pavia (1525); in that year he renounced the imperial connection and began to court French support. Within England, the power-play plunged the crown deep into debt and forced highly unpopular increases in taxation, culminating in the taxpayers' strike against an illegal benevolence, the ‘Amicable Grant’, in 1525.
3. The marriage question, 1527–1532During the 1520s Henry's marriage to Catherine had deteriorated for reasons both personal and diplomatic. After bearing a princess (the future Mary I) in 1516, the queen had suffered a series of miscarriages and still-births which reawakened Henry's early misgivings about the marriage and raised the spectre of his dying without a male heir. When Charles V dropped his plan to marry Mary in 1525, the Aragonese-cum-Habsburg alliance lost its political rationale. By early 1527 an annulment of the marriage was openly discussed. However, in that year Charles V's troops sacked Rome and forced Pope Clement VII to seek protection from Charles V. While in the emperor's hands, the pope would not shame his captor's aunt by annulling her marriage and thereby freeing Henry, it was supposed, to marry a French princess. Wolsey tried unsuccessfully to persuade the pope to allow him to resolve the issue in England. When the final failure of this effort became apparent, Wolsey was stripped of his offices; after negotiating unofficially with foreign powers he only escaped treason charges by his own death (1530).
Henry was now adrift among rival groups of advisers: some, like Thomas More, urged him to abandon the divorce and take back the queen; others carefully nurtured in him the belief that papal authority was, in any case, an illegitimate usurpation and might be rejected unilaterally. Henry subjected the English bishops and clergy to costly ritual humiliations, ostensibly because their support for Wolsey's legatine status had infringed English law; this tactic may have paved the way for forcing them to oppose papal authority. By May 1532 the king seems to have chosen an anti-papal solution to the marriage crisis, and several of his leading pro-Aragonese advisers resigned.
4. The supremacy and the ‘Henrician Reformation’, 1533–1540The king's belief in his status as God's representative, supreme over all his subjects, now became a very potent political factor. It was exploited by a group of political theorists managed by the new rising minister, a former client of Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell (1485–1540). They devised an argument against papal authority which, unlike those advanced by the Lutherans in Germany, rested not on reformed theology but on a rewriting of the history of Anglo-papal relations. In the Act in Restraint of Appeals (24 Hen. VIII c. 12, 1533), the preamble enunciated Henry's claim to ‘imperial’ authority, without earthly superior, over clergy and laity alike; the text merely rejected appeals to Rome in matrimonial, testamentary, and other lawsuits. Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn in January 1533, and was formally separated from Catherine the following May. Having then been excommunicated by the pope, however, Henry's regime enacted further statutes up to 1536, which cut all fiscal, legal, and spiritual ties to Rome and left the English church in schism.
The English church having now broken with the papacy, the question of its doctrine could not be evaded. Henry had a queen, Anne Boleyn, an archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and a leading minister, Cromwell, all of whom were in varying degrees Lutheran sympathizers. Many others at court, however, were either zealous conservatives or, like one nobleman, boasted of never having read the Bible and never intending to. Henry's personal detestation of Luther, with whom he had exchanged polemics in the 1520s, and his horror of what he called ‘sacramentarian’ heresy made the two forms of emerging protestantism unacceptable, and left religious policy the plaything of factions. Nevertheless, enough innovations, both religious and fiscal, were introduced to enrage the population of the northern counties of England and bring about the complex of revolts known as the ‘Pilgrimage of Grace’ in autumn 1536. The regime survived these by biding its time and retaining the loyalty of the nobility and the south. Up to 1537 Henry accepted and endorsed cautious moves, disguised as ‘humanist’ purifications of religion, to abolish parts of the old cult. An official English Bible was authorized in 1538 and issued in 1539. However, the Act of Six Articles of 1539 marked a reaffirmation of certain traditional shibboleths and a hunt for ‘heretics’. Meanwhile, and without overt religious logic, the regime plundered the church, taxing the seculars heavily while abolishing the regular orders entirely and confiscating their wealth (1536–40).
Instability in official doctrine was matched by increasingly sanguinary feuds at court. In May 1536, after the birth of a daughter (the future Elizabeth I) and a miscarriage, the temperamental Anne Boleyn, with her brother and several of her attendants, were executed for alleged acts of treasonable adultery, which varied from the implausible to the impossible. By the end of the month the king had married Jane Seymour, who bore him his only son, the future Edward VI, on 12 October 1537 and died twelve days afterwards. Cromwell, having disposed of religious and political opponents of the supremacy, embarked on legal purges of those families he regarded as suspect or a threat, notably the Poles and Courtenays. Court rivalry and religious instability combined in the king's search for a fourth wife. Despite the reactionary strain then evident in religious policy, Henry was cajoled into a marriage-contract with Anne, sister of the duke of Cleves, a reforming sympathizer. Henry accepted her on the strength of a flattering portrait, and married her, with already too evident distaste, on 6 January 1540. Thomas Cromwell survived this disastrous marriage for a few months, but when he tried a pre-emptive strike against several conservatives, he was swiftly attainted of treason and executed.
5. The years of faction and failing powersHenry seems to have regretted the execution of Cromwell soon afterwards, and thereafter no minister wielded the same sort of authority. Government became more ‘conciliar’: the Privy Council, adumbrated as early as 1536 and filled with opponents of Cromwell, began to work more effectively as an executive cabinet from 1540. In his final years the king became more unpredictable and vulnerable. Catherine Howard, niece of the duke of Norfolk, whom Henry had married on the day of Cromwell's execution, proved unfaithful and indiscreet. Her fall and execution on 13 February 1542 left the king devastated. He threw himself once more into diplomacy and war. A successful campaign in 1542 by Lord Wharton in Scotland left Scotland's army broken and accelerated the death of its king: but Henry did not follow up the victory. Instead he made fresh overtures to Charles V and in June 1544 invaded France again, capturing Boulogne at huge cost shortly before Charles V made a separate peace with Francis I. A retaliatory attack by the French on the south coast in 1545 saw an embarrassing spectacle when the second largest ship in the fleet, the Mary Rose, sank spontaneously before the king's eyes; but a reasonable peace was made in 1546. In these final years Henry wavered between a campaign against ‘heresy’, which reached peaks in 1543 (when it threatened Cranmer) and 1546 (when it briefly threatened Henry's last queen, Catherine Parr), and periods when Henry allowed Cranmer to embark on cautious, partial reform of the so far barely altered old liturgy. In the dying months of the reign the reformers, led by the earl of Hertford (Somerset) and the Seymour family, secured the near-total defeat of the conservative Howards; the duke of Norfolk was awaiting execution when the king himself died on 28 January 1547. The education of the young Edward VI had been committed to reforming humanist tutors, so the old king's conservative legacy would not last into the new reign.
6. AssessmentFew kings of England set so consciously to glorify the style and splendour of the monarchy. Henry was the first to be addressed as ‘Majesty’ and the first defender of the faith and supreme head of the church. He presided over a spectacular court and built Nonsuch palace in Surrey in ‘the highest point of ostentation’. He had great athletic strength, a real talent for music, and an enthusiasm for theology (although his tendency to regard doctrines as unconnected building-blocks led to confusion and inconsistency). He enjoyed the windfall of the largely unchallenged plunder of the church and the service of talented and energetic ministers. In this light, the overwhelming impression is of advantages squandered. He came to the throne rich and bequeathed debts, a corrupt coinage, and roaring inflation; much of the newly acquired land was sold to the gentry and aristocracy by his death. Few monarchs before and none after were so ready to listen to, or to concoct, spurious charges of treason to get rid of unhelpful ministers or discarded wives. He showed little sign of that gift for managing the squabbles of courtier-politicians displayed by his daughter Elizabeth. His impact on the history of his time was colossal; yet nearly every part of his legacy was either disowned or significantly reinvented under his successors.
Scarisbrick, J. , Henry VIII (1968);
Smith, L. B. , Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty (1971);
Starkey, D. , The Reign of Henry VIII (1985).
JOHN CANNON. "Henry VIII." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-HenryVIII.html
JOHN CANNON. "Henry VIII." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-HenryVIII.html
Henry VIII (England) (1491–1547; Ruled 1509–1547)
HENRY VIII (ENGLAND) (1491–1547; ruled 1509–1547)
HENRY VIII (ENGLAND) (1491–1547; ruled 1509–1547), king of England. Henry VIII has a good claim to be regarded as England's most important monarch. It was he who initiated and pushed through the seminal event in the nation's history, the break with the church of Rome. Though historians have long debated the king's motivations and the depth of his control over the policy-making process, few would question his fundamental importance to the English Reformation; nor indeed that of the English Reformation to the subsequent historical development of England, Britain, and the British Empire.
Born at Greenwich Palace on 28 June 1491, the child of Henry VII (Henry Tudor; ruled 1485–1509) and Elizabeth of York, Henry was second in line to the throne. He became heir apparent after his elder brother, Arthur, died of consumption in 1502. On 22 April 1509 Henry's respected but unloved father died; the young prince ascended the throne amid popular rejoicing, the first uncontested succession in over half a century.
The new king quickly disposed of his father's chief ministers, Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley (both executed for constructive treason in 1510). Their place was taken by the brilliant and ostentatious commoner Thomas Wolsey (c. 1475–1530). Henry ruled through Wolsey, who became his lord chancellor, from 1514 to 1529, making him the principal influence on the formulation of royal policy and giving him authority over the day-to-day affairs of government. The main focus of policy during the first half of the reign was foreign affairs. The early years were taken up by war with France and Scotland (1511–1514). In France, Henry achieved his first success on the field of battle (the Battle of the Spurs, 1513); in the same year King James IV of Scotland (ruled 1488–1513) was defeated and killed at the head of an invading army at Flodden. Glorious though it might be, war was a drain on the nation's finances. Wolsey had a more realistic appreciation than his master of England's limited resources and inferior status to the Continent's leading powers; instead of war he pursued diplomacy as a cost-effective means of retaining the place of the king at the forefront of European relations, largely through acting as a peace broker in the conflicts between France, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. Henry tired of the passive role in the early 1520s, invading France once again in 1523. This invasion was an ignominious failure, ending in retreat and a severe depletion of the crown treasury; it would be the last such enterprise for almost two decades.
On 11 June 1509, Henry married Arthur's widow, Catherine of Aragón (1485–1536). The marriage failed to provide Henry with a male heir; only a girl born in 1516, the future Queen Mary, survived beyond infancy. For a long time a sequence of renewed pregnancies and the distractions of Wolsey's diplomatic schemes concealed the problem, but the unhappy cycle of miscarriages and still-born infants would not cease, aging Catherine prematurely and turning Henry increasingly suspicious of the marriage. Henry's concerns were not idle: as a child of the Wars of the Roses he was acutely aware of the danger to the stability of the nation that a contested succession could bring; and as the child of the founder of the Tudor dynasty he knew that posterity would compare him with his father principally by his success in perpetuating the line. A male heir would certainly have saved the marriage, but by the early 1520s it was clear that Catherine could become pregnant no more.
Around mid-decade the substantial concerns over the succession combined with two related developments: the king's infatuation with a clever and desirable lady of the court named Anne Boleyn (1507?–1536) and his discovery of two texts in the Book of Leviticus that cast doubt on the theological probity of a marriage to a dead brother's wife. Henry soon decided that his marriage to Catherine was cursed by God and must be annulled forthwith; he would then marry Anne Boleyn, who would provide him with a son. Had Catherine been English, the papal dissolution of the marriage would have been granted immediately. But Catherine was the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (ruled 1519–1556), whose army had recently sacked and occupied Rome (1527); under the circumstances the pope could not help the king.
THE BREAK WITH ROME
Yet the king would not be deflected. Wolsey, unable to advance the matter sufficiently and detested by Anne, was discarded and died on his way to a final reckoning with his master in 1529. The cardinal's place was taken by new men sympathetic to Anne's cause and, like the woman who would be queen herself, attracted to the incipient Protestant ideas that had emanated from Germany over the previous decade. Chief among them were Wolsey's erstwhile assistant Thomas Cromwell (1485?–1540), soon to replace his lord as the king's minister, and Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556), appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. These two worked with the king and his mistress on a radical solution to the great matter: if the pope would not dissolve the marriage and allow Henry to marry Anne, then the king would follow his chosen course independently of Rome. The king was determined that the process should have the appearance of legitimacy; thus it was that Parliament was called into service to provide the legal apparatus that permitted Henry to have his way.
The Parliament that sat from 1529 to 1536 is rightly known to history as the Reformation Parliament. Though it had no program at the outset for making the break with Rome and establishing an independent Church of England, that is what it did. A succession of legislative instruments deprived Rome of its authority over the English spiritual estate, redirected its finances and property to the crown, and established the king as the supreme head of the English Church. At the same time, Henry was provided with his divorce and married to Anne in 1533; a child followed the same year, though to Henry's chagrin it was a daughter (the future Queen Elizabeth) rather than the expected son. By the middle of the decade Henry might have wondered if it had all been necessary: early in 1536 Catherine died of natural causes, and later the same year Anne, transformed from the enchanting mistress of the early days to a shrew of a wife, was executed on trumped-up charges of adultery and witchcraft, almost certainly the result of a contest between court factions seeking to make the best out of the king's growing dislike for his second marriage.
But by now the soap opera–like succession of events had been overtaken by a much greater story. Though the king was and remained for the rest of his life conservative in his theological beliefs (with some idiosyncratic exceptions), the repudiation of the authority of Rome provided the opportunity for those of more reformist belief to make the newly established church one whose theology owed more to the emerging Protestant faith than to that of the Roman Church. During the 1530s Cromwell and Cranmer urged the king not to stop at assuming the supreme headship of the church and subsuming the institution into the state, but to appoint Protestants to key clerical positions, to issue the first officially sanctioned English Bible (published in 1539), and even to adopt a Protestant theological code for the church.
Yet the advances came at a price. Henry's innate conservatism asserted itself more strongly in the wake of Anne's execution, as he married the religiously conventional Jane Seymour (1509?–1537) and soon after faced a huge popular rebellion, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace, against the religious changes in the north of England. Though the rebellion was extinguished in 1537, Henry's concern at the pace of religious change became plain thereafter, and the momentum of reform slowed. Jane provided Henry with the much-desired son, the future Edward VI, in 1537, but she died days after giving birth.
As reform stagnated, Cromwell saw an opportunity to restore the initiative by pursuing the marriage of Henry to a German duchess with Protestant connections, Anne of Cleves (1515–1557). However, the plan backfired when the king set eyes on Anne for the first time just before the wedding in early 1540 and found her repulsive. Though the diplomatic situation was such that Henry had to go ahead with the marriage, Cromwell's position was fatally compromised: his enemies persuaded the king that he was disloyal, and he was executed in the summer of 1540.
The remainder of the reign saw few developments to match those of the 1530s, as the king put a stop to further doctrinal innovation and refocused his kingship on the pastime of his younger days, foreign policy. Henry ruled in the closing years without a minister, executing policy instead through a small body of elite advisors, the Privy Council. Foreign affairs were dominated by wars with Scotland and France. Scotland was invaded in 1542 and France in 1544; though both conflicts were concluded honorably (the Treaty of Greenwich with Scotland in 1543 and the Treaty of Ardres with France in 1546), there was little in the way of diplomatic compensation for the ruinous expenses incurred. All the while the king's marital adventures continued. In July 1540 Henry divorced Anne; less than three weeks later (on the same day as Cromwell's execution) he married Catherine Howard (1520?–1542). Accused of adultery, she was beheaded in 1542. Henry married Catherine Parr (1512–1548), his sixth and last wife, in 1543. The oldest of Henry's brides and previously married herself, she proved adept at managing the failing and increasingly irascible king in his dotage, not only to her own profit, but also to that of the Protestant cause, restraining the persecution of reformers and ensuring that the young prince Edward was educated by men of reformed views. King Henry VIII died on 28 January 1547, leaving behind him an independent English church, a son and regency council who would over the next five-and-a-half years put England on a course of radical religious reform, and a daughter in Elizabeth who would consolidate and defend the national church and associated national identity that her father had done so much to establish.
See also Church of England ; Cromwell, Thomas ; Divorce ; Edward VI (England) ; Elizabeth I (England) ; Julius II (pope) ; Mary I (England) ; More, Thomas ; Reformation, Protestant ; Tudor Dynasty (England).
Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, 1509–1547. Edited by J. S. Brewer, J. Gairdner, and R. H. Brodie. London, 1862–1910.
Elton, Geoffrey R. Reform and Reformation: England, 1509–1558. London, 1977.
Guy, John. Tudor England. Oxford, 1988.
MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Thomas Cranmer: A Life. New Haven, 1996.
McEntegart, Rory. Henry VIII, the League of Schmalkalden, and the English Reformation. Woodbridge, U.K., and Rochester, N.Y., 2002.
Scarisbrick, J. J. Henry VIII. London, 1968.
Starkey, David. The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics. London, 1985.
——. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII. London, 2003.
Weir, Alison. Henry VIII: The King and His Court. New York, 2001.
MCENTEGART, RORY. "Henry VIII (England) (1491–1547; Ruled 1509–1547)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.
MCENTEGART, RORY. "Henry VIII (England) (1491–1547; Ruled 1509–1547)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404900505.html
MCENTEGART, RORY. "Henry VIII (England) (1491–1547; Ruled 1509–1547)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404900505.html
Henry VIII (king of England)
Henry VIII, 1491–1547, king of England (1509–47), second son and successor of Henry VII.
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 Aragón. 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 League against France. The campaign, organized by Henry's talented minister Thomas (later cardinal) Wolsey, 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 Flodden over the invading Scottish forces under James IV.
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 V 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 More, 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 Boleyn. English diplomacy became a series of maneuvers to win the approval of Pope Clement VII, 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 Campeggio 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 Cromwell, 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 Cranmer, 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 of). 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.
In 1536, Anne Boleyn, who had given birth to Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) but failed to have a male heir, was convicted of adultery and incest and beheaded. Soon afterward, Henry married Jane Seymour, who in 1537 bore a son (later Edward VI) 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 Grace). 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 Cleves. However, Henry disliked Anne and divorced her almost immediately. Cromwell, now completely discredited, was beheaded. The king then married Catherine Howard, but in 1542 she met the fate of Anne Boleyn. He married his sixth wife, Catherine Parr, in 1543.
In 1542 war had begun again with Scotland, still controlled through James V 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 Scots 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 I 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).
"Henry VIII (king of England)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Henry8Eng.html
"Henry VIII (king of England)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Henry8Eng.html
Born: June 28, 1491
Died: January 28, 1547
King of England
Henry VIII was king of England from 1509 to 1547. He established the Church of England and strengthened the position of king. But much of Henry VIII's legacy lies in his string of marriages during a quest for a son who would one day take his throne.
From boy to king
The second son of Henry VII (1457–1509), Henry VIII was born on June 28, 1491, at England's Greenwich Palace. As a child he studied Latin, Spanish, French, and Italian. He also studied mathematics, music, and theology (study of religion). Henry became an accomplished musician and played the lute, the organ, and the harpsichord. He also liked to hunt, wrestle, and joust (to fight on horseback). He also mastered the craft of archery.
Upon his father's death on April 21, 1509, Henry succeeded to a peaceful kingdom. He married Catherine of Aragon (1485–1536), widow of his brother Arthur, on June 11. Thirteen days later they were crowned at Westminster Abbey.
As king of England, Henry moved quickly on a pro-Spanish and anti-French policy. In 1511, together with Spain, Pope Julius II, and others, Henry formed an alliance called the Holy League, in an attempt to drive French king Louis XII out of Italy. Henry claimed the French crown and sent troops to invade France. The bulk of the work in preparing for the invasion fell to Thomas Wolsey (c.1475–1530), who became Henry's trusted war minister. Henry's army won a great victory in France at Guinegate, and the capture of Tournai and Théorouanne.
Peace was made in 1514 with France as well as with the Scots, who invaded England and were defeated at Flodden (September 9, 1513). The marriage of Henry's sister, Mary, to Louis XII (1462–1515) sealed the French treaty. The marriage would secure a worthy alliance (partnership), but Henry longed for greater power. But not even the work of Wolsey, however, could win Henry the precious crown of the Holy Roman Empire. With deep disappointment he saw it bestowed in 1519 on Charles, the Spanish king. He tried to secure Wolsey's election as pope in 1523 but failed.
The search for a son
In 1525 Catherine turned forty, fairly old for someone in the sixteenth century. Her seven pregnancies produced only one healthy child, Mary, born May 18, 1516. Afraid of not having a legitimate (legal) male heir, Henry believed Catherine's inability to give birth to a boy was a judgment from God. Soon, Henry began an affair with Anne Boleyn (c.1507–1536), a servant to Catherine.
A period of great social improvements known as the Reformation (1500s religious movement that affected the society, politics, and the economy) was stalled by Henry's negotiations to nullify (to make void) his marriage. While Catherine would not retire to a nunnery, Anne Boleyn demanded marriage—and the throne. A court sitting in June 1529 heard the case to nullify the marriage. It didn't work. He tried to secure Wolsey's election as pope in 1523 in hopes of using the papacy (office of the pope) to nullify his marriage. This too failed and Henry removed Wolsey from office in 1927.
Henry's strategy to rid himself of his wife matured when Thomas Cromwell (c. 1455–1540) became a councilor and his chief minister. Cromwell forced the clergy (Church officials) to meet in 1531 and accept Henry's headship of the Church. This position would allow Henry to finally annul his marriage. Anne's pregnancy in January 1533 brought matters to a head. In a fever of activity Henry married her on January 25, 1533; secured papal approval in March; had a court declare his marriage to Catherine invalid in May; and waited for the birth of a son. On September 7, 1533, Elizabeth was born. Henry was so disappointed that he did not attend her christening.
A third marriage
Anne's attitude and moody temperament did not suit Henry, and her failure to produce a male heir worsened their relationship. She miscarried (a premature birth which results in the baby's death) a baby boy on January 27, 1536. It was a costly miscarriage, for Henry was already interested in another woman, Jane Seymour. Now determined on a second divorce, Henry brought charges of treason (high crimes against one's country) against Anne for alleged adultery (having affairs outside the marriage). Henry had her executed on May 19 and married Jane ten days later.
Jane brought a measure of comfort to Henry's personal life. She also produced a son and heir, Edward, on October 12, 1537. But Jane died twelve days later. Henry was deeply grieved, and he did not remarry for three years. He was not in good health and suffered from headaches, a painful leg problem, and blockage in his lungs which made him temporarily speechless.
War and marriage
The course of diplomatic (political) events, particularly the fear that Spanish king Charles V (1500–1548) might attempt an invasion of England, led Henry to seek an alliance with the Protestant powers of Europe. To solidify this alliance, Henry married the Protestant princess Anne of Cleves on January 12, 1540. His realization that Charles did not intend to attack, coupled with his distaste for Anne, led to the annulment of his marriage to Anne on July 9, 1540.
Henry was soon introduced to the nineteen-year-old Catherine Howard. He married Catherine within three weeks of his annulment to Anne of Cleves and entered into the later years of his life. In 1542, Catherine was beheaded on charges of adultery. The same year, the Scottish war began as did plans for renewed hostilities with France. War with France began in 1543 and dragged on for three years, achieving a solitary triumph before Boulogne (1545).
Henry then married the twice-widowed Catherine Parr on July 12, 1543. Though she bore him no children, she made him happy. Her religious views were somewhat more radical than those of Henry, who had revised the conservative Six Articles (1539) with his own hand. During his last years he attempted to slow the radical religious tendencies which resulted from the formal break with Rome.
The king was unwell in late 1546 and early 1547, suffering from terrible fevers. Before he died on January 28, 1547, Henry reflected that "the mercy of Christ [is] able to pardon me all my sins, though they were greater than they be."
The legacy of Henry VIII
Henry came to the throne with great gifts and high hopes. His relentless search for an heir led him into an accidental reformation of the Church not entirely to his liking. His desire to cut a figure on the European battlefields led him into costly wars.
Though personally interested in education, Henry sponsored no far-reaching educational policies. However, his interest in naval matters resulted in a larger navy and a well-developed naval administration. He brought Wales more fully into union with the English by the Statute of Wales (1536) and made Ireland a kingdom (1542). The great innovations came out of the Reformation Statutes, not the least of which was the Act in Restraint of Appeals, in which England was declared an empire, and the Act of Supremacy, in which Henry became supreme head of the Anglican Church.
Henry ruled ruthlessly in a ruthless age. He was a king who wished to be succeeded by a son, and for this cause he bravely and rashly risked the anger of the other rulers in Europe. That he did what he did is a testament to his will, personal gifts, and good fortune.
For More Information
Lacey, Robert. The Life and Times of Henry VIII. New York: Praeger, 1974.
Scarisbrick, J. J. Henry VIII. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968.
Smith, Lacey Baldwin. Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.
Weir, Alison. Henry VIII: The King and His Court. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
Weir, Alison. The Six Wives of Henry VIII. London: Bodley Head, 1991.
"Henry VIII." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437500373.html
"Henry VIII." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2003. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3437500373.html
Henry VIII (1491–1547)
Henry VIII (1491–1547)
Tudor dynasty king of England from 1509 until his death, best known for his defiance of the Catholic pope in the matter of his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his establishment of the Church of England. Born in a royal palace in Greenwich, he was the son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and became heir apparent on the death of his elder brother Arthur in 1502.
Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand II of Aragon, was arranged by his father in order to make a useful alliance with the kingdom of Spain, recently united by the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile. The younger Henry, although opposed to the marriage, went through with it after the death of his father and just before his own coronation as the king of England.
A patron of the arts, and himself a competent musician and poet, Henry invited scholars, musicians, and humanists to his court. He ambitiously sought a place for England in the political affairs and wars of the European continent, and to this end joined the Holy League with Spain and Venice against France in 1512. He contested control of Italy with Francis I, who became king of France in 1515; after Francis was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525, Henry joined the League of Cognac with Pope Clement VII to prevent Emperor Charles V from dominating the Italian peninsula.
Early in his reign Henry was a staunch Catholic, and through his writings against the teachings of Protestant reformer Martin Luther earned the honorary title of Defender of the Faith. But when it became apparent that Catherine of Aragon would not provide him with a male heir, Henry petitioned Clement for a dissolution of his marriage, which Clement adamantly refused to grant. On the suggestion of his adviser Thomas Cromwell, Henry declared an end to the supremacy of the pope and the establishment of an English church with himself as its leader. His break with the church was sealed by his secret marriage to Anne Boleyn in 1533.
When the pope excommunicated the king for this act, the English parliament passed measures to ban appeals from English religious courts to the pope, to force the English clergy to elect bishops that Henry nominated and, by the Act of Supremacy, to recognize Henry as the supreme head of the Church of England. English citizens had to acknowledge this Act by swearing an oath; punishment for defiance was imprisonment or execution; a measure that was taken against Henry's own Lord Chancellor and trusted adviser Sir Thomas More. Uprisings against the new church were put down without mercy; Catholic shrines were destroyed, and the property of the church was seized by the crown and redistributed to loyal ministers, nobles, and courtiers.
Anne Boleyn, mother of the future Elizabeth I, was unable to produce a male heir; for this Henry blithely arranged charges of witchcraft, incest, and adultery against her, for which she was executed. Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, gave birth to Prince Edward in 1537 but died shortly afterward. A marriage to a German princess, Anne of Cleves, ended swiftly in divorce, after which Henry married Catherine Howard. This fifth wife was executed in 1542; Henry's sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, survived him.
Henry's reign saw an important transformation in England to Protestantism, an event that would have violent repercussions in the kingdom for the next century. He annexed Wales, defeated the rebellious Scots at the Battle of Solway Moss, and captured the port of Boulogne from the French, who regained the city through the payment of a ransom. The more prominent role of England in the affairs of Europe would be affirmed by political and military victories achieved by Henry's daughter Elizabeth in the last half of the sixteenth century.
See Also: Boleyn, Anne; Cromwell, Thomas; Elizabeth I; More, Sir Thomas; Tudor dynasty
"Henry VIII (1491–1547)." The Renaissance. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3205500162.html
"Henry VIII (1491–1547)." The Renaissance. 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3205500162.html
"Henry VIII." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-HenryVIII.html
"Henry VIII." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-HenryVIII.html
MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Henry VIII." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-HenryVIII.html
MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Henry VIII." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-HenryVIII.html
MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Henry VIII." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-HenryVIII1.html
MICHAEL KENNEDY and JOYCE BOURNE. "Henry VIII." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. 1996. Retrieved May 24, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O76-HenryVIII1.html