- NAME: Henry VIII
- OCCUPATION: Political Leader, King
- BIRTH DATE: June 28, 1491
- DEATH DATE: January 28, 1547
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Greenwich, London, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: London, England, United Kingdom
- Originally: Henry Tudor
- AKA: King Henry VIII
- AKA: Henry VIII
- AKA: Henry VIII of England
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Henry VIII, king of England, was famously married six times and played a critical role in the English Reformation, turning his country into a Protestant nation.
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Henry Tudor, son of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth York, was born at the royal residence, Greenwich Palace, on June 28, 1491. Following the death of his brother, Arthur, he became Henry VIII, king of England. He married six times, beheaded two of his wives and was the main instigator of the English Reformation. His only surviving son, Edward VI, succeeded him after his death on January 28, 1547.
"I beseech you now with all my heart definitely to let me know your whole mind as to the love between us; for necessity compels me to plague you for a reply, having been for more than a year now struck by the dart of love, and being uncertain either of failure or of finding a place in your heart and affection."
[Excerpt from a letter to Anne Boleyn during their courtship.]
Henry Tudor, the son of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth York, was born on June 28, 1491, at the royal residence, Greenwich Palace, in Greenwich, London, England. He had six siblings, but only three survived: Arthur, Margaret and Mary. Arthur, being older than Henry, was expected to take the throne. In 1502, Prince Arthur married Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the Spanish king and queen, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. After less than four months of marriage, Arthur died at the age of 15, leaving his 10-year-old brother, Henry, to assume the throne.
The patriarch, Henry VII, wanted to affirm his family's alliance with Spain, so he offered his young son Henry to Arthur's widow. The two families requested that Pope Julius II officially grant dispensation to Arthur and Catherine's marriage. The pope conceded, but the official marriage of Henry and Catherine was postponed until the death of Henry VII in 1509, when, at the age of 17, Henry married Catherine and the two were crowned at Westminster Abbey. The couple remained married until he divorced her in 1533.
As a young man and monarch, second in the Tudor Dynasty, Henry VIII exuded a charismatic athleticism and diverse appetite for art, music and culture. He was witty and highly educated, taught by private tutors for his entire upbringing. He loved music and wrote some as well. A lover of gambling and jousting, he hosted countless tournaments and banquets. His father always envisioned Arthur as king and Henry as a high-ranking church official—the appropriate role at that time for his secondary birth order. As fate would have it, Henry instead inherited an entire peaceful nation after his father ended the Wars of the Roses.
Henry was good-natured, but his court soon learned to bow to his every wish. Two days after his coronation, he arrested two of his father's ministers and promptly executed them. He began his rule seeking advisers on most matters, and would end it with absolute control.
On February 18, 1516, Queen Catherine bore Henry his first child to survive infancy, Princess Mary. Henry grew frustrated by the lack of a male child and began keeping two mistresses at his beckon. His philandering ways were tame by the standards of his contemporaries, but they nonetheless resulted in his first divorce. One of his mistresses, Mary Boleyn, introduced him to her sister, Anne Boleyn. Anne and Henry began secretly seeing one another. Catherine, by now 42 and unable to conceive, set Henry in a tizzy. Henry configured a way to officially abandon his marriage with Catherine.
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