Essay, Research Paper
King Henry VIII, second son of Henry VII, was the most formidable and famous king who ever reigned in England. Because he wanted a male heir, he married six different times throughout his reign. He married for both political and formal reasons.
Henry Tudor, named after his father, Henry VII, was born June 28, 1491 in Greenwich Palace, London. Since he was the second son, and not expected to become king, there is little to find out about his childhood. After Arthur, his older brother, died, Henry was left heir to the throne.
Henry s education had been extremely thorough. He could speak and write fluent French and Latin, understood Italian well and spoke it a little, and by 1520 was conversant with Spanish. He loved reading. His literary talents extended to passionate love letters, as well as poetry. His chief interest was theology. He was a master of doctrinal debate. He was good at mathematics, and also keenly interested in astronomy.
Henry VII died on April 22, 1509 and his son became Henry VIII. Henry was just shy of eighteen years old when he became king, and had been preparing for it from the time of his older brother Arthur s death. At this age he was very handsome. He was very tall with broad shoulders, also with strong athletic limbs, and fair skin. Henry s contemporaries thought he was the most gentle and affable prince in the world. He was quick to laugh and intelligent, with a merry look. He had great charisma and a strong personality that won golden opinions.
Henry VIII professed all his life a deep and sincere faith in God, and for many years regarded himself as a true son of the Church of Rome. He was known to attend as many as six masses in a single day, and at least three on days when he hunted.
Apart from religion, Henry loved gambling, good food, and dancing, in which he did marvelous things, both in dancing and jumping, proving himself indefatigable. He was obsessive about hunting, which he preferred above all else. Henry hunted throughout the year, both for pleasure and to provide for his table.
Being an excellent horseman and an expert in the martial arts, Henry was also passionately fond of that other great medieval sport, the jousting tournament, which was almost a weekly event during the early years of his reign. He was a fine jouster who was conspicuous in the combats, both on horseback and on foot, excelling everyone else as much in agility at breaking spears as in nobleness of stature.
Another sport at which he excelled was tennis, not the game played at Wimbledon today, but royal (real) tennis played on a hard, enclosed court. Henry s court is preserved at Hampton Court, an altogether and more dangerous game.
Henry also enjoyed hawking, running the ring, casting the bar, wrestling, and archery. He practiced daily at the archery butts and passed a law requiring every man in England to spend an hour doing the same on Saturday afternoons, such was his faith in the reputation of the longbow as the traditional instrument of English military success. He himself could draw the bow with greater strength than any man in England.
Henry s first wife, Catherine of Aragon was plump, pretty, and had beautiful red-gold hair that hung below her hips when loose. She was the widow of King Henry VIII s older brother, Arthur. Catherine was left widowed after a year of marriage when Arthur died in 1501. It was King Henry VII s dying wish for his son, Henry, to marry Catherine of Aragon. It was important for Henry to keep the alliance between England and Spain. A treaty was signed that would allow Catherine to marry the next heir to the throne. Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were married privately on June 11, 1509, the feast day of St. Barnabas, in her closet at Greenwich. Catherine did not dictate fashion. She had all the personal qualities needed for a Queen of England. She had strong principles, and set a high moral tone for her household. Catherine s love for Henry was a deep love and would survive until death, as in everything else. She received a good education, compared to or better than that given to most girls of her rank. The Queen was literate, well read and thoroughly conversant with the Scriptures. Between the years 1510 and 1518, Catherine gave birth to six children, including two sons, but all except one daughter, Mary, were stillborn or died in early infancy. Catherine was unable to provide a male heir for King Henry VIII, which eventually led to the end of their marriage. The King s Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cromwell, had their marriage annulled.
Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII. They were privately married in January 1533, but the marriage did not become known until Easter of that year. She was intelligent and witty, and in her younger years, she was sweet and cheerful. She loved gambling, played both cards and dice, had a taste for wine, and enjoyed a joke. She was also fond of hunting. Later in the years, she became indiscreet, arrogant, and vindictive in her treatment of her enemies. She was regarded as immoral from the first simply because she was the other woman in the King s life. Her enemies thought of her as a she-devil, a tigress, and the author of all the mischief that was happening. Anne Boleyn was mother of the future Queen Elizabeth I, born in September of 1533. During their marriage Henry quickly lost interest in Anne and began to have affairs with other women. All Anne had to do to save their marriage was provide a male heir for the King. After two attempts she failed. Committed to the Tower of London, Anne was charged with adultery and alleged to have been involved in several affairs. On May 19, 1536, she was convicted by a unanimous vote and beheaded.
Jane Seymour, the mother of King Edward VI, was the third wife of King Henry VIII. The date of her birth has been estimated as 1509-1510. Jane greatly admired Queen Catherine and later used her as her own role model when she herself became queen. As an adult, she could read and sign her own name. The education that was provided for her the usual feminine skills such as household management, needlework and cookery. She enjoyed outdoor sports, having been taught to ride at an early age, and as a queen she would enjoy the following hunt. Jane was the daughter of one of the King s knights. In Henry s attempts to win Jane, he sent her a love letter and a purse. Jane sent the letter and the purse back unopened with a touching message about her family s honor. The King promised to defend the honor, and they were married May 30, 1536. Jane was the first and only wife to provide King Henry VIII with a proper male heir. At two o clock in the morning of Friday, October 12, 1537, was born a healthy baby boy, Edward. However, Jane was unable to recover from the birth and died twelve days later, October 24, 1537.
The fourth wife of King Henry was Anne of Cleves, a German princess. Anne was of a humble and gentle disposition. As for her education, she was an expert needle woman, could read and write her own language, and was very intelligent. She did not have no knowledge of French, Latin, English, or any other language; nor could she sing or play a musical instrument. They were married for political reasons. Anne was chosen by Thomas Cromwell, the Lord Chancellor. This marriage was politically convenient, as Henry needed a strong political alliance with Lutheran Germany to establish ties between England and the other protestant countries so that England would not become totally isolated. Their marriage soon became a political embarrassment when the alliance between the Catholic powers failed. The marriage was annulled on July 9, 1540. Anne was rewarded with a large income as long as she remained in England and was given the title of King s Sister.
Catherine Howard, one of ten children of Lord Edmund Howard, was Henry s fifth wife. Catherine was barely literate, and her education had been largely overlooked. She was a kind hearted girl and always happy. Catherine had been a maid of honor in his previous marriage to Anne of Cleves. Henry s marriage to Anne was annulled on July 9, 1540, and he and Catherine were secretly married on July 28, 1540 and it was conducted in private by Bishop Bonner. Catherine had been previously engaged to her cousin, Thomas Culpepper. She was thought to have had affairs with him and two others, Henry Mannock, a music teacher, and Francis Dereham. In November 1541, the King learned of these supposed affairs and became angry. He allowed Parliament to pass a bill of attainder declaring it treason for an unchaste woman to marry the king. On February 14, 1542, two days after the bill was passed, Catherine was beheaded in the Tower of London for crimes of treason.
Catherine Parr was King Henry VIII s sixth and last wife. She was born around the year 1512. She was not a pretty woman, or a beauty, but she had nice red, gold hair and hazel eyes. Catherine s looks weren t her main attractions. People were drawn more to her warm and amiable personality and her intellectual qualities. She was a good conversationalist, and loved a friendly argument, especially on matters of religious doctrine. Catherine proved to be popular with most people, mainly because she had a pleasant manner. They were married on July 12, 1543. Catherine was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendall, an official of the King s royal household. She had been married twice before her marriage to Henry, having been widowed first by Edward Borough, who died in 1529, and then in 1542 when her second husband, John Neville, Lord Latimer, died. Catherine was a highly educated and deeply religious woman. She had a great influence on the king as his reign ended. She brought the family close together and developed close friendships with Henry s three children. After Henry died in January 1547, Catherine remarried a former suitor, Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley. She died shortly after giving birth to a daughter in 1549.
At two o clock in the morning, on January 28, 1547, King Henry VIII gave his spirit to God and departed this world. He was fifty-five years old. He was the most formidable and famous king who ever reigned in England. This was an end of an era.