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King Henry Viii: The Man With Almost As Many Wifes As His Title

1151 words - 5 pages

England, one of the most powerful nations in the world, especially in the 1500s, was deeply changed throughout the rule of King Henry VIII. Even though his rule spanned a forty year period, it is still one of the most widely known and remembered reigns today. Henry was the second monarch in the famed Tudor dynasty. This king is most widely known for his important role in the separation between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England as well as his many wives throughout the course of his rule. Throughout the span of King Henry VIII’s life, he obtained six different wives and had seven children in total that were named [although most of them died shortly after birth]. Two of his wives he divorced, two were beheaded, one died, and one survived because of Henry’s death. However, Henry’s first two wives had the greatest impression on the direction of English rule. These two wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, had an influential impact on his many decisions throughout his rule on the English throne.

INTRODUCTION

“Born on 28 June 1491, Henry was the second son of King Henry VII of England. Following his elder brother Arthur’s death in 1502, he acceded to the English throne in April 1509” (Richardson 6). Henry was rather vain, but he was a king after all. He partook in hunting and sport but was also academically intelligent, speaking various languages and following the arts and theological debate. As William Shakespeare put it in the famous play King Henry VIII, this king was “more interested in arms and armor, swordplay, jousting, hunting, and women than in kingship” (Jokinen 1). Henry came into power under a time of peace among surrounding nations. His father ruled justly and was rewarded with a quietened period after the Wars of the Roses.

CATHERINE OF ARAGON: 23 YEARS, 11 MONTHS, 19 DAYS

The marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon produced only one long-surviving child: a girl named Mary, who would one day become the infamous Queen Mary I. Soon after Henry’s father’s death, Henry declared he would indeed marry Catherine of Aragon, stating this was his father’s dying wish. It is unsure whether this is true, but it was certainly convenient. The main, initial purpose of this marriage was to bring a parallel alliance between England and the House of Trastámara in Spain [the ruling family at the time] (Richardson 8). Holding Catherine as his bride, Henry received much political clout with surrounding European nations. Because of the recent Wars of the Roses, the king was desperate for a son to rule after him.

It is often forgotten this marriage lasted as long as it did, about 24 years. But nonetheless, after much frustration with the lack of a male heir, Henry madly lusted for a woman at court called Anne Boleyn, a sister of one of his mistresses. However, the king may also have had the belief that the marriage to his brother’s widow was a crime against God, and that was the reason for the deaths of his children. Henry...

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