The Six Wives Of Henry Viii

1901 words - 8 pages

The Six Wives of Henry VIIIDivorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived: these are the ultimate fates of the six wives of Henry VIII. Henry took his first bride, Catherine of Aragon, when he was seventeen. They lasted twenty-four years together, but Catherine suffered through many miscarriages and failed to produce a male heir. Henry then fell in love with Anne Boleyn, the mother of Elizabeth I. Their relationship transformed England forever, but Henry had Anne beheaded and married his next wife, Jane Seymour, days after Anne's execution. At last, Seymour gave birth to Henry's longed-for-son, Edward VI. What followed was a beauty contest which ended in the King's brief marriage to the "mare of Flanders," Anne of Cleves. Finally, there were the two Catherines: Catherine Howard, the flirtatious teenager whose adulteries made a fool of the aging kind and who was the second bride to lose her head; and Catherine Parr, the shrewd, religiously radical author who outlived him. Catherine of Aragon was the youngest surviving child of the "Catholic Kings," Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. She was betrothed from an early age to Henry's older brother, Prince Arthur. In preparation of her future as Queen Consort, she was schooled in Latin and French, religious texts, Roman history, philosophy, civil and church law plus traditional bridal skills - embroidery, music, dance, drawing and, even, cooking. In 1501, Catherine, aged sixteen, arrived in England to wed Arthur. Their marriage did not last long, however, as Arthur died the following year. Catherine's parents, eager for an alliance with England, were quick to negotiate a betrothal between the newly widowed Catherine and the new heir to the throne. By the time Prince Henry was old enough to be wed, Henry VII was no longer so keen for a Spanish alliance. Catherine's mother, Isabella of Castile, had died, dramatically shrinking Ferdinand's realm. Henry VII soon died, leaving the young king free to choose his own bride. Although Catherine was six years his senior, seventeen-year-old Henry chose Catherine as his bride. The couple were crowned in a double coronation in 1509. During her early years as Queen, Catherine acted as the king's most influential advisor. Her goal in this was not only to support her spouse, but also to advance the interests of Spain. She was a strong proponent of learning as well as a devout Catholic. Catherine of Aragon was Henry VIII's most popular queen. She failed, however, in one of her greatest responsibilities, bearing a male heir. Only two of Catherine's six children were born alive. A male child, Henry, died shortly after birth. A female child, Mary, was born in 1516. Henry VIII felt the pressing need for a male heir. This, coupled with his love affair with Anne Boleyn, led King Henry to seek an annulment to his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. After 18 years of marriage, King Henry declared himself troubled by whether or not he had sinned in...

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