March 21, 2014
Most people distinguish kings as their supreme leader that would protect them from harm. In reality, there are kings that are not looked up to because of that. King Henry VIII was viewed as one of the most debatable rulers in history. His desperation to have a male son, and his need for power led him to do things no one else had done. He influenced England and literature in many different ways through his life choices. On June 28, 1491, in Greenwich, England, Henry VIII was born to King Henry Tudor VII and Elizabeth of York. His parents didn’t pay much attention to him until his two older siblings, Elizabeth and Arthur passed away. Growing up, he was a very energetic, athletic, and intelligent adolescent. He was very smart speaking fluent in French, Latin, and Spanish. He also played many instruments and was a composer (History of the Monarchy The Tudors Henry VIII 1). In April of 1509, Henry VII passed away leaving Henry VIII the throne at age seventeen. Shortly after, Henry married Catherine of Aragon in order to continue the alliance with Spain that was begun with her marriage to his older brother, Arthur. Catherine wasn’t able to have a son, so Henry pursued Anne Boleyn who was a maid of honor in his court. Henry tried to annul his marriage to Catherine, but the Pope wouldn’t allow it. Henry decided to break from the Church which granted him a divorce. He secretly married Anne in 1533. She also couldn’t produce a son, so he made up charges of witchcraft and adultery with her friend Thomas Wyatt and had Anne beheaded in 1536. Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour was supposedly his only true love. Jane shortly died after having a son, Edward VI. Jane’s death was the only one that caused Henry to mourn over and remove himself from the court. Henry’s next marriage was arranged by Thomas Cromwell to a German princess Anne of Cleves. She was so unattractive that Henry could not force himself to stay married to her. He ended the marriage with an annulment. Sixteen days later, he married the young Kathryn Howard who was nineteen while he was forty-nine. Rumors started about her having liaisons while they were married and Henry had her and her lovers executed in 1542. Henry’s final wife who was widowed was Catherine Parr. She didn’t have any children of her own, but she became a stepmother and wife who took care of Henry until his death in January of 1547 (The Six Wives of Henry VIII 1).
Henry stayed well informed about different issues, but had no real interest in running a country. Throughout his reign, he made many decisions that would play a part in England’s future. He instigated major restructuring of the government including the establishment of a bureaucracy. His change of the navy into a fleet of fighting ships enabled and encouraged England’s involvement in several wars with Scotland and France over many fights that had been unsettled for years. The fighting continued until 1516 when he gave up fighting to promote peace in Europe (The World Book Encyclopedia 188).
Henry developed a positive relationship with the Pope. It began in 1513 when they became friends in a Holy League against France. In 1521, the Pope gave him the title “Defender of the Faith” for his book Defense of the Seven Sacraments (Henry VIII 1). When Henry wanted to divorce his first wife, he challenged the Pope’s authority. He used his position as king to bully the church and the Pope hoping to force the Pope to grant his divorce. In 1532, England passed the Act of Annates which cancelled the Pope’s power over England and cut funding to the Catholic Church. Parliament passed antipapal legislation and Thomas Cranmer announced Henry’s marriage to Catherine invalid. This legislation brought about the Act in Restraint of Appeals which said that England was independent of all foreign