Tudor King: Henry VIII

Henry VIII was born on the 28th June 1491 at Greenwich to parents; King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.  He ascended to the English throne on the 21st April 1509.

Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the joint rulers of Spain.  When she was three she was betrothed to Arthur aged two at the time, the son of Henry VII.  Catherine and Arthur were eventually married on the 14th November 1501in London and lived at Ludlow Castle, within six months Arthur had died.

Henry went on to marry his late brother’s wife Catherine of Aragon on the 11th June 1509 creating an alliance between England and Spain.  On the 24th June Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were crowned King and Queen of England in a joint coronation at Westminster Abbey.

Henry wanted a son and as much as she tried, she was only ever able to conceive one child that being a daughter; Mary who was born in February 1516, for all other attempts ended in still born births or miscarriages.  Henry was frustrated that she had not given him a male heir, but always remained loyal to her.

By 1526, he had fallen in love with another, one Anne Boleyn and Catherine and Henry were hardly seen together.  With a new wife in the making, Henry made a petition to the Pope for an annulment of their marriage, for in his eyes, the only true heir should be a boy.

The wrangling between; Henry, Catherine and the Pope continued for many years.

Henry VIII wanted Anne Boleyn to become one of his many mistresses, but she implied she would be his wife and Queen or nothing.  Yet he was still married to Catherine of Aragon, and trying to get an annulment approved by the Pope.  Yet her face became a common sight in Court from 1528.  Then on the 1st September 1532, she was made the Marquess of Pembroke.

Henry VIII rejected the influence being imposed on him by the Pope’s representative in England, and insisted that the Archbishop of Canterbury; Thomas Cranmer should create an annulment.

In December 1532 she announced she was with child; Henry’s child.  On the 25th January 1533 Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were secretly married, yet the marriage would be classed invalid as he was still married in the eyes of the law and church to Catherine of Aragon.

On the 23rd May 1533, the Archbishop of Canterbury formerly announced that the marriage between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was invalid.

Catherine died at Kimbolton Castle on the 7th January 1536, and was buried at Peterborough Abbey as it was known then, as Princess Dowager, not as a Queen of England.

On the 1st June 1536 she was crowned Queen of England, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and on the 7th September she gave birth to a daughter; Princess Elizabeth, much to the disgust of Henry.

She had numerous failed attempts of giving birth to a boy.  With no male heir, her days as Queen were limited, for she had observed the King paying much attention to one of her ladies in waiting; Jane Seymour.

She sought to retain her position in court as Queen with her allies, but without conceiving a son her days were doomed.  One of Henry’s allies Cromwell aided his King in getting rid of Anne Boleyn, so he could re-marry.

On the 30th April 1536, Mark Smeaton was arrested and tortured, then from information received, Sir Henry Norris and George Boleyn’s the Queens own brother was arrested, along with Sir Francis Weston and Wiiliam Breton.

On the 2nd May the Queen was arrested and charged with committing adultery with Sir Francis Weston and Wiiliam Breton, and plotting against the life of the King.

They came to trial at Westminster Hall on the 12th May 1536 and were all found guilty of the charges.  So it was that on the 17th May George Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill.  Whilst Sir Henry Norris, Mark Smeaton, William Breton and Sir Francis Weston were beheaded the same day on Tower Hill.

On the 19th May Anne Boleyn was led out to Tower Hill and beheaded, and her remains were buried in the Chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula adjoining Tower Green.

Jane Seymour first arrived in court in the service of Queen Catherine of Aragon, and later became one of Queen Anne Boleyn’s ladies in waiting.

On the 20th May 1536 Jane Seymour was betrothed to henry VIII and on the 30th May they were married.

In the early part of 1537, Jane was with child, and in the October she gave birth to a son; Prince Edward at Hampton Court Palace.  He was christened on the 15th October 1537.

Jane Seymour died on the 24th October some two weeks after the birth of her son.  Jane was the only one of Henry’s six wives to be buried alongside him in St.George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  It is believed that Henry’s love for Jane was one of sincerity, for he remained single for two years after her death.

Thomas Cromwell made inquiries on Henry’s behalf for a future bride from overseas, and Hans Holbein considered one of the finest Tudor court painters of his time, was dispatched to the court of the Duke of Cleaves.  Upon seeing the final image of Anne Cleaves a marriage contract was drawn up, and on the 6th January 1540 Henry VIII married Anne of Cleaves.

He found his new wife and future Queen unsuitable for life at court, for she had been raised for domestic work and his interest was one of literature and music.  In July of 1540 the marriage was dissolved, and she took the title “Kings Sister” and lived out the rest of her days at Hever Castle.  She died on the 16th July 1557, and was buried on the 4th August 1557 in Westminster Abbey.

Kathryn Howard came to court aged just nineteen, and was lady in waiting to Anne of Cleaves.  On the 28th July 1540 Henry VIII married Kathryn Howard at Oatlands Palace.

She was young and rumours of her infidelity spread, as men her own age attracted her.  Henry reached a point when enough was enough, as she hadn’t acted properly as a Queen, and Henry instigated investigations which proved her guilt without doubt.  She should never have been allowed to marry Henry VIII as the difference in their ages was far too great.  He was 49 she was 19.

On the 13th February she was executed on Tower Green and buried in the Chapel of St.Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London.

Katherine Parr the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and Maud Green, formerly lady in waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. She was fluent in French, Latin and Italian, and after her marriage to Henry VIII on the 12th July 1543 at Queen’s Closet, Hampton Court Palace opted to learn Spanish.

She was a reformer at heart, and she and Henry often argued over religion.  Ultimately, Henry remained committed to a mixture of Catholicism and Protestantism.  Parr went on to help Henry reconcile himself with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth.  In 1543, an Act of Parliament put the daughters back in the line of succession after his son Edward, Prince of Wales.  The same act allowed Henry to determiner further successions to the throne within his will.

King Henry VIII of England died on the 28th January 1547, making her a widow.  It had been expected she would take the role of Regency for the nine year-old King EdwardVI, but that was not to be.

After the death of her husband King Henry VIII, Katherine Parr married Thomas Seymour a few months later causing a political scandal in the process.

After three previous marriages and at the age of 36 Katherine was pregnant for the first time in June of 1548, and moved to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire to await the birth of her child.  On the 30th August she gave birth to a child named Mary, and shortly after the birth was struck down with puerperal fever.  On the 5th September her life passed from her, and she was buried that very day in St.Mary’s Chapel in Sudeley Castle.

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