REIGNED: After the reign of the avaricious, duplicitous Henry Tudor, it was a welcome relief when he was succeeded by the amiable, athletic Henry VIII. He was a man who loved music, the military arts, and was interested in building England's navy. Considered by his contemporaries as a true renaissance prince, Henry proved just as ruthless as his father, a man who brooked no opposition, real or imagined. He profoundly influenced the character of the English monarchy.
At the beginning of his reign, Henry's good looks and hearty personality, his fondness for sport and the hunt, and his military prowess endeared him to his subjects. A monarch of the period known as the Renaissance, he entertained numerous scholars and artists, including the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger, who painted several famous portraits of the king and members of his court.
«u»A Question of Divorce«/u»
Henry decided to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon because she had not produced a male heir. In addition, Henry was in love with Anne Boleyn, a young and beautiful lady-in-waiting of the queen. Several obstacles, however, stood in the way of the divorce and the Pope refused to grant dispensation.
«u»The Break with the Papacy«/u»
Henry now proceeded to dissolve one by one the ties to the papacy. With the aid of parliamentary legislation, he first secured control of the clergy, compelling that group in 1532 to acknowledge him as head of the English church. In the following year Henry secretly married Anne Boleyn, who was crowned queen.
Although Henry was immediately excommunicated, he repudiated papal jurisdiction in 1534 and made himself the supreme ecclesiastical authority in England. The English people were required to affirm under oath Henry's supremacy and the act of succession. Henry dissolved the monastic communities and gave much of their property to the nobles in exchange for their support.
In 1536, after charging Anne Boleyn with incest and adultery, Henry had her executed. A few days after Anne's death, Henry married Jane Seymour, who died in 1537 after bearing Henry's only legitimate son, Edward, later Edward VI.
A marriage was arranged in 1540 with Anne of Cleves (1515-57) in order to form a tie between England and the Protestant princes of Germany. Because Anne was unattractive and because Henry found the political alliance no longer to his advantage, he divorced her after several months and married Catherine Howard in the same year. She was executed summarily in 1542 for having been unchaste prior to marriage and having committed adultery. In the following year Henry married his sixth wife, Catherine Parr, who survived him.
Between 1542 and 1546 Henry was involved in war with Scotland and France. His troops defeated the Scots at Solway Moss in 1542. They captured Boulogne-sur-Mer from the French in 1544, and when peace was made in 1546 Henry received an indemnity from France. He died in London on January 28, 1547.
«u»Effects of Henry's Reign«/u»
Although he altered the church, Henry did not wish to introduce Protestant doctrine. Those who refused to accept Church of England teachings as well as those who rejected Henry's authority over the church were executed. The licensing of an English translation of the Bible, the issuance of Cranmer's litany, and the translation into English of certain parts of the traditional service were the only important religious changes made during Henry's reign. In terms of the monarchy, he intensified the authoritarian elements characteristic of the Tudor dynasty to which he belonged. The great strength of government developed by Henry was used powerfully in the reign of Elizabeth I, his daughter by Anne Boleyn.
EVENT: is confirmed as "Supreme Head of the Church of England" following a parliamentary Act of Supremacy.
BIOGRAPHICAL: Fitzroy was the King's bastard son by his mistress Elizabeth Blount.