Henry the VIII is one of the most controversial and glamourous kings in the English history so much so that till this day we see his life immortalized in some way or the other in movies, tv shows, books, internet sphere etc. He has captured the imagination of the public only for 2 main reasons: His 6 marriages! and the English Reformation.
The 16th century English court was well known for its lavish feasts, glamourous high living, secret debauchery among many other things. The whole of Henry’s reign is highlighted by his marital pursuits which were fueled by his quest for a male heir, (which he could never achieve) and also because of this very pursuit he caused the separation of church from the state , bolstered the establishment of Protestantism, fought with the Roman Catholic Church and what not.
During his reign he was quite lucky enough to not face any external aggression resulting in wars neither did he expand his empire in any manner. Major conflict that he dealt with were internal and religious nature. Another very notorious habit of Henrys was to behead people without any restrain and whenever he felt like. Most of his notable courtiers had to face this fate- Thomas Roe, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell to name a few. Courtly power apparently came with a huge price.
About his many marriages the longest one lasted with Catherine of Aragon. She was earlier married to his elder brother after he died and Henry assumed the thrown he decided to marry her. Catherine bore him a daughter (Mary) but not a male heir which always pricked Henry because he was desperate to secure the future line for the thrown.
Somewhere around 1525 Henry met Anne Boleyn – lady in waiting to Queen Catherine and ofcourse she caught his eye. Anne Boleyn belonged to the upstart family of Howards who obviously wanted to rise high in the hierarchy so the motive was always there to push Anne towards Henry. Anne herself was much different from Catherine, while Catherine was a pious Spanish women, Anne on the other hand was sassy, smart and fun to be with. So naturally Henry fell for her and sought to divorce Catherine and marry her instead.
Much of Henry’s obsession came from the long courtship with Anne and the Church’s resistance to the divorce and the remarriage. It took almost a decade to finalize everything by when he had denounced the Church , proclaimed himself the head of the state and divorced and exiled Catherine once and for all. After marriage the burden was now on Anne to produce a male heir which was the only way to establish her position. This also didn’t happen, she too gave birth to a girl and miscarried 2 times after that. Eventually Henry grew tired of her and conspired to have her convicted for incest and adultery and ultimately sought to put her to death.
While he was trying to put away his second wife,Henry was already besotted with another women- Jane Seymour (another lady in waiting) and had decided to pursue her. After putting Boleyn away he quickly married Seymour- she bore him a son Edward the VI but he unfortunately couldn’t survive, Seymour herself died at childbirth. Both of these incidences were a huge blow to Henry and after that it just went downhill with one marriage after the other. Obesity, inactivity, infertility came his way as he aged and by the time he was 55 he died most probably due to syphilis.
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