Who was Henry VIII?
Henry VIII was one of England’s most famous kings. His reign (1509-47) is usually remembered for the King’s six wives and his legendary appetite. Infamously, he sent two of his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, to their deaths on the executioner’s block at the Tower of London. But it is too easy to think of Henry VIII simply as the terrible monster of his bloated old age, shuffling painfully though Hampton Court Palace.
Henry was once a vivacious little boy, adored and indulged until his elder brother Arthur’s death placed a huge, unexpected burden on this second son. Two years later Henry’s beloved mother Elizabeth of York died and his protective father Henry VII kept his precious heir cossetted and restricted.
Many of his actions as king still resonate today. It could be said that in many ways Henry VIII made our modern world. The break with Rome, the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries had profound and lasting effects. He was a paradox: a strong ruler, yet an anxious, insecure man. Henry was a ‘golden youth’ before a great series of losses and misadventures took their toll. Perhaps these go some way to explain his behaviour and gradual decline.
Who were his wives again?
You’ve probably heard that it didn’t end well for most of them, but here’s the run down of who they were and what happened to them…
- Catherine of Aragon; Divorced
- Anne Boleyn; Beheaded
- Jane Seymour; Died
- Anne of Cleves; Divorced
- Kathryn Howard; Beheaded
- Catherine Parr; Survived
Why was it important for Henry to look after his foreign visitors to Hampton Court Palace?
Henry would lay on grand feasts decorated with expensive tapestries as to impress and foreign visitors he might be entertaining.
This was because he needed them to go home and tell there kings and queens how wealthy and strong Henry was so that they should not try to invade England or take advantage of England in any way.
Henry VIII Top Facts
He was king from when he was 17 in 1509 up until he died in 1547.
He’s probably most famous for having 6 wives!
His first marriage to Katherine of Aragon lasted for over 20 years. He then married five more times in a little over 10 years!
Henry was 1.87m tall (6ft 2in). The average Londoner measured 1.70m (5ft 5in).
Hampton Court became the visible expression of Henry VIII’s new wealth – a royal pleasure palace.