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Henry VIII

Key Dates

1491 Birth of Henry at Greenwich Palace, 28 June
1502 Death of Arthur, Henry’s elder brother.
1509 Henry crowned King Henry VIII
1509 Henry marries Catherine of Aragon
1516 Birth of Mary I
1533 Henry marries Anne Boleyn
1533 Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen
1533 Birth of Elizabeth I
1534 Act of Supremacy. Henry is made head of the English Church instead of the Pope.
1534 Treason Act. Anyone who disagrees that Henry is now Head of the English Church can be tried for Treason.
1535 Sir Thomas More is executed.
1536 Death of Catherine of Aragon
1536 Anne Boleyn is executed.
1536 Henry marries Jane Seymour
1536 Pilgrimage of Grace.
1536 The Ten Articles
1537 Birth of Edward VI
1537 Death of Jane Seymour
1539 The Six Articles
1540 Henry marries Anne of Cleves, the marriage is annulled six months later
1540 Thomas Cromwell is executed
1540 Henry marries Catherine Howard
1542 Catherine Howard is executed
1543 Publication of the King’s Book
1543 Henry marries Catherine Parr
1547 Death of Henry VIII, 28 January.

Character of Henry VIII

In his youth Henry was energetic, with a passion for sports and hunting. He enjoyed intellectual debates, particularly about religion and encouraged scholars to attend his Court.

Two of Henry VII most senior ministers were removed from office and executed for treason shortly after Henry VIII became king.

In contrast to his father Henry spent vast sums of money on furnishing his Royal apartments, lavish entertainments and his own personal appearance.  This was partly to impress visiting dignitaries and foreign ambassadors and to promote his royal image.

Henry could be charming and gracious and he appeared to be happily married to his wife Catherine of Aragon.

The later years of Henry’s reign were overshadowed by his need for a male heir. When Catherine refused to divorce Henry and quietly disappear to a nunnery, Henry banished her and forbid her to see her daughter Mary.

Henry was also ambitious. He wanted to reclaim territories in France, if not the French Crown itself. Henry spent vast sums of money in trying to achieve this ambition. Money was raised from taxes, forced loans, debasement of the currency and from the sale of monastic lands. By the end of his reign England was in a period of very high inflation.

Henry rewarded his supporters with land and titles but he dealt ruthlessly with his enemies. Many of Henry’s opponents were executed. Sir Thomas More was a friend and Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII. He was executed for not recognising Henry as Head of the Church.  Those Henry favoured often rose swiftly at Court, but their downfall could be equally as dramatic when they fell out of favour, as in the case of Thomas Cromwell.

In a jousting accident in 1536 Henry suffered a blow to the head. He also aggravated an old leg wound which never properly healed and became ulcerated. From this time Henry was unable to exercise properly and he became obese. Historians have speculated the effect this may have had on his personality and view it as a possible cause for his violent mood swings. In later life Henry became more unpredictable. At the end of his life Henry was frequently ill and bad-tempered.

Early Life

Henry was born on the 28 June 1491 at Greenwich Palace. His mother was Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV. His father was Henry VII, son of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor.

Henry was well educated and studied many subjects including Latin, French, mathematics and theology. He wrote several poems and pieces of music. As the second son of Henry VII, Henry was not expected to be King. Henry VII may have been planning a religious appointment for him with a role in the Church.

When Henry’s older brother Arthur died in 1502, Henry became heir to the throne and was made Prince of Wales.

In 1509, at the age of seventeen Henry’s father died and he was crowned King Henry VIII.

Contemporary accounts considered Henry to be handsome and he was tall for the time, at 1m 88cm (6 feet 2 inches). Henry was also very athletic and a keen sportsman, enjoying tennis, archery and jousting. During the early years of his reign, the Venetian Ambassador wrote that Henry was content to let his country be ruled by Cardinal Wolsey so that he could continue playing sports, go hunting and ‘devote himself to pleasure’. Henry’s first wife was the Spanish Princess Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his elder brother Arthur.

Henry and his Wives

Catherine of Aragon

Catherine was born in December 1485, in Alcala de Henares near Madrid. Her mother was the formidable and pious Isabella of Castile and her father King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They were the powerful rulers of Spain.

Catherine was highly educated, intelligent, strong-willed and an ardent follower of the Roman Catholic faith.

In 1501 Catherine of Aragon travelled to England and in November married Arthur Tudor, as part of a treaty between Spain and England. As Prince and Princess of Wales they moved to Ludlow. In April 1502 Arthur died, leaving Catherine a widow at 16 years old.

It was proposed that Catherine now marry Henry. Arguments between Henry VII and her father King Ferdinand over her dowry left Catherine short of money, although she remained in England.

In June 1509, shortly after becoming King, Henry married Catherine of Aragon at Greenwich. The Pope had to grant a dispensation (give special permission) for the marriage, as Catherine was the widow of Arthur, Henry’s brother.

On the 24 June Henry and Catherine were crowned King and Queen at Westminster Abbey. Catherine took as her motto ‘Humble and Loyal’.

In 1513 Catherine was left as Regent while Henry was off fighting in France. While he was away Scotland invaded England. The Scots were defeated at the Battle of Flodden. Catherine sent the bloodied coat of King James IV to Henry in France.

In June 1520 Catherine went to France with Henry to attend the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Catherine had an interest in learning and was a patron of education giving generous donations to support colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. As a devout, pious Roman Catholic, Catherine regularly attended mass and confession. She was also noted for her compassion and charitable works.  Catherine was seen as a model wife, even sewing shirts for Henry. Catherine of Aragon was a very popular Queen.

Of six known pregnancies, only their daughter Mary born in February 1516, survived beyond infancy. A son Henry had been born in January 1511 to much celebration. He suddenly died less than two months later in February.

‘The Great Matter’

Henry’s desire for a male heir (and for Anne Boleyn) led to him seeking a divorce from Catherine.  Technically it was not a divorce, although often called that. Henry was actually trying to get the Pope to declare that his marriage to Catherine had been invalid from the start. Catherine refused to give in declaring that her marriage to Arthur had never been consummated, and that she had been lawfully married to Henry. Henry argued that the Pope had been wrong to grant them a dispensation to marry. The Bible (Leviticus 20:21) said that it was wrong for a man to marry his brother’s wife and would leave the couple childless.

At this time Rome, where Pope Clement VII resided, was under the control of Catherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was unsuccessful in persuading the Pope to grant the annulment. Henry’s disappointment at Wolsey’s failure saw the beginning of his downfall.

The ‘divorce’ proceedings had been going on for a number of years, since the late 1520’s. In January 1533 Henry and Anne Boleyn were secretly married.

When papal authority for an annulment was still not forthcoming, Henry turned to the new Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. In 1533 Thomas Cranmer declared Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be invalid.  The 1533 Act of Succession formally declared Henry’s marriage to Catherine to be unlawful and legitimised the marriage between Henry and Anne Boleyn.

Later Years

In late 1531 Catherine of Aragon had been sent with her household to live at The More, Hertfordshire. Catherine always insisted that she was the true, lawful wife and Queen of Henry VIII.

In 1533 after Thomas Cranmer had formally annulled the marriage with Catherine, Henry decided that she was no longer in need of such a large household and reduced her annual income.  Catherine was also given the title of Dowager Princess of Wales, which she refused to use.

Catherine was moved from one remote location to another. In 1535 she was living at Kimbolton Castle with a much reduced household. Henry forbade Catherine to see her daughter Mary.

Catherine of Aragon died at Kimbolton on the 7th January 1536. She was buried at Peterborough Abbey (now the Cathedral). Henry did not attend the funeral and neither did her daughter Mary, who had been forbidden to go.


Henry’s desire to end his marriage with Catherine of Aragon began the English Reformation. Parliament passed a series of Acts formally recognising Henry’s separation from the Church in Rome.

Acts were passed by the Reformation Parliament that stopped all payments from the English Church to the Pope. It was forbidden to make appeals directly to Rome as any judgements the Pope made were deemed invalid.

The 1534 Act of Supremacy made Henry VIII the Supreme Head of the Church of England instead of the Pope. The Treason Act made it an offence, punishable by death to deny Henry’s position as Head of the Church. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester and the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More were both beheaded for refusing to accept Henry as Head of the Church.

Revenue from the churches now went to Henry and the Crown not the Pope. Realising the wealth available in the Church, Thomas Cromwell oversaw the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 -1540 with all assets and income going to the Crown. Opposition to this led to a series of uprisings known as the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536.

There were, however, no fundamental changes to religious beliefs or Church practices during Henry’s reign.

The Ten Articles of 1536 introduced Protestantism in a limited form. Henry, however, was not happy with many of the changes Thomas Cromwell was making in the Church. The Six Articles of 1539 saw a return to more Catholic practices. In 1543 the King’s Book was published. This rejected many Protestant ideas.

Henry VIII was essentially still a Catholic, but he no longer answered to the Pope in Rome.

Anne Boleyn

It is not known when Anne Boleyn was born. It is most likely to have been between 1501 and 1507. Anne was the daughter of Lady Elizabeth Howard and Thomas Boleyn.

In 1513, Anne was sent to the Netherlands to be educated in the household of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria. In 1514 Anne went to France to serve as a maid of honour to Queen Mary, sister of Henry VIII. She then served in the household of Queen Claude. Anne returned to England in 1522.

Anne was very well educated and could dance, sing and play the lute. Contemporaries described her as graceful, charming and intelligent. Having lived for many years at Court in France, Anne dressed in the French style and spoke French fluently. This won her many admirers at the English Court. Henry later accused her of being argumentative and meddling and prone to fits of temper.

Anne was secretly betrothed to Henry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland. This was ended when Cardinal Wolsey refused to give his permission for the engagement.

In 1531 Queen Catherine of Aragon was commanded by Henry to leave Court. Anne Boleyn moved in and gained a much larger household.  Anne began to have a greater political role and had a good relationship with the French ambassador.

In September 1532 Henry made Anne the Marquess of Pembroke. Henry had created this peerage for her and it made Anne very wealthy and elevated her status considerably.

In late 1532 Anne accompanied Henry to Calais to visit the French King Francis I. Shortly after their return to England, Henry and Anne were secretly married. In May the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer formally declared Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be invalid. Five days later Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage between Anne and Henry to be valid.

On 1 June 1533 Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen Consort at Westminster.  Anne had as her motto ‘The most happy’.

The English public were not particularly fond of their new Queen Anne. Some were even openly hostile towards her, especially those who were supporters of Catherine of Aragon. Anne was also considered to be a heretic, for being interested in reforming the Church and for promoting the works of William Tyndale.

Anne, as Queen, fulfilled her duty by giving charitable donations to the poor. Anne also came into conflict with Thomas Cromwell as she believed that money from the dissolution of the monasteries should be used for more worthy causes such as the poor and education.

On 7 September 1533 Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth.

Anne did not have any successful pregnancies after the birth of Elizabeth. It is believed that Anne miscarried in 1534 and again in January 1536, when Anne was said to have miscarried a male child. By this time, Henry was already looking to marry his mistress Jane Seymour.

Trial and Execution

Mark Smeaton, a musician in Anne’s household, was arrested in April 1536. He confessed to adultery with Anne Boleyn.  As a commoner, Smeaton may have been tortured to get this confession. Several other arrests were made. Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston and Sir William Brereton were all charged with adultery and treason. George Boleyn, Lord Rochford (Anne’s brother), was also arrested charged with treason and incestuous adultery.

With the approval of Henry, Anne was arrested on 2 May 1536 and taken to the Tower of London. Anne’s household was broken up.

The trial of Anne Boleyn was overseen by her Uncle the Duke of Norfolk. It was held on 15 May in the King’s Hall at the Tower of London.

Anne was accused of adultery with a number of men, including her brother George. Thomas Cromwell produced evidence, mainly from interviews, purporting to show that Anne had committed adultery with them on several occasions. The accusation of incest came from statements given by her brother’s wife Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford.  As well as the charge of incest, Cromwell tried to blacken her character further by accusing Anne of witchcraft.  Cromwell also alleged that Anne had been plotting with her lovers to murder Henry.

Anne strongly denied all the charges against her. Anne had alibis for several of the dates given for these alleged acts of adultery. Defending her honour Anne stated that although she had not always shown Henry the humility she owed him “…may God be my witness if I have done him any other wrong.”
Anne was found guilty of adultery and treason.

George Boleyn, Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton and Mark Smeaton were executed on 17 May 1536. All except Smeaton, had pleaded their innocence.

On the 19 May 1536, before a crowd of spectators, Anne was led to the scaffold. Anne was calm and dignified, giving a short speech which did not criticise Henry. Neither did she claim she was guilty of the charges.  Anne Boleyn was beheaded by the swordsman King Henry had sent from France.

Anne Boleyn was buried in an unmarked grave at the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.

Prior to her execution, the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer had annulled the marriage between Anne and Henry. This made their daughter Elizabeth illegitimate.

Jane Seymour

The exact place and date of birth for Jane Seymour are not known but she was probably born in 1508 at the family home Wolfhall in Wiltshire. Her parents were Margery Wentworth and Sir John Seymour. Jane was a second cousin to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

Jane was not as well educated as Anne Boleyn. Jane had a talent for needlework and would have received instruction in household management.

Jane Seymour probably served as a maid of honour (a junior attendant) to Queen Catherine of Aragon and then served Queen Anne Boleyn.

The day after the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry and Jane were formally betrothed. On 30 May 1536 Henry VIII married Jane Seymour at the Palace of Whitehall, London. Jane was proclaimed Queen Consort on the 4th June, although she was never crowned.

Contemporary accounts described Jane as virtuous, modest and gentle natured. The Spanish Ambassador called her ‘no great beauty’. Jane took as her motto ‘bound to obey and serve’.

On the 12 October 1537 Jane gave birth to a son, Edward, at Hampton Court Palace. The birth had been long and difficult and Jane died 12 days later, on the 24 October.

Jane Seymour was given a Queen’s funeral and was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle in November 1537.

Anne of Cleves

Anne was born in Dusseldorf in September 1515. Her parents were John, Duke of Cleves and the Duchess Maria.  Thomas Cromwell considered it to be a good political move for Henry if he married Anne as it would gain them important Protestant allies. Anne could not speak English.

Hans Holbein the Younger was sent to paint a portrait of Anne.

Henry’s first meeting with Anne did not go well. When he arrived unannounced Anne did not know who he was and so did not formally acknowledge him. Henry was said to be disappointed with her appearance and her manner. Henry asked Cromwell to try and get him out of the marriage contract. This however, was not possible. Henry married Anne of Cleves on 6 January 1540 at Greenwich Palace. Anne had as her motto ‘God send me well to keep’.

Henry later argued that the marriage had not been consummated. The marriage was annulled on the 9 July 1540 and Anne did not contest it.

Less than three weeks after his marriage to Anne had been annulled, Henry married Catherine Howard.

Anne of Cleves was given a generous settlement and was given the title of the ‘King’s Beloved Sister’. Anne never re-married or left England.

Anne’s last public appearance was at the coronation of Mary I in Westminster.

Anne of Cleves died in July 1557 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Catherine Howard

Catherine was the daughter of Jocelyn Culpeper and Lord Edmund Howard, the younger brother of the politically ambitious Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Catherine’s exact place and date of birth are not known, but she was probably born in the early 1520’s.  She was a cousin of Anne Boleyn.

In 1531, Catherine was sent to live in the household of Agnes Tilney, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. Agnes was her step-grandmother and was very wealthy, with estates in Horsham and Lambeth. It was common practice for children from distinguished families to be sent to other households for education and instruction.

While being questioned about her adultery Catherine confessed to having had a minor relationship with her music teacher Henry Mannox in about 1536. She also had a more serious relationship with Francis Dereham who was Secretary of the Dowager’s household.

In 1540, Catherine Howard was sent to Court and made Lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves. Henry took a liking to the young, vivacious Catherine. He called her ‘his rose without a thorn’. On the 28 July 1540 the 49 year old Henry VIII married Catherine Howard at Oatlands Palace. Catherine had as her motto ‘no other will but his’.

Catherine Howard is alleged to have committed adultery with Thomas Culpeper, a gentleman of the King’s Privy Chamber. The meetings were said to have been arranged by Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, widow of George Boleyn (Queen Anne Boleyn’s brother).  A letter written by Catherine to Thomas Culpeper was used as evidence of their adultery.

Catherine had also appointed Francis Dereham as her personal Secretary, possibly on the insistence of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

In the summer of 1541 Henry and Catherine went on a Royal tour of the North of England.

Rumours had been circulating around Court about Catherine’s past and current indiscretions. In November, the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer reported this to King Henry who gave his approval for an investigation. Henry Mannox and Francis Dereham were both arrested and confessed, under interrogation, to their relationships with Catherine, prior to her marriage to King Henry. Dereham had implicated Thomas Culpeper as having an adulterous relationship with the Queen.

A delegation of councillors led by Thomas Cranmer formally questioned Catherine about her ‘unchastity’ before her marriage and her alleged adultery. Catherine strenuously denied the charge of adultery. Catherine was sent to Syon Abbey, Middlesex and subsequently stripped of the title of Queen.

At Tyburn on the 10 December 1541 Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham were executed. Culpeper, at the mercy of King Henry, was beheaded while Dereham was hung, drawn, and quartered. Their heads were placed on spikes on top of London Bridge.

Several members of the Howard family, including the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk were arrested. They were threatened with imprisonment and losing their property for concealing Catherine’s past.

In February 1542, Parliament passed a Bill of Attainder making it an act of treason for a Queen Consort to fail to disclose her past relationships. This was punishable by death.

Catherine was taken to the Tower of London. The night before her execution she is alleged to have practised placing her head on to the chopping block. On 13 February 1542 Lady Catherine Howard was executed.

Catherine was only about 20 years old. Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford was executed after her. Henry did not attend the executions.

Catherine Howard was buried in an unmarked grave at the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula.

Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr was probably born in about 1512.  She was the daughter of Maude Green and Sir Thomas Parr, who died when Catherine was a young child. Not much is known about Catherine’s early life.

In 1529 Catherine married Edward Borough. He died in early 1533, they had no children.

In 1534 Catherine married the twice widowed and much older John Neville, Lord Latimer.

During the Pilgrimage of Grace in October 1536, John Neville tried to mediate between the rebels and the Crown.  In January 1537 Catherine and her two step-children were held hostage by the rebels at Snape Castle in Yorkshire. John Neville returned and managed to negotiate their safe release.

John Neville’s health deteriorated and Catherine nursed him until his death in London in 1543. In the same year Catherine became part of the household of Princess Mary.

At Court Catherine had met Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour and begun a romantic relationship with him. She was also noticed by King Henry.

On July 12th 1543 Catherine Parr married Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. Her motto was ‘To be useful in all that I do’.

Catherine had a harmonious relationship with Henry’s children Mary, Elizabeth and Edward.

In 1544 Henry made Catherine Regent while he was engaged in an unsuccessful campaign in France.

Catherine wrote two books on religious meditation. She engaged in religious discussion with her friends and with Henry. Catherine’s Protestant leanings made her enemies at Court including Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. He and his anti-Protestant allies tried to turn the King against Catherine and collected evidence for her arrest on charges of heresy.  Catherine had prior warning of their intentions and managed to reconcile with Henry. When an armed guard was sent to arrest her the following day, Henry sent them away.

At the end of his life Henry became ill and bad tempered. Catherine spent a lot of time trying to keep him in good humour. After Henry’s death Catherine became Queen Dowager and Henry’s financial provisions left her a wealthy woman.

In 1547 Catherine secretly married Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour. This caused much strife at Court as her official period of mourning had not ended and technically they should have asked permission to marry.
On the 30 August 1548 Catherine gave birth to a daughter, Mary. Catherine died six days later from puerperal fever. Catherine was buried at Sudeley Castle with Protestant rites.

Henry VIII and his Children

Henry had three children, with his wives, who survived into adulthood. As was customary, these children lived apart from their parents with their own separate households.


Mary was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon. Mary was intelligent and well-educated and Henry was fond of her. In 1528 Mary was given her own court at Ludlow Castle.

While Henry tried to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his relationship with Mary deteriorated. When Henry married Anne Boleyn, Princess Mary was declared illegitimate and became Lady Mary. Her own household was broken up and she was sent to live at Hatfield House with the Princess Elizabeth. Mary refused to acknowledge Elizabeth as Princess. Mary was frequently unwell and Henry had forbidden her to see her mother.

Mary reconciled with Henry and returned to Court after her father’s marriage to Jane Seymour.  Mary’s household was reinstated. Their relationship further improved with Henry’s marriage to Catherine Parr.  Mary was put back into the line of succession.


Henry had been disappointed if not furious when Elizabeth was born in 1533, purely because she had been born a girl. Princess Elizabeth was given her own household at Hatfield House.  Her first governess was Lady Margaret Bryan who had also cared for Princess Mary.

Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed when she was less than three years old and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and lost the title of Princess.

Elizabeth seems to have been forgotten after this as Lady Margaret Bryan wrote to Thomas Cromwell in 1536 to beg that he be good to her and to ask for several items of clothing for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth rarely saw her father Henry until 1543, when he married Catherine Parr. Catherine made sure that Elizabeth had a good education. Elizabeth was intelligent and very well educated, speaking several languages. Henry restored Elizabeth to the succession.


Edward was the longed for son and heir. Henry was delighted at the birth of his son. Edward’s mother, Jane Seymour, died twelve days after the birth.

Edward was given his own household, and Lady Margaret Bryan made his first governess. Henry lavished everything on his son, giving him splendid Royal apartments and taking special care over his security. Henry made sure that Edward had a good education. In his will Henry named sixteen executors who would form a Regency Council to rule until Edward turned 18.

Henry FitzRoy

Henry had at least one child with a mistress. How many illegitimate children Henry actually had is in dispute, as he only publically acknowledged Henry FitzRoy.

Henry was born in June 1519. His mother was Henry’s mistress Elizabeth Blount. Elizabeth was a Lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon.

Henry FitzRoy was publically acknowledged by Henry VIII when in 1525 he gave him the titles of Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset at a grand ceremony.

Contemporary accounts suggest that Henry took a lot of interest in Henry’s upbringing and that he was frequently at Court. King Henry also gave his son other titles including Lord High Admiral.

In November 1533 Henry FitzRoy married Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk.

In July 1536 Henry FitzRoy died at St James’s Palace. He was originally buried in Thetford Priory. His tomb is now in St Michael’s Church, Framlingham, Suffolk.

Foreign Policy

In the early years of Henry’s reign foreign policy was over seen by his Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Wolsey wanted to make England a major power in Europe. Henry also wanted to regain English territories in France.

The three main powers in Europe at this time were Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire. Scotland was an ally of France. The Pope was also a powerful figure in European politics.

Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon secured an alliance with Spain. In June 1513 Henry personally led an invasion of France. The French persuaded the Scots to invade England in support. The Scots were defeated at the Battle of Flodden and King James IV was killed. A peace treaty was negotiated in 1514. Henry’s sister Mary Tudor was to marry the French King Louis XII.

In 1518 Cardinal Wolsey negotiated the Treaty of London. This was an attempt to bring peace between all the major powers in Europe.

In 1520 Henry travelled to France to meet King Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. The personal rivalry between the two Kings was very obvious.

Henry allied with Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor who was also the King of Spain, against France.  Charles V was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon. Henry later pulled out of the war and Cardinal Wolsey negotiated the Treaty of the More with France in 1525.

Henry’s break from Rome had led to the possibility of a Catholic invasion of England. When Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor and King Francis I made peace, this made an invasion seem even more likely. Large sums of money were spent on a series of coastal fortifications and increasing the strength of the navy. In 1540 Henry married Anne of Cleves. This was a political match brought about by Thomas Cromwell. Its aim was to gain the Duke of Cleves as an ally in case the invasion occurred.

The Laws In Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542 saw English administration and laws introduced into Wales. Wales was now annexed to England.

The Irish Parliament gave Henry the title of King of Ireland.

Henry repeatedly went to war with Scotland over the next few years. Henry wanted his son Edward to marry the daughter of James V, Mary Queen of Scots. This is known as the ‘Rough Wooing’.

In 1544 Henry invaded France for the last time, again in alliance with Charles V. This was a very expensive war. Under the terms of the peace treaty negotiated in 1546 England would hold Boulogne for 8 years then return it to France. The Treaty also brought peace with Scotland.

Death and Legacy

Henry VIII died on the 28th January 1547.  He was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor next to his wife Jane Seymour.

At his death England had increased its political standing in Europe and was mostly at peace.

In his will Henry VIII named his son Edward as successor to the throne.  Henry also reinstated his two daughters Mary and Elizabeth in the line of succession. This gave them the right to claim the throne of England.
Henry VIII had brought about a break with the Pope in Rome to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn. With the Dissolution of the Monasteries Henry had gained more control over the Church. Henry himself was still a Catholic. However, by the end of his reign there were influential members at Court who supported the Protestant faith (evangelicals). It was during the reign of his son, Edward VI that efforts were made to establish a Protestant Church in England.

Henry VIII
Anne Boleyn Anne Boleyn
Mary I Mary I
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I
Edward VI Edward VI