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Henry was crowned King of England in 1509.
His first wife was the Spanish Princess Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his elder brother Arthur. They had one surviving child, Mary Tudor, later Mary I of England.
Henry’s desire for a male heir led to him seeking a divorce from Catherine. When papal authority for a divorce was refused, Henry turned to the English Parliament.
In 1533 Thomas Cranmer the Archbishop of Canterbury declared Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be invalid.
This began the English Reformation as Parliament passed a series of Acts formally recognising Henry’s separation from the Church in Rome.
The 1534 Act of Supremacy made Henry VIII the Supreme Head of the Church of England.
There were, however, no fundamental changes to religious beliefs or Church practices during Henry’s reign.
The Acts led to the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 -1540 with all assets and income going to the Crown.
Aristocratic families gaining control of former monastic property increased their economic power and political influence.
The 1533 Act of Succession had formally legitimised the marriage between Henry and Anne Boleyn and made their children heirs to the throne.
In 1534 the King’s subjects had to swear an Oath of Allegiance “… to undertake and to fulfill all that is in the same Act…”. It was considered an act of treason to refuse.
Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor, refused to swear the oath and was executed.
Parliamentary authority had been used as a means of changing the religious establishment and the Royal succession.
Henry’s second marriage to Anne Boleyn produced another daughter Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I. Anne Boleyn was charged with treason and executed in 1536.
Henry’s third marriage was to Jane Seymour. In 1537 Jane gave birth to a son, Edward, later King Edward VI. Jane died 12 days after the birth.
Henry married three more times but no other children were born.
Henry VIII inherited a wealthy nation but his reign was one of high expenditure. His foreign policy led to wars with Scotland and France.
There was the threat of invasion, particularly after Henry’s break with Rome. Large sums of money were spent on coastal fortifications and increasing the strength of the navy.
These were financed with income from the dissolution of the monasteries, taxes, loans and the debasement of the currency. By the end of Henry’s reign England was in a period of high inflation.
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.