King Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his six marriages, and his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) annulled. His disagreement with Pope Clement VII about such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority.
He appointed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated by the pope. Henry’s reign has been called the “Tudor Revolution” because of the significant political, religious, and social changes that took place during his time.
Henry was born at Greenwich Palace, the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. He became heir to the throne after the death of his older brother, Arthur, in 1502. Henry received a humanist education and was considered to be a gifted linguist and musician. In 1509, he succeeded his father to the throne at the age of 17.
Henry’s early reign was marked by military success. He led England to victory over France at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, and he captured Boulogne in 1544. However, Henry’s later years were marked by political and religious turmoil.
His desire to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon led to the English Reformation, which broke England away from the Catholic Church. Henry also dissolved the monasteries and convents in England, and he confiscated their lands. These actions made Henry very unpopular with many of his subjects.
Henry’s six marriages were a source of great controversy. He first married Catherine of Aragon in 1509. However, he later sought to annul the marriage because Catherine had not produced a male heir. When the pope refused to grant him an annulment, Henry broke away from the Catholic Church and declared himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. He then married Anne Boleyn in 1533. Anne was executed in 1536 on charges of adultery and treason. Henry then married Jane Seymour in 1536. Jane died in childbirth in 1537.
Henry then married Anne of Cleves in 1540. However, the marriage was annulled in 1540 because Henry found Anne unattractive. Henry then married Catherine Howard in 1540. Catherine was executed in 1542 on charges of adultery. Henry then married Catherine Parr in 1543. Catherine survived Henry and did not remarry.
Henry died in 1547 at the age of 55. He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Edward VI.