, and later King
, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim
by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France. Henry was the second monarch of the House of Tudor, succeeding his father, Henry VII
Besides his six marriages, Henry VIII is known for his role in the separation of the Church of England
from the Roman Catholic Church.
1501 Catherine of Aragon (later Henry VIII's first wife) meets Arthur Tudor, Henry VIII's older brother – they would later marry.
1509 Henry VIII ascends the throne of England on the death of his father, Henry VII.
1509 Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.
1509 Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon are crowned King and Queen of England.
1510 Henry VIII of England, then 18 years old, appears incognito in the lists at Richmond, and is applauded for his jousting before he reveals his identity.
1513 Edmund de la Pole, Yorkist pretender to the English throne, is executed on the orders of Henry VIII.
1531 Henry VIII of England is recognized as supreme head of the Church of England.
1532 Henry VIII and François I sign a secret treaty against Emperor Charles V.
1532 Lady Anne Boleyn is made Marchioness of Pembroke by her fiancé, King Henry VIII of England.
1533 Henry VIII of England secretly marries his second wife Anne Boleyn.
, and later King
, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim
by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France. Henry was the second monarch of the House of Tudor, succeeding his father, Henry VII
Besides his six marriages, Henry VIII is known for his role in the separation of the Church of England
from the Roman Catholic Church. Henry's struggles with Rome led to the separation of the Church of England from papal authority, the Dissolution of the Monasteries
, and establishing himself as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Yet he remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings, even after his excommunication from the Catholic Church. Henry oversaw the legal union of England and Wales
with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–42.
Henry was known by some to be an attractive and charismatic man in his prime, educated and accomplished. He was an author and a composer. He ruled with absolute power. His desire to provide England with a male heir—which stemmed partly from personal vanity and partly because he believed a daughter would be unable to consolidate the Tudor Dynasty
and the fragile peace that existed following the Wars of the Roses
—led to the two things that Henry is remembered for: his wives
, and the English Reformation
that made England a mostly Protestant nation. In later life he became morbidly obese and his health suffered; his public image is frequently depicted as one of a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king.
Early years: 1491–1509Born at Greenwich Palace, Henry VIII was the third child of Henry VII
and Elizabeth of York
. Of the young Henry's six siblings, only three – Arthur, Prince of Wales
; and Mary
– survived infancy. In 1493, at the age of two, Henry was appointed Constable of Dover Castle
and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
. In 1494, he was made Duke of York
. He was subsequently appointed Earl Marshal
of England and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
. Henry was given a first-rate education from leading tutors, becoming fluent in Latin, French, and Spanish. As it was expected that the throne would pass to Prince Arthur, Henry's older brother, Henry was prepared for a clerical career. Elizabeth of York, his mother, died when Henry was aged 11.
Death of Prince Arthur
, youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon
and Queen Isabella I of Castile
. For the new Prince of Wales to marry his brother's widow, a dispensation from the Pope was normally required to overrule the impediment of affinity
because, as told in the Book of Leviticus, "If a brother is to marry the wife of a brother they will remain childless." Catherine swore that her marriage to Prince Arthur had not been consummated. Still, both the English and Spanish parties agreed that an additional papal dispensation of affinity would be prudent to remove all doubt regarding the legitimacy of the marriage.
The impatience of Catherine's mother, Queen Isabella I, induced Pope Julius II
to grant dispensation in the form of a Papal bull
. So, 14 months after her young husband's death, Catherine was betrothed to his even younger brother, Henry. Yet by 1505, Henry VII lost interest in a Spanish alliance and the younger Henry declared that his betrothal had been arranged without his consent.
Continued diplomatic manoeuvring over the fate of the proposed marriage lingered until the death of Henry VII in 1509. Only 17 years old, Henry married Catherine on 11 June 1509 and, on 24 June 1509, the two were crowned at Westminster Abbey
Early reign: 1509–1525Two days after his coronation, he arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson
and Edmund Dudley
(grandfather of Henry's daughter Elizabeth's favourite courtier, Robert Dudley
). They were charged with high treason
and were executed in 1510. This was to become Henry's primary tactic for dealing with those who stood in his way, as believed by historians such as Crofton. Henry also returned to the public some of the money supposedly extorted by the two ministers.
and his court was a centre of scholarly and artistic innovation and glamorous excess, epitomised by the Field of the Cloth of Gold
. He was an accomplished musician, author, and poet. His best known musical composition is "Pastime with Good Company
" or "The Kynges Ballade". He was an avid gambler and dice
player, and excelled at sports, especially jousting
, hunting, and real tennis
. He was known for his strong defence of conventional Christian piety. Meeting Francis I
on 7 June 1520 near Calais
, he entertained the French king with a fortnight of lavish entertainment to establish a closer diplomatic relationship after the military conflicts of the previous decade.
France and the Habsburgs
proclaimed a Holy League against France
. The new alliance rapidly grew to include not only Spain and the Holy Roman Empire
but England as well. Henry decided to use the occasion to expand his holdings in northern France. He concluded the Treaty of Westminster, a pledge of mutual aid with Spain against France, in November 1511 and prepared for involvement in the War of the League of Cambrai
In 1513, Henry invaded France and his troops defeated a French army at the Battle of the Spurs
. His brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland
, invaded England at the behest of Louis XII of France
, but failed to draw Henry's attention away from France. The English army, led by Queen Catherine, who acted as regent of England while Henry was in France, defeated the Scots at the Battle of Flodden on 9 September 1513. Among the dead was the Scottish King James IV, ending Scotland's brief involvement in the war.
On 18 February 1516, Queen Catherine bore Henry his first child to survive infancy, Princess Mary
. (A son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall
, had been born in 1511 but lived only a few weeks.)
Government and finances under HenryFinancially, the reign of Henry was a near-disaster. Although he inherited a prosperous economy (and further augmented his royal treasury by seizures of church lands), Henry's heavy spending and high taxes damaged the economy. For example, Henry expanded the Royal Navy from 5 to 53 ships. He loved palaces; he began with a dozen and died with fifty-five, in which he hung 2,000 tapestries. By comparison, his neighbour and nephew James V of Scotland
had five palaces and 200 tapestries
. He took pride in showing off his collection of weapons, which included exotic archery equipment, 2,250 pieces of land ordinance and 6,500 handguns.
Henry began his reign with heavy reliance on advisors and ended with complete control. From 1514 to 1529, Thomas Wolsey (1473–1530), a Catholic cardinal, served as lord chancellor and practically controlled domestic and foreign policy for the young king. He negotiated the truce with France that was signalled by the dramatic display of amity on the Field of the Cloth of Gold
(1520). He switched England back and forth as an ally of France and the Holy Roman Empire. Wolsey centralised the national government and extended the jurisdiction of the conciliar courts, particularly the Star Chamber
. His use of forced loans to pay for foreign wars angered the rich, who were annoyed as well by his enormous wealth and ostentatious living. Wolsey disappointed the king when he failed to secure a quick divorce from Queen Catherine. The treasury was empty after years of extravagance; the peers and people were dissatisfied and Henry needed an entirely new approach; Wolsey had to be replaced. After 16 years at the top he lost power in 1529 and in 1530 was arrested on false charges of treason and died in custody. Wolsey's fall was a warning to the Pope and to the clergy of England of what might be expected for failure to comply with the king's wishes. Henry then took full control of his government, although at court numerous complex factions continued to try to ruin and destroy each other.
Elton (1962) argues there was a major Tudor revolution in government. While crediting Henry with intelligence and shrewdness, Elton finds that much of the positive action, especially the break with Rome, was the work of Thomas Cromwell and not the king. Elton sees Henry as competent, but too lazy to take direct control of affairs for any extended period; that is, the king was an opportunist who relied on others for most of his ideas and to do most of the work. Henry's marital adventures are part of Elton's chain of evidence; a man who marries six wives, Elton notes, is not someone who fully controls his own fate. Elton shows that Thomas Cromwell had conceived of a commonwealth of England that included popular participation through Parliament and that this was generally expressed in the preambles to legislation. Parliamentary consent did not mean that the king had yielded any of his authority; Henry VIII was a paternalistic ruler who did not hesitate to use his power. Popular "consent" was a means to augment rather than limit royal power.
ReformationHenry never formally repudiated the doctrines of the Catholic Church, but he declared himself supreme head
of the church in England in 1534. This, combined with subsequent actions, eventually resulted in a separated church, the Church of England. Henry and his advisors felt the pope was acting in the role of an Italian prince involved in secular affairs, which obscured his religious role. They said Rome treated England as a minor stepchild, allowing it one cardinal out of fifty, and no possibility of that cardinal becoming pope. For reasons of state it was increasingly intolerable to Henry that major decisions in England were settled by Italians. The divorce issue exemplified the problem but was not itself the cause of the problem.
Henry's reformation of the English church involved more complex motives and methods than his desire for a new wife and an heir. Henry asserted that his first marriage had never been valid, but the divorce issue was only one factor in Henry's desire to reform the church. In 1532–37, he instituted a number of statutes – the act of appeal (Statute in Restraint of Appeals
, 1533), the various Acts of Succession
(1533, 1534, and 1536), the first Act of Supremacy (1534), and others – that dealt with the relationship between the king and the pope and the structure of the Church of England. During these years, Henry suppressed monasteries and pilgrimage shrines in his attempt to reform the church. The king was always the dominant force in the making of religious policy; his policy, which he pursued skilfully and consistently, is best characterised as a search for the middle way.
Questions over what was the true faith were resolved with the adoption of the orthodox "Act of Six Articles" (1539) and a careful holding of the balance between extreme factions after 1540. Even so, the era saw movement away from religious orthodoxy, the more so as the pillars of the old beliefs, especially Thomas More
and John Fisher
, had been unable to accept the change and had been executed in 1535 for refusing to renounce papal authority. Critical for the Henrician reformation was the new political theology of obedience to the prince that was enthusiastically adopted by the Church of England in the 1530s. It reflected Martin Luther
's new interpretation of the fourth commandment ("Honor thy father and mother") and was mediated to an English audience by William Tyndale
. The founding of royal authority on the Ten Commandments
, and thus on the word of God, was a particularly attractive feature of this doctrine, which became a defining feature of Henrician religion. Rival tendencies within the Church of England sought to exploit it in the pursuit of their particular agendas. Reformers strove to preserve its connections with the broader framework of Lutheran theology, with the emphasis on faith alone and the word of God, while conservatives emphasised good works, ceremonies, and charity. The Reformers linked royal supremacy and the word of God to persuade Henry to publish the Great Bible
in 1539, an English translation that was a formidable prop for his new-found dignity.
Response to the reforms was mixed. The reforms, which closed down monasteries that were the only support of the impoverished, alienated most of the population outside of London and helped provoke the great northern rising of 1536–37, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace
. It was the only real threat to Henry's security on the throne in all his reign. Some 30,000 rebels in nine groups were led by the charismatic Robert Aske
, together with most of the northern nobility. Aske went to London to negotiate terms; once there he was arrested, charged with treason and executed. About 200 rebels were executed and the disturbances ended. Elsewhere the changes were accepted and welcomed, and those who clung to Catholic rites kept quiet or moved in secrecy. They would reemerge in the reign of Henry's daughter Mary
Dissolving the monasteriesEngland possessed numerous religious houses that owned large tracts of land worked by tenants. Henry dissolved them (1536–1541) and transferred a fifth of England's landed wealth to new hands. The program was designed primarily to create a landed gentry beholden to the crown, which would use the lands much more efficiently.
Henry made radical changes in traditional religious practices. He ordered the clergy to preach against superstitious images, relics, miracles, and pilgrimages, and to remove most candles. The catechism
of 1545, called the King's Primer, left out the saints. Latin rituals gave way to English. Shrines to saints were destroyed – including the popular one of St. Thomas of Canterbury – and relics were ridiculed as worthless old bones.
MistressesContrary to popular belief, Henry may not have had very many affairs outside marriage. Apart from women he later married, the identities of only two mistresses are completely undisputed: Elizabeth Blount
and Mary Boleyn
. However, it is unlikely that they were the only two; Alison Weir has argued that, aside from the affairs listed below, there were numerous other short-term and secret liaisons, most of them conducted in the king's river-side mansion of Jordan House.
Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount
gave birth in June 1519 to Henry's illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy
. The young boy was made Duke of Richmond in June 1525 in what some thought was one step on the path to legitimising him. In 1533, FitzRoy married Mary Howard, Anne Boleyn's first cousin, but died three years later without any children. At the time of FitzRoy's death (July 1536), Parliament was enacting the Second Succession Act
, which could have allowed Henry's illegitimate son to become king.
was Henry's mistress before her sister, Anne
, became his second wife. She is thought to have been Catherine's
at some point between 1519 and 1526. There has been speculation that Mary's two children, Catherine
, were fathered by Henry, but this has never been proved and the King never acknowledged them as he did Henry FitzRoy.
In 1510 it was reported that Henry was conducting an affair with one of the sisters of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham
, either Elizabeth or Anne Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon
. Her brother, the Duke of Buckingham
, became enraged and Lord George Hastings
, her husband, sent her to a convent. Eustace Chapuys
wrote, "the husband of that lady went away, carried her off and placed her in a convent sixty miles from here, that no one may see her.".
Biographer Antonia Fraser
has claimed that Henry had an affair with Mary Shelton in 1535, in opposition to the traditional belief that Margaret ("Madge") Shelton was Henry's lover.
King's Great Matter: 1525–1533Henry became impatient with Catherine's inability to produce the heir he desired. All of Catherine's children died in infancy except their daughter Mary
. Henry wanted a male heir to consolidate the power of the Tudor dynasty.
In 1525, as Henry grew more impatient, he became enamoured of a charismatic young woman in the Queen's entourage, Anne Boleyn. Anne at first resisted his attempts to seduce her, and refused to become his mistress as her sister Mary Boleyn had. She said "I beseech your highness most earnestly to desist, and to this my answer in good part. I would rather lose my life than my honesty." This refusal made Henry even more attracted, and he pursued her relentlessly.
Eventually, Anne saw her opportunity in Henry's infatuation and determined she would only yield to his embraces as his acknowledged queen. It soon became the King's absorbing desire to annul his marriage to Catherine.
Henry appealed directly to the Holy See
, independently from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, from whom he kept his plans for Anne secret. Instead, Henry's secretary, William Knight, was sent to Pope Clement VII
to sue for the annulment. The grounds were that the bull
of Pope Julius II
was obtained by false pretences, because Catherine's brief marriage to the sickly Arthur had been consummated. Henry petitioned, in the event of annulment, a dispensation to marry again to any woman even in the first degree of affinity, whether the affinity was contracted by lawful or unlawful connection. This clearly had reference to Anne.
, Knight had difficulty in getting access to him, and so only managed to obtain the conditional dispensation for a new marriage. Henry now had no choice but to put the matter into the hands of Wolsey. Wolsey did all he could to secure a decision in the King's favour, going so far as to arrange an ecclesiastical court to meet in England, with a representative from the Pope. Shakespeare's play, Henry VIII
, accurately records Catherine of Aragon's astounding coup in that remarkable courtroom in Act II, scene iv. She bows low to Henry, put herself at his mercy, states her case with irrefutable eloquence and then sweeps out of the courtroom, a woman both formidable and clearly wronged. However much this moment swayed those present and the rest of the world to her side, the Pope had never had any intention of empowering his legate. Charles V resisted the annulment of his aunt's marriage, but it is not clear how far this influenced the pope. But it is clear that Henry saw that the Pope was unlikely to give him an annulment from the Emperor's aunt. The pope forbade Henry to proceed to a new marriage before a decision was given in Rome, not in England. Wolsey bore the blame. Convinced that he was treacherous, Anne Boleyn maintained pressure until Wolsey was dismissed from public office in 1529. After being dismissed, the cardinal begged her to help him return to power, but she refused. He then began a plot to have Anne forced into exile and began communication with Queen Catherine and the Pope to that end. When this was discovered, Henry ordered Wolsey's arrest and had it not been for his death from illness in 1530, he might have been executed for treason
. His replacement, Sir Thomas More
, initially cooperated with the king's new policy, denouncing Wolsey in Parliament and proclaiming the opinion of the theologians at Oxford and Cambridge that the marriage of Henry to Catherine had been unlawful. As Henry began to deny the authority of the Pope, More's qualms grew.
A year later, Queen Catherine was banished from court and her rooms were given to Anne. With Wolsey gone, Anne had considerable power over political matters. She was an unusually educated and intellectual woman for her time, and was keenly absorbed and engaged with the ideas of the Protestant Reformers. When Archbishop of Canterbury
died, Anne had the Boleyn family's chaplain, Thomas Cranmer
, appointed to the vacant position. Through the intervention of the King of France, this was conceded by Rome, the pallium
being granted to him by Clement.
Breaking the power of Rome in England proceeded slowly. In 1532, a lawyer who was a supporter of Anne, Thomas Cromwell
, brought before Parliament a number of acts including the Supplication against the Ordinaries
and the Submission of the Clergy
, which recognised Royal Supremacy
over the church. Following these acts, Thomas More
resigned as Chancellor, leaving Cromwell as Henry's chief minister.
in which he enlisted the support of the French king for his new marriage. Immediately upon returning to Dover
in England, Henry and Anne went through a secret wedding service. She soon became pregnant and there was a second wedding service in London on 25 January 1533. On 23 May 1533, Cranmer, sitting in judgment at a special court convened at Dunstable Priory
to rule on the validity of the king's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, declared the marriage of Henry and Catherine null and void. Five days later, on 28 May 1533, Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry and Anne to be valid.
Catherine was formally stripped of her title as queen, and Anne was crowned queen consort on 1 June 1533. The queen gave birth to a daughter slightly prematurely on 7 September 1533. The child was christened Elizabeth
, in honour of Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York
. Rejecting the decisions of the Pope, Parliament validated the marriage of Henry and Anne with the First Succession Act (Act of Succession 1533). Catherine's daughter, Mary, was declared illegitimate, and Anne's issue
were declared next in the line of succession. Most notable in this declaration was a clause repudiating "any foreign authority, prince or potentate". All adults in the Kingdom were required to acknowledge the Act's provisions by oath; those who refused were subject to imprisonment for life. Any publisher or printer of any literature alleging that the marriage was invalid was automatically guilty of high treason and could be punished by death.
Separation from Rome: 1533–1540Meanwhile, Parliament had forbidden all appeals to Rome
and exacted the penalties of praemunire
against all who introduced papal bulls into England. Parliament prohibited the Church from making any regulations (canons) without the king's consent. It was only then that Pope Clement at last took the step of launching sentences of excommunication
against Henry and Thomas Cranmer
, declaring at the same time the archbishop's decree of annulment to be invalid and the marriage with Anne null and papal nuncio
was withdrawn from England and diplomatic relations with Rome were broken off. Several more laws were passed in England. The Ecclesiastical Appointments Act 1534 required the clergy to elect bishops nominated by the Sovereign. The Act of Supremacy in 1534 declared that the King was "the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England" and the Treasons Act 1534
made it high treason, punishable by death
, to refuse to acknowledge the King as such. In response to the excommunications, the Peter's Pence Act
was passed in and it reiterated that England had "no superior under God, but only your Grace" and that Henry's "imperial crown" had been diminished by "the unreasonable and uncharitable usurpations and exactions" of the Pope.
In defiance of the Pope the Church of England
was now under Henry’s control, not Rome's. Protestant Reformers still faced persecution, particularly over objections to Henry's annulment. Many fled abroad where they met further difficulties, including the influential William Tyndale
, who was eventually executed and his body burned at King Henry's behest. Theological and practical reforms would follow only under Henry's successors (see end of section).
Personal troublesThe king and queen were not pleased with married life. The royal couple enjoyed periods of calm and affection, but Anne refused to play the submissive role expected of her. The vivacity and opinionated intellect that had made her so attractive as an illicit lover made her too independent for the largely ceremonial role of a royal wife, given that Henry expected absolute obedience from those who interacted with him in an official capacity at court. It made her many enemies. For his part, Henry disliked Anne’s constant irritability and violent temper. After a false pregnancy
in 1534, he saw her failure to give him a son as a betrayal. As early as Christmas 1534, Henry was discussing with Cranmer and Cromwell the chances of leaving Anne without having to return to Catherine.
, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More
, Henry's former Lord Chancellor
, both of whom refused to take the oath to the King and were subsequently convicted of high treason and beheaded at Tower Hill, just outside the Tower of London
These suppressions, including the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries Act
of 1536, in turn contributed to further resistance among the English people, most notably in the Pilgrimage of Grace
, a large uprising in northern England in October, 1536. Henry VIII promised the rebels he would pardon them and thanked them for raising the issues to his attention, then invited the rebel leader, Robert Aske
to a royal banquet. At the banquet, Henry asked Aske to write down what had happened so he could have a better idea of the problems he would "change." Aske did what the King asked, although what he had written was later used against him as a confession. The King's word could not be questioned (as he was held as God's chosen, and second only to God himself) so Aske told the rebels they had been successful and they could disperse and go home. However, because Henry saw the rebels as traitors, he did not feel obliged to keep his promises. The rebels realised that the King was not keeping his promises and rebelled again later that year, but their strength was less in the second attempt and the King ordered the rebellion crushed. The leaders, including Aske, were arrested and executed for treason.
Execution of Anne Boleyn
a male child that was about 15 weeks old, on the day of Catherine’s funeral, 29 January 1536. For most observers, this personal loss was the beginning of the end of the royal marriage.
Given the King's desperate desire for a son, the sequence of Anne's pregnancies has attracted much interest. Author Mike Ashley speculated that Anne had two stillborn children after Elizabeth's birth and before the birth of the male child she miscarried in 1536. Most sources attest only to the birth of Elizabeth in September 1533, a possible miscarriage in the summer of 1534, and the miscarriage of a male child, of almost four months gestation, in January 1536. As Anne recovered from her final miscarriage, Henry declared that his marriage had been the product of witchcraft. The King's new mistress, Jane Seymour
, was quickly moved into new quarters. This was followed by Anne's brother, George Boleyn
, being refused a prestigious court honour, the Order of the Garter
, which was instead given to Jane Seymour's brother.
Five men, including Anne's own brother, were arrested on charges of incest
, accused of having sexual relationships with the queen. On 2 May 1536 Anne was arrested and taken to the Tower of London
. She was accused of adultery, incest and high treason
. Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death by the peers
. George Boleyn and the other accused men were executed on 17 May 1536. At 8 am on 19 May 1536, the queen was executed on Tower Green
. She knelt upright, in the French style of executions. The execution was swift and consisted of a single stroke.
Birth of a prince
, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting to whom the king had been showing favour for some time. They were married 10 days later. At about the same time as this, his third marriage, Henry granted his assent to the Laws in Wales Act 1535
, which legally annexed Wales
, uniting England and Wales into one unified nation. This was followed by the Second Succession Act
(Act of Succession 1536), which declared Henry's children by Queen Jane
to be next in the line of succession and declared both the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth illegitimate, thus excluding them from the throne
. The king was granted the power
to further determine the line of succession in his will
. In 1537, Jane gave birth to a son, Prince Edward
, the future Edward VI. The birth was difficult and the queen died at Hampton Court Palace
on 24 October 1537 from an infection. After Jane's death, the entire court mourned with Henry for an extended period. Henry considered Jane to be his "true" wife, being the only one who had given him the male heir he so desperately sought. He was later to be buried next to her at his death.
Final years: 1540–1547In 1540, Henry sanctioned the destruction of shrines to saints. At this time, Henry desired to marry once again to ensure the succession. Thomas Cromwell
, created Earl of Essex, suggested Anne
, the sister of the Protestant Duke of Cleves, who was seen as an important ally in case of a Roman Catholic attack on England. Hans Holbein the Younger
was dispatched to Cleves to paint a portrait of Anne for the king. Although it has been said that he painted her in a more flattering light, it is unlikely that the portrait was highly inaccurate, since Holbein remained in favour at court. After regarding Holbein's portrayal, and urged by the complimentary description of Anne given by his courtiers, Henry agreed to wed Anne. On Anne's arrival in England, Henry is said to have found her utterly unattractive, privately calling her a "Flanders Mare".
, with whom Henry had no desire to quarrel. Queen Anne was intelligent enough not to impede Henry's quest for an annulment. Upon the question of marital sex, she testified that her marriage had never been consummated. Henry was said to have come into the room each night and merely kissed his new bride on the forehead before retiring. All impediments to an annulment were thus removed.
The marriage was subsequently dissolved and Anne received the title of "The King's Sister", and was granted Hever Castle
, the former residence of the Boleyn family. Cromwell
, meanwhile, fell out of favour for his role in arranging the marriage and was subsequently attainted
and beheaded. The office of Vicegerent
in Spirituals, which had been specifically created for him, was not filled.
, Anne Boleyn's first cousin and a lady-in-waiting of Anne's. He was absolutely delighted with his new queen. Soon after her marriage, however, Queen Catherine had an affair with the courtier Thomas Culpeper
. She employed Francis Dereham
, who was previously informally engaged to her and had an affair with her prior to her marriage, as her secretary. Thomas Cranmer
, who was opposed to the powerful Roman Catholic Howard family, brought evidence of Queen Catherine's activities to the king's notice. Though Henry originally refused to believe the allegations, he allowed Cranmer to conduct an investigation, which resulted in Queen Catherine's implication. When questioned, the queen could have admitted a prior contract to marry Dereham, which would have made her subsequent marriage to Henry invalid, but she instead claimed that Dereham had forced her to enter into an adulterous relationship. Dereham, meanwhile, exposed Queen Catherine's relationship with Thomas Culpeper. Catherine was executed on 13 February 1542. She was aged between 17 and 22 when she died (opinions differ as to her year of birth). That same year, England's remaining monasteries were all dissolved, and their property transferred to the Crown. Abbot
s and prior
s lost their seats in the House of Lords
; only archbishops and bishops came to comprise the ecclesiastical element of the body. The Lords Spiritual
, as members of the clergy with seats in the House of Lords
were known, were for the first time outnumbered by the Lords Temporal.
, in 1543. She argued with Henry over religion; she was a reformer, but Henry remained a conservative. This behaviour nearly proved her undoing, but she saved herself by a show of submissiveness. She helped reconcile Henry with his first two daughters, the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth. In 1544, an Act of Parliament put the daughters back in the line of succession after Edward, Prince of Wales, though they were still deemed illegitimate. The same act allowed Henry to determine further succession to the throne in his will.
A wave of political executions that commenced with Edmund de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk
in 1513 ended with Henry Earl of Surrey
in January, 1547. Although some sources claim that, according to Holinshed, the number of executions in this reign amounted to 72,000, the figure referred to "great thieves, petty thieves, and rogues," and the source is not Holinshed but the English clergyman William Harrison
. This inflated figure came from Gerolamo Cardano
who in turn got it from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Lisieux.
Death and successionLate in life, Henry became obese (with a waist measurement of 54 inches/137 cm) and had to be moved about with the help of mechanical inventions. He was covered with painful, pus-filled boils and possibly suffered from gout
. His obesity and other medical problems can be traced from a jousting
accident in 1536 in which he suffered a leg wound. The accident actually re-opened and aggravated a previous leg wound he had sustained years earlier, to the extent that his doctors found it difficult (if not impossible) to treat it. The wound festered for the remainder of his life and became ulcerated, thus preventing him from maintaining the same level of physical activity and daily exercise that he had previously enjoyed. The jousting accident is believed to have caused in Henry mood swings, which may have had a dramatic effect on his personality and temperament. Concurrently, Henry developed a binge-eating habit, consisting of a diet of mainly fatty red meats and few vegetables. It is believed that this habit was used as a coping mechanism for stress. Henry's obesity undoubtedly hastened his death at the age of 55, which occurred on 28 January 1547 in the Palace of Whitehall
, on what would have been his father's 90th birthday. He expired soon after allegedly uttering these last words: "Monks! Monks! Monks!"
The theory that Henry suffered from syphilis
has been dismissed by most serious historians. Syphilis was a well-known disease in Henry's time, and although his contemporary Francis I of France
was treated for it, the notes left from Henry's physicians do not indicate that the English king was. A more recent and credible theory suggests that Henry's medical symptoms, and those of his older sister Margaret Tudor
, are characteristic of untreated Type II diabetes.
and suffered from McLeod syndrome
in Windsor Castle
, next to his wife Jane Seymour.
Over a hundred years later Charles I
was buried in the same vault.
Within a little more than a decade after his death, all three of his royal heirs sat on the English throne, but none of the three left any descendants. Under the Act of Succession 1543
, Henry's only surviving legitimate son, Edward, inherited the Crown, becoming Edward VI
. Since Edward was only nine years old at the time, he could not exercise actual power. Henry's will designated 16 executor
s to serve on a council of regency until Edward reached the age of 18. The executors chose Edward Seymour, 1st Earl of Hertford
, Jane Seymour's elder brother, to be Lord Protector
of the Realm. In default of heirs to Edward, the throne was to pass to Henry VIII's daughter by Catherine of Aragon, the Princess Mary
, and her heirs. If Mary's issue failed, the crown was to go to Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn, Princess Elizabeth
, and her heirs. Finally, if Elizabeth's line became extinct, the crown was to be inherited by the descendants of Henry VIII's deceased younger sister, Mary. The descendants of Henry's sister Margaret Tudor
—the royal family of Scotland
—were therefore excluded from succession according to this act. This final provision failed when James VI of Scotland subsequently became James I of England
upon Elizabeth's death.
Public image and memoryHenry worked hard to present an image of unchallengeable authority and irresistible power. He executed at will, beheading, often in public, more English notables than any monarch before or since. The roll of heads included two wives, twenty peers, four leading public servants, and six of the king's close attendants and friends, not to mention one cardinal and various heads of monasteries. In addition Cardinal Wolsey died en route to his treason trial.
A big, strong man (over six feet tall and broad in proportion), he excelled at jousting and hunting. More than pastimes, they were political devices that served multiple goals, from enhancing his athletic royal image to impressing foreign emissaries and rulers, to conveying Henry's ability to suppress any rebellion. Thus he arranged a jousting tournament at Greenwich in 1517, where he wore gilded armour, gilded horse trappings, and outfits of velvet, satin and cloth of gold dripping with pearls and jewels. It suitably impressed foreign ambassadors, one of whom wrote home that, "The wealth and civilisation of the world are here, and those who call the English barbarians appear to me to render themselves such." Henry finally retired from the lists in 1536 after a heavy fall from his horse left him unconscious for two hours, but he continued to sponsor two lavish tournaments a year. He then started adding weight and lost that trim athletic look that had made him so handsome; Henry's courtiers began dressing in heavily padded clothes to emulate—and flatter—their increasingly stout monarch. Towards the end of his reign his health rapidly declined due to unhealthy eating.
Henry was an intellectual. The first English king with a modern humanist education, who read and wrote English, French, Latin and was thoroughly at home in his well-stocked library; he personally annotated many books and wrote and published his own book. He is also said to have written Helas madam
. He founded Christ Church Cathedral School
, Oxford, in 1546. To promote the public support for the reformation of the church, Henry had numerous pamphlets and lectures prepared. For example, Richard Sampson's Oratio (1534) was a legalistic argument for absolute obedience to the temporal power as vested in divine law and Christian love ("obey my commandments"). Sampson cited historical precedents (now known to be spurious) to support his claim that the English church had always been independent from Rome.
At the popular level theatre and minstrel troupes funded by the crown travelled around the land to promote the new religious practices and ridicule the old. In the polemical plays they presented, the pope and Catholic priests and monks were mocked as foreign devils, while the glorious king was hailed as a brave and heroic defender of the true faith.
Henry VIII was an avid gambler and dice
player. He was an accomplished musician, author, and poet; his best known piece of music is "Pastime with Good Company
" ("The Kynges Ballade"). He is often reputed to have written "Greensleeves
" but probably did not. The King was involved in the original construction and improvement of several significant buildings, including Nonsuch Palace
, King's College Chapel, Cambridge
and Westminster Abbey
in London. Many of the existing buildings Henry improved were properties confiscated from Wolsey, such as Christ Church, Oxford
, Hampton Court Palace
, the Palace of Whitehall
, and Trinity College, Cambridge
The only surviving piece of clothing worn by Henry VIII is a cap of maintenance
awarded to the Mayor of Waterford
, along with a bearing sword, in 1536. It currently resides in the Waterford Museum of Treasures
. A suit of Henry's armour is on display in the Tower of London. In the centuries since his death, Henry has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works
Royal financesHenry inherited a vast fortune from his father Henry VII
who had, in contrast to his son, been frugal and careful with money. This fortune was estimated to £1,250,000 (£375 million by today's standards). Much of this wealth was spent by Henry on maintaining his court and household, including many of the building works he undertook on royal palaces. Tudor monarchs had to fund all the expenses of government out of their own income. This income came from the Crown lands that Henry owned as well as from customs duties like tonnage and poundage
, granted by parliament to the king for life. During Henry's reign the revenues of the Crown remained constant (around £100,000), but were eroded by inflation and rising prices brought about by war. Indeed it was war and Henry's dynastic ambitions in Europe that meant that the surplus he had inherited from his father was exhausted by the mid-1520s. Whereas Henry VII had not involved Parliament in his affairs very much, Henry VIII had to turn to Parliament during his reign for money, in particular for grants of subsidies to fund his wars. The Dissolution of the Monasteries provided a means to replenish the treasury and as a result the Crown took possession of monastic lands worth £120,000 (£36 million) a year. But Henry had to debase the coinage in 1526 and 1539 in order to solve his financial problems, and despite his ministers efforts to reduce costs and waste at court, Henry died in debt.
LegacyThough mainly motivated by dynastic and personal concerns, and despite never really abandoning the fundamentals of the Catholic Church, Henry ensured that the greatest act of his reign would be one of the most radical and decisive of any English monarch. His break with Rome in 1533–34 was an act with enormous consequences for the subsequent course of English history beyond the Tudor dynasty
. Not only in making possible the transformation of England into a powerful (albeit very distinctive) nation; but in the seizing of economic and political power from the Church by the aristocracy, chiefly through the acquisition of monastic lands and assets – a short-term strategy with long-term social consequences. Henry's decision to entrust the regency of his son Edward's minor years to a decidedly reform-oriented regency council, dominated by Edward Seymour, most likely for the simple tactical reason that Seymour seemed likely to provide the strongest leadership for the kingdom, ensured that the English Reformation would be consolidated and even furthered during his son's reign. Such ironies marked other aspects of his legacy.
Scarisbrick (1968) concludes that Henry was a formidable, captivating man who "wore regality with a splendid conviction." But unpredictably his overpowering charm could turn into anger and shouting, for he was high-strung and unstable; hypochondriac and possessed of a strong streak of cruelty. Smith (1971) considered him an egotistical border-line neurotic given to great fits of temper and deep and dangerous suspicions, with a mechanical and conventional, but deeply held piety, having at best "a mediocre intellect" to hold these contradictory forces in harness.
English navyTogether with Alfred the Great
and Charles II
, Henry is traditionally cited as one of the founders of the Royal Navy
. His reign featured some naval warfare and, more significantly, large royal investment in shipbuilding (including a few spectacular great ships such as Mary Rose
), dockyards (such as HMNB Portsmouth
) and naval innovations (such as the use of cannon
on board ship – although archers
were still deployed on medieval-style forecastle
s and bowcastles as the ship's primary armament on large ships, or co-armament where cannon were used). However, in some ways this is a misconception since Henry did not bequeath to his immediate successors a navy in the sense of a formalised organisation with structures, ranks, and formalised munitioning structures but only in the sense of a set of ships. Elizabeth I
still had to cobble together a set of privately owned ships to fight off the Spanish Armada
(which consisted of about 130 warships and converted merchant ships) and in the former, formal sense the modern British navy, the Royal Navy
, is largely a product of the Anglo-Dutch naval rivalry of the 17th century. Still, Henry's reign marked the birth of English naval power and was a key factor in England's later victory over the Spanish Armada.
Henry's break with Rome incurred the threat of a large-scale French or Spanish invasion. To guard against this he strengthened existing coastal defence fortresses such as Dover Castle
and, at Dover, Moat Bulwark and Archcliffe Fort, which he personally visited for a few months to supervise. He built a chain of new 'castles' (in fact, large bastioned and garrisoned gun batteries) along Britain's southern and eastern coasts from East Anglia
, largely built of material gained from the demolition of the monasteries
. These were known as Henry VIII's Device Forts
Style and armsMany changes were made to the royal style during his reign. Henry originally used the style "Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England, France and Lord of Ireland". In 1521, pursuant to a grant from Pope Leo X
rewarding a book by Henry, the Defence of the Seven Sacraments
, attacking Martin Luther, the royal style became "Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith
and Lord of Ireland". Following Henry's excommunication, Pope Paul III
rescinded the grant of the title "Defender of the Faith", but an Act of Parliament
declared that it remained valid; and it continues in royal usage to the present day.
In 1535, Henry added the "supremacy phrase" to the royal style, which became "Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith, Lord of Ireland and of the Church of England in Earth
Supreme Head". In 1536, the phrase "of the Church of England" changed to "of the Church of England and also of Ireland
, after being advised that many Irish people regarded the Pope as the true head of their country, with the Lord acting as a mere representative. The reason the Irish regarded the Pope as their overlord was that Ireland had originally been given to the King Henry II of England
by Pope Adrian IV
in the 12th century as a feudal territory under papal overlordship. The meeting of Irish Parliament that proclaimed Henry VIII as King of Ireland was the first meeting attended by the Gaelic Irish chieftains as well as the Anglo-Irish
aristocrats. The style "Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head" remained in use until the end of Henry's reign.
was "Coeur Loyal" ("true heart") and he had this embroidered on his clothes in the form of a heart symbol and with the word "loyal". His emblem was the Tudor rose
and the Beaufort portcullis.
As Duke of York, Henry used the arms of his father (i.e. those of the kingdom), differenced by a label of three points ermine. As king, Henry's arms
were the same as those used by his predecessors since Henry IV
: Quarterly, Azure three fleurs-de-lys
Or (for France) and Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (for England).
500th anniversary of coronation – celebrationsAn exhibition called Henry VIII: Man and Monarch, curated by David Starkey
, was held at the British Library
In 2009, Henry's 500th year anniversary of his coronation was celebrated in his favourite palaces along the River Thames
Marriages and issue
|Name||Birth||Death||By Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon , also known as Katherine or Katharine, was Queen consort of England as the first wife of King Henry VIII of England and Princess of Wales as the wife to Arthur, Prince of Wales...
(married Greenwich Palace 11 June 1509; annulled 23 May 1533)
|Unnamed Daughter||31 January 1510||2 February 1510|
|Henry, Duke of Cornwall
Henry, Duke of Cornwall
Henry, Duke of Cornwall was the name of two sons of King Henry VIII of England and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Henry and Catherine had five children, but only Princess Mary survived infancy.-The first Henry, Duke of Cornwall:...
|1 January 1511||22 February 1511|
|Henry, Duke of Cornwall||December 1514||died within one month of birth|
|Queen Mary I
Mary I of England
Mary I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death.She was the only surviving child born of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Her younger half-brother, Edward VI, succeeded Henry in 1547...
|18 February 1516||17 November 1558||married 1554, Philip II of Spain
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....
; no issue
|Unnamed Daughter||November 1518||died within one week of birth|
|By Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn ;c.1501/1507 – 19 May 1536) was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536 as the second wife of Henry VIII of England and Marquess of Pembroke in her own right. Henry's marriage to Anne, and her subsequent execution, made her a key figure in the political and religious upheaval that was the...
(married Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...
25 January 1533; annulled 17 May 1536) beheaded on 19 May 1536
|Queen Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...
|7 September 1533||24 March 1603||never married; no issue|
|By Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour was Queen of England as the third wife of King Henry VIII. She succeeded Anne Boleyn as queen consort following the latter's execution for trumped up charges of high treason, incest and adultery in May 1536. She died of postnatal complications less than two weeks after the birth of...
(married York Place 30 May 1536; Jane Seymour died 24 October 1537)
|King Edward VI
Edward VI of England
Edward VI was the King of England and Ireland from 28 January 1547 until his death. He was crowned on 20 February at the age of nine. The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward was the third monarch of the Tudor dynasty and England's first monarch who was raised as a Protestant...
|12 October 1537||6 July 1553||unmarried; no issue|
|By Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves
Anne of Cleves was a German noblewoman and the fourth wife of Henry VIII of England and as such she was Queen of England from 6 January 1540 to 9 July 1540. The marriage was never consummated, and she was not crowned queen consort...
(married Greenwich Palace 6 January 1540; annulled 9 July 1540)
|By Catherine Howard
Catherine Howard , also spelled Katherine, Katheryn or Kathryn, was the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, and sometimes known by his reference to her as his "rose without a thorn"....
(married Oatlands Palace
Oatlands Palace is a former Tudor and Stuart royal palace located between Weybridge and Walton on Thames in Surrey, England. The surrounding modern district of Oatlands takes its name from the palace...
28 July 1540; annulled 23 November 1541) beheaded on 13 February 1542
|By Catherine Parr
Catherine Parr ; 1512 – 5 September 1548) was Queen consort of England and Ireland and the last of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. She married Henry VIII on 12 July 1543. She was the fourth commoner Henry had taken as his consort, and outlived him...
(married Hampton Court Palace 12 July 1543; Henry VIII died 28 January 1547)
|By Elizabeth Blount
Elizabeth Blount , who was better known by her nickname of "Bessie", was a mistress of Henry VIII of England.-Early life:She was the daughter of Sir John Blount and Catherine Pershall, of Kinlet, Bridgnorth, Shropshire...
|Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset
Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset
Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Richmond and Somerset was the son of King Henry VIII of England and his teenage mistress, Elizabeth Blount, the only illegitimate offspring whom Henry acknowledged.-Childhood:...
|15 June 1519||23 July 1536||illegitimate; married 1533, the Lady Mary Howard; no issue|
|By Mary Boleyn
Mary Boleyn , was the sister of English queen consort Anne Boleyn and a member of the Boleyn family, which enjoyed considerable influence during the reign of King Henry VIII of England...
Paternity is debated by historians.
|Catherine Carey, Lady Knollys
Katherine Carey, often spelt Catherine Carey, after her marriage Katherine Knollys and later Lady Knollys, pronounced "Noles" Katherine Carey, often spelt Catherine Carey, after her marriage Katherine Knollys and later Lady Knollys, pronounced "Noles" Katherine Carey, often spelt Catherine Carey,...
|c. 1524||15 January 1569||married Sir Francis Knollys
Francis Knollys (the elder)
Sir Francis Knollys , of Greys Court, in Oxfordshire, KG was an English courtier in the service and favour of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I of England, and was a Member of Parliament for a number of constituencies....
; had issue
|Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon
Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon
Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, of Hunsdon was an English nobleman.He was the son of Mary Boleyn, the sister of Anne Boleyn and also the mistress to King Henry VIII of England...
|4 March 1526||23 July 1596||married 1545, Ann Morgan; had issue|
List of Popes during the reign of Henry VIII
|Pontificate||Portrait||Involvement with Henry VIII|
| Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...
31 October 1503 – 21 February 1513
Henry VIII between ages of 12 and 21.
Henry and the Pope close allies.
|Granted the dispensation for Henry to marry the widow of his brother. Julius was the warrior pope. In 1511 the Holy League was formed for the purpose of delivering Italy from French rule. England joined the League on 17 November 1511.|
| Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...
9 March 1513 – 1 December 1521
Henry VIII between ages of 21 and 30.
Henry and the Pope close allies.
| Granted Henry VIII the title of Defender of the Faith in the last week of his life. Excommunicated Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...
| Adrian VI
Pope Adrian VI
Pope Adrian VI , born Adriaan Florenszoon Boeyens, served as Pope from 9 January 1522 until his death some 18 months later...
9 January 1522 – 14 September 1523
Henry VIII between ages of 30 and 32.
|Only Dutch pope. Pontificate lasted only 613 days.|
| Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...
26 November 1523 – 25 September 1534
Henry VIII between ages of 32 and 42.
Henry formed Anglican Church
|Denied Henry VIII his request for divorce in 1527.|
| Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...
13 October 1534 – 10 November 1549
Henry VIII between ages of 42 and death.
Final break from pope.
|Catherine of Aragon died 15 months after his election. On 17 December 1538, four years into his pontificate, Paul III excommunicated Henry VIII.|
Depictions in literature and popular culture
- Cestui que
- Inventory of Henry VIII of EnglandInventory of Henry VIII of EnglandThe Inventory of Henry VIII of England compiled in 1547 is a list of the possessions of the crown, now in the British Library as Harley Ms. 1419....
- Sebastian GiustinianSebastian GiustinianSebastian Giustinian was a sixteenth-century Venetian diplomat.Between 1515 and 1519, during the reign of Henry VIII of England, Giustinian was the Venetian ambassador to England....
- The Rough WooingThe Rough WooingThe War of the Rough Wooing was fought between Scotland and England. War was declared by Henry VIII of England, in an attempt to force the Scots to agree to a marriage between his son Edward and Mary, Queen of Scots. Scotland benefited from French military aid. Edward VI continued the war until...
- The New World by Winston Churchill (1966).
- The Reformation Parliament, 1529–1536 by Stanford E. Lehmberg (1970).
- Henry VIII and his Court by Neville Williams (1971).
- The Life and Times of Henry VIII by Robert Lacey (1972).
- The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (1991) ISBN 0802136834.
- English Reformations by Christopher Haigh (1993).
- Europe: A history by Norman Davies (1998) ISBN 978-0060974688.
- Europe and England in the Sixteenth Century by T. A. Morris (1998).
- New Worlds, Lost Worlds by Susan Brigden (2000).
- Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir (2001).
- British Kings & Queens by Mike Ashley (2002) ISBN 0-7867-1104-3.
- Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir (2002) ISBN 034543708X.
- Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey (2003) ISBN 0060005505.
- The Kings and Queens of England by Ian Crofton (2006).
- Bowle, JohnJohn Edward Bowle-Education:He was educated at Marlborough College. There his contemporaries included John Betjeman, who became a friend, and Anthony Blunt, about whom he was consistently negative. He was an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was counted as an Aesthete.-Career:After his education,...
. Henry VIII: a Study of Power in Action. Little, Brown, 1964.
- Erickson, Carolly. Mistress Anne: the Exceptional Life of Anne Boleyn. (1984) 464 pp. popular biography
- Cressy, David. "Spectacle and Power: Apollo and Solomon at the Court of Henry VIII." History Today 1982 32(oct): 16–22. ISSN: 0018-2753 Fulltext: Ebsco Traces the transition of Henry from Renaissance monarch (the youthful Apollo) to Reformation patriarch (the ageing Solomon) using the graphics and visual images displayed in his court, festivals, and kingdom.
- Gardner, James. "Henry VIII" in Cambridge Modern History vol 2 (1903), a brief political history online edition
- Graves, Michael. Henry VIII (2003) 217 pp, topical coverage
- Ives, E. W. "Henry VIII (1491–1547)", in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), online at OUP, a good starting point
- Pollard, A. F. Henry VIII (1905) 470 pp; the first modern biography, accurate and still valuable online edition
- Rex, Richard. Henry VIII and the English Reformation. (1993). 205 pp.
- Ridley, Jasper. Henry VIII. (1985). 473 pp. popular biography
- Scarisbrick, J. J. Henry VIII (1968) 592 pp, a favourable scholarly biography
- Smith, Lacey Baldwin. Henry VIII: the Mask of Royalty (1971), a leading scholar writes a psycho-biography online edition
- Starkey, David. Six Wives: the Queens of Henry VIII (2003) excerpt and text search
- Starkey, David. The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics (1986). 174 pp
- Starkey, David, and Susan Doran. Henry VIII: Man and Monarch (2009) 288 pp
- Weir, Alison. Henry VIII, King and Court (2001). 640 pp, a flattering portrait excerpt and text search
- Weir, Alison. The Children of Henry VIII. (1996). 400 pp.
- Bernard, G. W. The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church. (2005). 712 pp. excerpts and text search
- Bernard, G. W. "The Making of Religious Policy, 1533–1546: Henry VIII and the Search for the Middle Way." Historical Journal 1998 41(2): 321–349. Issn: 0018-246x Fulltext: in Jstor
- Bernard, G. W. War, Taxation, and Rebellion in Early Tudor England: Henry VIII, Wolsey, and the Amicable Grant of 1525. (1986). 164 pp
- Elton, G. R. The Tudor Revolution in Government: Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII (1953; revised 1962), major interpretation online edition
- Coleman, Christoper, and David Starkey, eds. Revolution Reassessed: Revision in the History of Tudor Government and Administration (1986), evaluates Elton thesis
- Elton, G. R. Reform and Reformation: England, 1509–1558 (1977), hostile to Henry
- Fielder, Martha Anne. "Iconographic Themes in Portraits of Henry VIII." PhD dissertation Texas Christian U. 1985. 232 pp. DAI 1985 46(6): 1424-A. DA8517256 Fulltext: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses
- Fox, Alistair, and John Guy, eds. Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform 1500–1550 (1986), 242pp; advanced essays by scholars
- Head, David M. "Henry VIII's Scottish Policy: a Reassessment." Scottish Historical Review 1982 61(1): 1–24. Issn: 0036-9241 Argues that if Henry intended to take over Scotland then his 1542 victory at Solway Moss was the opportune moment, for the French were unable to intervene, the Scottish nobility was in disarray, and the infant Mary was in line for Scotland's throne. Instead, Henry adopted a policy similar to that in Ireland, since he could not afford outright conquest or the luxury of diplomacy.
- Lindsey, Karen. Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII (1995) online edition
- Loades, David. Henry VIII: Court, Church and Conflict (2007) 248pp; by a leading scholar excerpt and text search
- MacCulloch, Diarmaid, ed. The Reign of Henry VIII: Politics, Policy, and Piety. (1995). 313 pp. essays by scholars
- Marshall, Peter. "(Re)defining the English Reformation," Journal of British Studies July 2009, Vol. 48 Issue 3, pp 564–85,
- Mackie, J. D. The Earlier Tudors, 1485–1558 (1952), a political survey of the era online edition
- Moorhouse, Geoffrey. Great Harry's Navy: How Henry VIII Gave England Seapower (2007)
- Moorhouse, Geoffrey. The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries (2009)
- Slavin, Arthur J., ed. Henry VIII and the English Reformation (1968), readings by historians. online edition
- Smith, H. Maynard. Henry VIII and the Reformation (1948) online edition
- Wagner, John A. Bosworth Field to Bloody Mary: An Encyclopedia of the Early Tudors (2003). ISBN 1-57356-540-7.
- Walker, Greg. Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrician Reformation. (2005). 556 pp.
Historiography and memory
- Head, David M. "'If a Lion Knew His Own Strength': the Image of Henry VIII and His Historians." International Social Science Review 1997 72(3–4): 94–109. Issn: 0278-2308 Fulltext: Ebsco
- Hoak, Dale. "Politics, Religion and the English Reformation, 1533–1547: Some Problems and Issues." History Compass 2005 3 (Britain and Ireland): 7 pp Issn: 1478-0542 Fulltext: Blackwell Synergy
- Ives, Eric. "Will the Real Henry VIII Please Stand Up?" History Today 2006 56(2): 28–36. Issn: 0018-2753 Fulltext: Ebsco
- Rankin, Mark. 'Imagining Henry VIII: Cultural Memory and the Tudor King, 1535–1625'. PhD Dissrertation, Ohio State. U. Dissertation Abstracts International 2007 68(5): 1987-A. DA3264565, 403p.
- Williams, C. M. A. H. English Historical Documents, 1485–1558 (1996) online sources
- Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII: preserved in the Public Record Office, the British Museum and elsewhere, Volume 1 edited by John S. Brewer, Robert H. Brodie, James Gairdner. (1862), full text online vol 1; full text vol 3
- see James GairdnerJames GairdnerJames Gairdner was a British historian. Specializing in 15th century and Early Tudor history, he among other tasks edited the Letters and Papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII series....
for more detail
- see James Gairdner
- Tudor bio
- Jokinen, A. (2004). Henry VIII (1491–1547).
- Eakins, L. E. (2004). "The Six Wives of Henry VIII".
- Public Broadcasting Service. (2003). "The Six Wives of Henry VIII".
- Vallieres, S. (1999). "Tudor Succession Problems"
- Ask About Ireland: Waterford Museum of Treasures Collection: Cap of Maintenance
- Luminarium: King Henry VIII Life, works, essays, study resources
- Henry VIII Podcast Show
- Henry VIII and his wives
- Buehler, Edward. (2004). "Tudor Portraits: Henry VIII".
- Stevens, Garry. (2003). "Henry VIII: Intrigue in the Tudor Court"
- Martin LutherMartin LutherMartin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...
to Henry VIII, 1 September 1525
- Henry VIII to Martin Luther. August, 1526
- Henry VIII to Frederic, John, and George, Dukes of Saxony. January. 20, 1523 re: Luther.
- "Henry VIII Revealed", Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2003. – A discussion of the Holbein's 1536 portrait of Henry VIII and related portraits