Historical Figure
King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII
Biographical Information
Real Name: Henry Tudor
Title: Henry VIII, King of England
Predecessor: King Henry VII
Successor: King Edward VI
Born: 28 June 1491
Age: 55
Religion: The Church of England
Gender: Male Male
Height: 6'2
Originally From: Greenwich, England
Parents: King Henry VII (Father)

Elizabeth of York (Mother)

Wife: Catherine of Aragon

Anne Boleyn
Jane Seymour
Anne of Cleves
Catherine Howard
Catherine Parr

Family: Arthur Tudor (Brother)

Edmund Tudor (Brother)
Margaret Tudor (Sister)
Mary Tudor (Sister)
Elizabeth Tudor (Sister)
Katherine Tudor (Sister)
King James V (Nephew)
Queen Mary (Grand-Niece)
James Stuart (Grand-Nephew)
Lady Jane Grey‏‎ (Grand-Niece)

Children: Queen Mary (Daughter)

Queen Elizabeth (Daughter)
King Edward Tudor (Son)
Henry Fitzroy (Son, illegitimate)

Affiliations: Kingdom of England

House of Tudor

Burial: St George's Chapel,
Windsor Castle
TV Character Information
Signature: King Henry VIII's Signature
First appearance: Pilot (Mentioned)
Portrays: King Henry VIII

Henry Tudor (Henry VIII) (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later assumed the Kingship, of Ireland, and continued the nominal claim by English monarchs to the Kingdom of France. Henry was the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, 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. His disagreements with the Pope led to his separation of the Church of England from papal authority, with himself, as king, as the Supreme Head of the Church of England and to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Because his principal dispute was with papal authority, rather than with doctrinal matters, he remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings despite his excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church. Henry oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. He is also well known for a long personal rivalry with both Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, with whom he frequently warned.

Domestically, Henry is known for his radical changes to the English Constitution, ushering in the theory of the divine right of kings to England. Besides asserting the sovereign's supremacy over the Church of England, thus initiating the English Reformation, he greatly expanded royal power. Charges of treason and heresy were commonly used to quash dissent, and those accused were often executed without a formal trial, by means of bills of attainder. He achieved many of his political aims through the work of his chief ministers, some of whom were banished or executed when they fell out of his favour. Figures such as Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, and Thomas Cranmer figured prominently in Henry's administration. An extravagant spender, he used the proceeds from the Dissolution of the Monasteries and acts of the Reformation Parliament to convert money formerly paid to Rome into royal revenue. Despite the influx of money from these sources, Henry was continually on the verge of financial ruin due to his personal extravagance as well as his numerous costly continental wars.

His contemporaries considered Henry in his prime to be an attractive, educated and accomplished king, and he has been described as "one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne". Besides ruling with considerable power, he was also an author and composer. His desire to provide England with a male heir – which stemmed partly from personal vanity and partly from his belief that a daughter would be unable to consolidate Tudor power and maintain the fragile peace that existed following the Wars of the Roses – led to the two things for which Henry is most remembered: his six marriages and his break with the Pope (who would not allow an annulment of Henry's first marriage). As he aged, Henry became severely obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547. He is frequently characterized in his later life as a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king. He was succeeded by his son Edward VI.

Early LifeEdit

Born 28 June 1491 in Greenwich Palace, Henry Tudor was the third child and second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Of the seven children, only four – Arthur, Margaret, Mary and himself – survived infancy. Henry was given a first-rate education from leading tutors, becoming fluent in Latin and French, and learning at least some Italian. Not much is known about his early life – save for his appointments – because he was not expected to become king. In November 1501, Henry also played a considerable part in the ceremonies surrounding the marriage of his brother, Prince Arthur, to Catherine of Aragon, the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

In 1502, Arthur died at the age of 15, just 20 weeks after his marriage to Catherine. Arthur's death thrust all his duties upon his younger brother, the 10-year-old Henry. Young Henry was strictly supervised and did not appear in public. As a result, the young Henry would later ascend the throne "untrained in the exacting art of kingship."

Henry VII renewed his efforts to seal a marital alliance between England and Spain, by offering his second son in marriage to Arthur's widow Catherine. On 23 June 1503, a treaty was signed for their marriage, and they were betrothed two days later.

First MarriageEdit

His father died on April 1509, and the young Henry succeeded him as king. Soon after his father's burial, Henry suddenly declared that he would indeed marry Catherine of Aragon. The new king maintained that it had been his father's dying wish that he marry Catherine. Whether or not this was true, it was certainly convenient. Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I had been attempting to marry his granddaughter (and Catherine's niece) Eleanor to him. Henry's wedding to Catherine was kept low-key and was held in Greenwich on 11 June 1509. On 23 June 1509, Henry led Catherine from The Tower of London to Westminster Abbey for their coronation, which took place the following day.

Two days after Henry's coronation, he arrested his father's two most unpopular ministers, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. They were charged with high treason and were executed in 1510. Historian Ian Crofton has maintained that such executions would become Henry's primary tactic for dealing with those who stood in his way; the two executions were certainly not the last.

Soon after, Catherine conceived a girl, but she was stillborn in early 1510. About four months later, Catherine again became pregnant. On New Year's Day 1511, the child – Henry – was born. After the grief of losing their first child, the couple were pleased to have a boy and there were festivities to celebrate, including a jousting tournament. However, the child died seven weeks later. Catherine had two stillborn sons in 1514 and 1515, and gave birth in February 1516 to a girl, Mary Tudor. Relations between Henry and Catherine had been strained, but they eased slightly after Mary's birth.

Although Henry's marriage to Catherine has since been described as "unusually good", it is known that Henry took mistresses. Starting in 1516 was Elizabeth Blount, who is one of only two completely undisputed mistresses. Exactly how many Henry had is disputed. Catherine did not protest, and in 1518 fell pregnant again with another girl, who was also stillborn. Elizabeth Blount gave birth in June 1519 to Henry's illegitimate son, Henry FitzRoy. The young boy was made Duke of Richmond when he was 6 in what some thought was one step on the path to his eventual legitimization. In 1533, FitzRoy married Mary Howard, but died childless three years later when he was 17. At the time of his's death, Parliament was enacting the Second Succession Act, which could have allowed him to become king.

King of EnglandEdit

Around this time, Henry conducted an affair with Mary Boleyn, Catherine's lady-in-waiting. There has been speculation that Mary's two children, Catherine and Henry Carey, were fathered by Henry, but this has never been proved and the King never acknowledged them as he did Henry FitzRoy. In 1525, as Henry grew more impatient with Catherine's inability to produce the male heir he desired, he became enamoured of Mary's sister, Anne Boleyn, then a charismatic young woman in the Queen's entourage. Anne, however, resisted his attempts to seduce her, and refused to become his mistress as her sister Mary Boleyn had. It was in this context that Henry considered his three options for finding a dynastic successor and hence resolving what came to be described at court as the King's "great matter". These options were; legitimizing Henry FitzRoy, which would take the intervention of the Pope and would be open to challenge; marrying off Mary Tudor as soon as possible and hoping for a grandson to inherit directly; or rejecting Catherine and marrying someone else of child-bearing age. Probably seeing the possibility of marrying Anne, the third was ultimately the most attractive possibility to Henry, and it soon became the King's absorbing desire to annul his marriage to Catherine.

Henry himself, at least in the early part of his reign, was a devout and well-informed Catholic and in 1521 earned him the title Defender of the Faith from Pope Leo X. It is not clear when Henry changed his mind on the issue. By 1527 he had convinced himself that in marrying Catherine, his brother's wife, he had acted contrary to Leviticus 20:21. It was this argument Henry took to Pope Clement VII in 1527 in the hope of having his marriage to Catherine annulled. In going public, all hope of tempting Catherine to retire to a nunnery or otherwise stay quiet were lost. The Pope refused to allow this.

Other missions concentrated on arranging a court to meet in England, with a representative from Pope Clement VII. Though Clement never had any intention of deciding in Henry's favour. This bias was pressure from Charles V, Catherine's nephew. After less than two months of hearing evidence, Clement closed the case. Finally, years later, Catherine was banished from court, and her rooms were given to Anne. Anne was an unusually educated and intellectual woman for her time, and was keenly absorbed and engaged with the ideas of the Protestant Reformers, though the extent to which she herself was a committed Protestant is much debated.

Second MarriageEdit

In the winter of 1532, Henry met with King Francis I at Calais and enlisted the support of the French king for his new marriage. Immediately upon returning to Dover in England, Henry and Anne Boleyn went through a secret wedding service. She soon became pregnant, and there was a second wedding service in London, England on 25 January 1533. Catherine was formally stripped of her title as Queen, becoming instead "princess dowager" as the widow of Arthur. In her place, Anne was crowned Queen consort. 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.

With the Act of Succession 1533, Catherine's daughter, Mary Tudor, was declared illegitimate; Henry's marriage to Anne was declared legitimate; and Anne's issue was decided to be next in the line of succession. With the Acts of Supremacy the next year, Parliament recognized the King's status as head of the Church in England. It was only then that Pope Clement VII took the step of excommunicating Henry.

The 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 and it made her many enemies. For his part, Henry disliked Anne's constant irritability and violent temper. After a miscarriage, he saw her failure to give him a son as a betrayal. As early as Christmas 1534, Henry was discussing the chances of leaving Anne without having to return to Catherine.

On 8 January 1536 news reached the king and the queen that Catherine of Aragon had died. Henry called for public displays of joy regarding Catherine's death. The queen was pregnant again, and she was aware of the consequences if she failed to give birth to a son. Later that month, the King was unhorsed in a tournament and was very badly injured. When news of this accident reached the queen, she was sent into shock and miscarried a male child that was about 15 weeks old. 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.

Anne's downfall came shortly after she had recovered from her final miscarriage. Whether it was primarily the result of allegations of conspiracy, adultery or witchcraft remains a matter of debate among historians. Early signs of a fall from grace included the King's new mistress, Jane Seymour, being moved into new quarters, and Anne's brother, George Boleyn, being refused the Order of the Garter. In 3 days, five men, including Anne's brother, were arrested on charges of treasonable adultery and accused of having sexual relationships with the queen. Anne was also arrested, accused of treasonous adultery and incest. Although the evidence against them was unconvincing, the accused were found guilty and condemned to death. Her brother and the other accused were executed on 17 May 1536, and Anne was executed 2 days later.

Third MarriageEdit

The day after Anne Boleyn's execution Henry became engaged to Jane Seymour, who had been one of the Queen's Ladies-in-Waiting, and were married ten days later. On 12 October 1537, Jane gave birth to a son, Prince Edward, the future King Edward VI. The birth was difficult, and the queen died 2 weeks later from an infection and was buried in Windsor. Over time that Henry came to long for his wife, however at the time, Henry recovered quickly from the shock.

With Charles V distracted by the internal politics of his many kingdoms and external threats, and Henry and Francis I on relatively good terms, domestic and not foreign policy issues had been Henry's priority in the first half of the 1530s. In 1536, Henry edited the Act of Succession which declared Henry's child by Jane to be next in the line of succession and declared both Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate, thus excluding them from the throne. The king was also granted the power to further determine the line of succession in his will, should he have no further issue. However, when Charles and Francis made peace in January 1539, Henry became increasingly paranoid.

Fourth, & Fifth MarriageEdit

Anne of Cleves, the sister of the Duke of Cleves, who was seen as an important ally in case of a Roman Catholic attack on England. Hans Holbein was dispatched to Cleves to paint a portrait of Anne for the king. Despite speculation that Holbein painted her in an overly flattering light, it is likely that the portrait was accurate. After seeing the portrait, and urged on by the complimentary description of Anne given by his courtiers, the king agreed to wed Anne. However, it was not long before Henry wished to annul the marriage so he could marry another. Anne did not argue, and confirmed that the marriage had never been consummated. The marriage was subsequently dissolved, and Anne received the title of "The King's Sister", two houses and a generous allowance. It was soon clear that Henry had fallen for Catherine Howard, the Duke of Norfolk's niece, the politics of which worried Cromwell, for Norfolk was a political opponent.

On 28 July 1540, Henry married the young Catherine Howard, a first cousin and lady-in-waiting of Anne Boleyn. He was absolutely delighted with his new queen, and awarded her the lands of Cromwell and a vast array of jewellery. Soon after the marriage, Queen Catherine had an affair with the courtier Thomas Culpeper, and Francis Dereham, who had previously been informally engaged to her. The court was informed of her affair with Dereham whilst Henry was away. Though Henry originally refused to believe the allegations, Dereham confessed. It took another meeting of the council, before Henry believed the accusations against Dereham and went into a rage. 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 Culpeper. Culpeper and Dereham were both executed, and Catherine too was beheaded on 13 February 1542.

Second invasion of FranceEdit

The 1539 alliance between Francis I and Charles V had soured, eventually degenerating into The Italian Wars. With Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn dead, relations between Charles V and Henry VIII improved considerably, and Henry concluded a secret alliance with the Emperor and decided to enter The Italian Wars in favour of his new ally. An invasion of France was planned for 1543. In preparation for it, Henry moved to eliminate the potential threat of Scotland under the youthful James V. Victory would continue the Reformation in Scotland, which was still Catholic, and Henry hoped to unite the crowns of England and Scotland by marriage of James' daughter, the future Mary, Queen of Scots, to his son Prince Edward. Henry made war on Scotland for several years in pursuit of this goal, a campaign dubbed "the Rough Wooing". The Scots were defeated at The Battle of Solway Moss on 24 November 1542, and James died two weeks later. .

Despite the success with Scotland, Henry hesitated to invade France, annoying Charles V. Henry finally went to France in June 1544 with a two-pronged attack. Henry had refused Charles V's request to march against Paris. Charles' own campaign fizzled, and he made peace with France that same day. Henry was left alone against France, unable to make peace. Francis I attempted to invade England in the summer of 1545, but reached only the Isle of Wight before being repulsed. Out of money, France and England signed the Treaty of Camp. Henry secured Boulogne for eight years. The city was then to be returned to France for 2 million crowns (£750,000). Henry needed the money; the 1544 campaign had cost £650,000, and England was once again bankrupt.

Meanwhile, Henry still clung to the Treaty of Greenwich, the Scots repudiated it in December 1543. Henry launched another war on Scotland, sending an army to burn Edinburgh and lay waste to the country. The Scots would not submit though. Defeat at Ancrum Moor prompted a second invasion force. This war was nominally ended by the Treaty of Camp, although unrest continued in Scotland, including French and English interventions, up to Henry's death.

Marriage to Catherine ParrEdit

Henry married his last wife, the wealthy widow Catherine Parr, in July 1543. A reformer at heart, she argued with Henry over religion. Ultimately, Henry remained committed to an idiosyncratic mixture of Catholicism and Protestantism. Parr helped reconcile Henry with his daughtersMary and Elizabeth. In 1543, an Act of Parliament put the daughters back in the line of succession after Prince Edward. The same act allowed Henry to determine further succession to the throne in his will.


Late in life, Henry became obese, with a waist measurement of 54 inches (140 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 the jousting accident in 1536, in which he suffered a leg wound. The accident re-opened and aggravated a previous injury he had sustained years earlier, to the extent that his doctors found it difficult to treat. Thus preventing him from maintaining the level of physical activity he had previously enjoyed.

Henry's obesity 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. Henry VIII was interred in St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, next to Jane Seymour.

After his death, Henry's only legitimate son, Prine Edward, inherited the Crown, becoming Edward VI. Since Edward was then only nine years old, he could not exercise actual power. Rather, Henry's will designated 16 executors to serve on a council of regency until Edward reached the age of 18. If Edward went childless, the throne was to pass to Mary, Henry VIII's daughter by Catherine of Aragon, and her heirs. If Mary's issue failed, the crown was to go to Elizabeth, Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn, 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, Queen Mary of France, the Greys. The descendants of Henry's sister Margaret – the Stuarts, rulers of Scotland – were thereby excluded from the succession. This final provision failed when James VI of Scotland became James I of England upon Elizabeth's death.


  • Both King Henry VIII of England and King Henry II of France were the 2nd born sons, however, when their older brothers died at young ages, they became the king of their respected countries.
  • Even though King Henry created The Church of England, also know as Protestant so he could marry Anne Boleyn, before his death, he still considered himself Catholic.
  • Henry had 17 children, from 3 different wives, and several mistresses.
  • Henry had 7 children from different mistresses, all making it to adulthood. However, of the 10 born to him by his first 3 wives, only 3 survived.
  • Henry named his first three sons Henry, Duke of Cornwall but they all died within months of birth.
  • Married 3 woman named, 'Catherine' and two named 'Anne'.
  • Henry had an affair with Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn's sister before the two met. The pair even had a daughter together, and possibly a son, Henry Carey. He outlived his father and lived to be 70.
  • Henry had many children by Catherine of Aragon, but only Mary Tudor survived infancy. Elizabeth Tudor was his only surviving child with Anne Boleyn, and his son Edward Tudor, from his 3rd wife Jane Seymour.
  • Henry had one illegitimate child with Lady Elizabeth Blount named Henry FitzRoy.
  • His illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy was considered as a potential husband for Catherine de' Medici.
  • Captain John Hawkins's father, William Hawkins was a ship owner and sea Captain, serving in Parliament under King Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Mary.

Family TreeEdit

King Henry Tudor VII
Elizabeth of York
Arthur Tudor
Catherine of Aragon
King Henry Tudor VIII
Anne Boleyn
Mary Tudor
Margaret Tudor
Mary Tudor
Elizabeth Tudor
Frances Grey
King James Stuart
Lady Lennox
Lady Jane Grey
James Stuart
Mary Stuart
Lord Darnley

Historical Figure

Pages: Historical Events | Historical References | Historical Timeline |
Kings: King Antoine of Navarre | King Edward of England | King Henry II of France | King Henry VIII of England |
King James V of Scotland | King Francis I of France | King Francis II of France | King Charles IX of France |
King Philip II of Spain |
Queens: Queen Catherine of France | Queen Mary of Scotland | Queen Anne of England | Queen Elizabeth of England | Queen Jane of England | Queen Mary of England | Queen Jeanne of Navarre | Queen Elisabeth of Spain |
Princes: Prince of the Blood, Louis Condé | Price Don Carlos of Spain | Price Henry of France | Prince Henry de Bourbon | Duke Francis of France |
Princesses: Princess Claude of France | Catherine of Aragon | Princess Catherine de Bourbon |
Lords: Robert Dudley | William Cecil | Henry Darnley | Matthew Lennox | Patrick Ruthven
Ladies: Amy Dudley | Mary Boleyn | Mary Fleming | Mary Livingston | Mary Beaton | Mary Seton | Margaret Lennox |
Nobles: Diane de Poitiers | James Stuart | Marie de Guise | Lucrezia de' Medici |
Others: Nostradamus | John Knox | Pope Clement VII |

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