King Henry VIII of England: Wives and Legacy


23 Mar 2015 16 Apr 2018

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Henry VIII

Reigned as king of England from the 21st of April in 1509 until his death on 28thof January in 1547, King Henry VIII who ruled for 37 years and 282 days was the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. His older brother Arthur, Prince of Wales got married to Catherine of Aragon in 1501 when Henry was 10 years old. Soon after Arthur's wedding, his wife, Catherine, and he went to live in Wales, seeing that was tradition for the heir to the throne. However, four months after their marriage began, it ended with Arthur's death. Later on, An agreement was signed that would allow Catherine to marry the next heir to the throne which was Prince Henry. Until then, Catherine's parents, Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain would send over 100,000 crowns worth of plate and gold as a wedding gift and Henry would pay the agreed upon dowry. It was viewed as necessary for a papal dispensation to be issued permitting Henry to marry Catherine, as she was his dead brother's wife, and this marriage was illegal in Leviticus. At the time Catherine denied that her marriage to Arthur had even been accomplished so no dispensation was needed. However, permission from the pope was wanted and received due to both parties in Spain and England who wanted to be sure of the legitimacy of the marriage. Arthur's death caused Henry to be the upcoming king in a very young age and that Henry was shy of 18 years old, but he did prepare himself for this situation after his brother's death. When people hear the name Henry VIII they would not want to see an 18 year old boy so he was not what people really expected. Henry was not the heavy and ill kind of person in his later years. Instead in his youth, he was handsome and athletic. He was tall as well as he had a bright red-gold cap of hair and beard balding and unhealthy man that is often remembered. Henry's marital career is probably the thing that he is most known for.

Shortly after becoming king, Henry VIII took Catherine of Aragon as his bride on 11 June 1509. King Henry had inherited £1.5 million pounds from his father and had succeeded in the first peaceful transition of power after the Wars of the Roses. He then brought a youth and vigor to the court that had long been lacking and that Henry dreamed of glory beyond the hunt and argues.

Catherine of Aragon - Wife # 1

Catherine of Aragon was rased in a family of kings and queens and she was intended to become one herself. As she was about four years old she was betrothed to the future king of England. After her first husband dies, Catherine of Aragon by 1505 married Henry VIII. She satisfied this destiny. Soon after their marriage, Catherine finds out that she is pregnant, but with a stillborn daughter. Subsequent to that she gave birth to a daughter called Mary. But Henry was scared that he'll die before having a boy to take his name after him and at the same time Catherine could not really produce a male heir. After all she became a victim of Henry VIII's inability to produce a male heir. For this reason, she was removed from her throne and her marriage annulled. Although, maybe not the most memorable of Henry VIII's wives, she certainly had left a mark on history.

Anne Boleyn - Wife # 2

In 1528, Anne showed real interest in religious reform and may have gave some of her ideas to Henry, and gaining the hatred of some members of the Court. The legal argues about the marriage of Henry and Catherine of Aragon continued on. Anne was no doubt frustrated by the lack of progress. Her famous anger and tongue showed themselves at times in famous arguments between her and Henry for all the court to see. Anne feared that Henry might go back to Catherine if the marriage could not be annulled and Anne would have wasted time that she could have used to make an advantageous marriage. Sometime near the end of 1532, Anne finally gave way and by December she was pregnant. To avoid any questions of the legitimacy of the child, Henry was forced into action. Sometime near St. Paul's Day, Anne and Henry were secretly married. Although the King's marriage to Catherine was not dissolved, in the King's mind it had never existed in the first place, so he was free to marry whomever he wanted. On May 23, the Archbishop officially proclaimed that the marriage of Henry and Catherine was invalid. Anne later on recognized that it was urgent that she produce a son. By January of 1534, she was pregnant again, but the child was either miscarried or stillborn. In 1535, she became pregnant again but miscarried by the end of January. The child was reported to have been a boy. The Queen was quite upset, and blamed the miscarriage on her state of mind after hearing that Henry had taken a fall in jousting. She had to have known at this point that her failure to produce a living male heir was a threat to her own life, especially since the King's fancy for one of her ladies-in-waiting, Jane Seymour, began to grow. Although Anne gave birth to a girl named Elizabeth, she got executed since she could not produce a male heir so he can come after the king.

Jane Seymour- Wife # 3

In September 1535, the King stayed at the Seymour family home in Wiltshire, England. It may have been there that the king noticed Jane. Henry's love for Jane was secretly made that no one noticed but until February of 1536. By that point, Jane probably pegged to be in a position such as the one Anne was in as a queen, and that she would love to replace her, while Henry's unconcern in Anne was obvious. Within 24 hours of Anne Boleyn's execution, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were formally betrothed. On the 30th of May, Henry and Jane were married. Jane never had a coronation, unlike Henry's previous two Queens. King Henry was waiting for Jane to prove herself by giving him a son. It was not until early 1537 that Jane became pregnant. During her pregnancy, Jane's every whim was indulged by the King Henry was convinced that Jane, whom he felt to be his first true wife, carried his long hoped for son. In October, a prince was born at Hampton Court Palace and was christened on 15th of October. The baby was named Edward. Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, was godmother and Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, also played a role in the ceremony. Jane attended her son's christening, although she was weak. She died on October 24th, just two weeks after her son was born.

Anne of Cleves- Wife #4

Henry VIII remained single for more than two years after his beloved, Jane Seymour's death. Maybe he was giving some acceptance to the thought that he lost his previous wife, Jane Seymour. Henry's first marriage had been a foreign alliance of sorts, although it is almost certain that the two were truly in love for some time. His next two brides were love matches and Henry could have had little or no monetary or political gain from them. Henry did also want to be sure he was getting a desirable bride, so he had agents in foreign courts report to him on the appearance and other qualities of various candidates. He also sent painters to bring him images of these women. Hans Holbein was sent to the court of the Duke of Cleves, who had two sisters, Amelia and Anne. Holbein painted the sisters of the Duke of Cleves and Henry decided to have a contract drawn up for his marriage to Anne. At the end, Anne was probably smart enough to know that she would only be making trouble for herself if she raised any obstacles to Henry's attempts to annul the marriage. She testified that the match had not been accomplished and that her previous engagement to the son of the Duke of Lorraine had not been properly broken. So at last she got what she wanted, a divorce.

Kathryn Howard - Wife # 5

Katherine Parr - Wife #6

Edward VI

Mary I (and know as Bloody Mary)

Mary Tudor is the daughter of King Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, born on February 18, 1516.she was well educated and was able to speak and write in both Latin and French. Moreover she studied theology and history. At age eleven Mary translated a prayer of St Thomas Aquinas from Latin to English and under the tutelage of Katherine Parr learned to translate Erasmus's Paraphrases of the Gospel of ST John from Latin. One of her hobbies is playing music such as the lute and virginals like pro at an early age. After her father annulled his marriage to her mother in 1533 this had a heavy hearted affection on Mary. The child that was loved and adored by both of her parents wound up in hostile arguments with her father.

Henry became a hard hearted man towards the daughter he was supposed to love and she felt she had to be her mother's champion and stand up for her mother's rights.

Katherine always made it clear to everyone that she felt that she was the real wife of King Henry VIII and that she would not do anything to endanger her daughter's and rightful place on the throne.

In 1533 her father secret married Anne Boleyn and they soon expected a child. When her half sister Elizabeth was born on September 7th 1533, Marywas proclaimed a bastard and not eligible to inherit the crown. The favor was then passed on to her younger sister.

Mary's pride was humiliated even further when she was forced to be a lady in waiting to Elizabeth. Anne mistreated Mary and lowered her self esteem by uttering nasty threats at her and even tried to have her own father sentence her to death.

Elizabeth Tudor

Henry's second wife Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter named Elizabeth, born on September 7th 1533. When she was a year old an act of succession was passed in her favor, which made her heir to the throne in place of her older sister Mary. In her young life Elizabeth had a number of governesses one of whom was Lady Margaret Bryan who had to beg Cromwell for night gowns and chemises for the princess once she grew out of them. Clothes that had been ordered by the princesses mother Anne Boleyn. When Elizabeth was four Margaret Bryan was transferred to the household to become governess to Prince Edward. Elizabeth was taughtmathematics, history, geography, architecture, needlework, dancing, riding and deportment. Elizabeth spoke and read Latin, French, Italian, Flemishand Greek. The princess spent most of her child hood in different royal houses in the northern part of London. The first house in Hatfield was a redbrick palace built by Cardinal John Mortor between 1480 and 1497. As a child Elizabeth rarely visited her father at the palace. Henry VIII would send someone to make inquiries about her health and education. When Elizabeth was eight years old her second cousin Katherine Howard was beheaded for committing adultery which brought back the terrifying way in which her mother died. Henry never intentionally expected her education would prepare her to become Queen.

Elizabeth was not beautiful, but she was appealing to the eye. She had inherited her father's red hair and hooked nose. She inherited her long pale face, pointed chin and witty eyes from her mother. Elizabeth was well composed, well mannered and posed certain gravity and was described as a witty and gentile young lady. She was also a strong minded woman and strived to work hard in everything she did.


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