• Enya Wadhawan

The Curious Case of King Henry VIII

Enya Wadhawan

King Henry VIII elegantly posing for a portrait painting with leaf embellished background.

Reigning over the kingdom of England and Wales from the 15th century till his demise in 1547, King Henry VIII was a man with the dreams of becoming a great king, conquering France, having a healthy heir, and going down in history as a great ruler.

He achieved only one, but with a hell of a story.

This young man was born from the blood of two royal houses, Lancaster and York, making him widely supported and loved. Henry went from being a generous, promising, beloved young king taking over from his tyrannical father to becoming a gluttonous despot. His ambitions made him greedy and eventually led to his historic downfall.

Also known as the Father of the Navy, King Henry formed the massive Tudor Navy. It would go on to cement English control over Wales, establish the permanent Royal Navy and become the most powerful navy in history.

Being the second son of Henry VII, this popular prince was never supposed to become king. So, Henry was left to completely immerse himself in music, art, theatre, and literature - while all the responsibility fell upon the shoulders of his elder brother, Arthur of Wales.

The twist in Henry's life came when his brother died suddenly. His father, now stuck with no heir, decided an unequipped, unacquainted young Henry VIII would now rule. But the most memorable part of this infamous king's reign is his personal life.

The man had a total of 6 wives, and his history with them is filled with drama, passion, and scandal.

The wives of King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, Catherine Parr.

His first wife was his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, whom he married for love at the age of 18, when marriages were made solely for alliances. The marriage did not last long, but the divorce proceedings did. The Roman Catholic Church did not permit divorces and even after a lengthy trial, the Pope did not grant Henry's wish. Finding no other option, he cut himself off from the Roman Catholic Church and created a completely new church, the Church of England, transforming English religion forever.

After the divorce, he fell for another woman, Anne Boleyn. She was known to be quite manipulating and would do anything to become Queen. Sadly she couldn't give Henry a male heir even after many attempts, thereby "insulting" the king, for which she was beheaded.

The king then married her lady in waiting, Jane Seymour, who fulfilled his heartiest wish of giving him a male heir, only to die in childbirth.

Next, the king married Anne of Cleves for political gain, but also because he was told stories of her beauty and sophistication.

Now, if you're starting to think the king was a bad guy, this will probably make that notion worse. After finally meeting the "girl of his dreams", King Henry discovered that she did not live up to his expectations, set by the tales of his trusted advisor, Thomas Cromwell. He was so revolted by her that he divorced her that very second. The intellectual and poised Anne of Cleves survived her encounter with the blasphemous king, while Thomas was executed for bringing Henry such a wife.

So that's 4/6, the next being Catherine Howard, who despised her king so much that she took upon extramarital affairs and got herself beheaded too.

So far we can see a pattern: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, and beheaded, but surprisingly, Catherine Parr survived.

She took care of the now obese, unhealthy, tyrannical King Henry and even helped him conquer a part of France (only for it to be taken back later, but he had his moment). She did this until he took his last breath in 1547, at the age of 55.

King Henry VIII revolutionized English health care, created the church of England, managed to have a male heir, and conquer parts of France. He achieved everything he had strived for and was a good king, at least according to him.

But shortly after his death, his male heir died and his French territories were to be given back.

All in all, he was only remembered for his notorious take on proving his status in society and went from being a beloved, cultured ruler to a tyrant wife killer.

And that is why he is remembered as the epitome of the word 'king'.

About The Author -

Enya loves expressing herself in any artform possible, whether playing instruments or taking charge. Big on mental health and adaptability, she loves learning and developing her skills further. Currently pursuing science in grade 12th, Enya hopes to get an idea about her life.

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