Henry the VIII became heir to the throne after his brother Arthur died. He received little training for his future role as king, and relied on his counselors during his early reign. Henry is remembered for his tyrancy, but most of all for his six wives.
The first of Henry’s wives was Catherine of Aragon. She was the widow of Henry’s
brother, Arthur. After Arthur’s death Catherine’s future was the responsibility of her parents and father-in law. They decided that the Anglo-Spanish alliance must be maintained. After the death of his father, Henry married Catherine of Aragon in 1509. Henry was greatly taken with his bride. She was intelligent, accomplished and spirited, a more than suitable companion for a young and energetic king.
The prime duty of any queen was to bear children, preferably males, so that the dynasty would continue after the king’s demise. Although Catherine was pregnant many times, only Princess Mary survived. Henry became increasingly frustrated and disappointed; he still didn’t have an heir to the throne. The ” King’s great Matter “became public knowledge. He remained a devoted husband to Catherine until Henry met the woman who was to be his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Bewitched by Anne’s sparkling looks and vivacious personality. The king began scheming to end his marriage to Catherine. He claimed that it had never really been a marriage because she had been his brother’s wife. Catherine claimed her first marriage was never consummated and therefore wasn’t valid; Church authorities agreed with Catherine. For six years Henry struggled unsuccessfully to have his marriage annulled. In the end, determined to have his way, he broke free of the Catholic Church, established the church of England, banished Catherine from court, had his first marriage declared invalid and married Anne Boleyn.
Anne was crowned queen in 1533,later that year she gave birth to her only child, Elizabeth. The years of waiting made Anne moody and sharpen tongued; Henry was falling out of love with her. Anne had made many enemies during her reign; she brought about the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey and plotted against Henry’s first wife and daughter, Mary.
In 1536, Catherine died and Anne was pregnant again; she knows if she gave birth to a healthy son her position, as queen would be secure. On the day of Catherine’s funeral Anne found Henry with Jane Seymour one of Anne’s maids of honor and had a miscarriage.
Six months later Anne was arrested and charged with having several affairs. She was convicted and sentenced to death. Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Henry the eighth married his third wife, Jane Seymour.
Jane was a very gentlewoman who also rejected the king’s advances and again Henry was in love with someone he couldn’t have. Henry and Jane were married two weeks after Anne’s beheading.
In 1537, Jane gave birth to a son Edward. Twelve days later she died. Henry grieved for her, but was already looking for a new wife. This time he wanted a politically advantageous marriage. It was two years later that Henry the VIII was betrothed to his fourth wife Anne ofCleves from Germany.
When she arrived from Germany, Henry found her ugly, downright repulsive and didn’t want to marry her. He couldn’t break the treaty he had with Cleves, so he went ahead with the wedding.
Eventually Anne learned her husband wished to be rid of her. She was shrewd enough to know that her life was in danger so she cooperated with Henry and agreed to have their marriage annulled. Anne remained in England was given a large amount of money and land .She outlived Henry as was certainly the most fortunate of his wives.
Twenty days after his marriage to Anne of Cleves ended Henry married wife number 5,Katherine Howard. Having thought Katherine was pretty, kind and unspoiled. But Katherine had secrets. She had several affairs, one with a man whom she promised to marry.
This alone made her ineligible to marry the king. In time her secrets of infidelity were discovered and she was arrested. In 1542,Katherine Howard was beheaded. The following year Henry VIII married his sixth and final wife Katherine Parr. Katherine had been married twice, each marriage ending with the death of her husband. Henry became fond of the auburn haired lady, but Katherine was in love with Jane Seymour’s brother Thomas. Katherine however knew better than to refuse the king, so in 1543 Henry and Katherine were wed. Henry was old and ill and Katherine was as much a nurse to him as a wife. She was good to his children and helped him reconcile with Catherine of Aragon’s daughter Mary. Catherine of Parr was ordered arrested by Henry for her radical religious views, but later Henry rescinded the warrant. After that Katherine dared not to dispute with the king.
HenryVIII died on January 28,1547,within months Katherine married Thomas Seymour. Seymour later tried to seduce her stepdaughter, Henry’s daughter Elizabeth. Henry’s last unfortunate wife died from complication of childbirth in 1548.