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 Six Wives of Henry VIII

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مُساهمةموضوع: Six Wives of Henry VIII   2011-08-09, 19:28


Henry VIII, Tudor monarch, ruler of England in sixteenth-century
Renaissance England, had six wives. The fates of the wives can be
remembered as "Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived."

Henry the Eighth in his youth was much like William Shakespeare's
description of King Henry V — he was much more interested in arms and
armor, swordplay, jousting, hunting, and women than in kingship. He
wrote love poems and composed songs such as "Pastime with Good Company."
Throughout his life, he also loved regal fashion — after all, what was
royalty if one could not dress like a royal. There still remains an
elaborate suit of armor worn by King Henry VIII at the Tower of London
Museum. However, the British Isles had to have a ruler serious about the
business of the commonwealth, and one of those concerns was taking a
wife and begetting an heir to the throne of England. It was not long
since the Wars of the Roses, and succession had to be secured.

VIII's first wife, Queen Catharine of Aragon, who had been contracted
to Henry's brother Arthur before his death, gave him a daughter, who was
to become Queen Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, for the number of
Protestant executions in her reign. While married to Catharine, the King
fell in love with Anne Boleyn to the point of obsession, which resulted
in his desire to obtain a divorce. The Pope and the Catholic Church
would not grant it, which resulted in King Henry VIII breaking from the
church of Rome — in one swoop England became a protestant country; it is
due to this one factor that the Anglican church, or Church of England,

Henry VIII's second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, gave birth
to a daughter, who would later become Queen Elizabeth I, arguably the
strongest and most successful monarch, King or Queen, in the history of
Britain. The King still desired a male heir, a crown prince, and Anne
Boleyn's contrary nature was wearing on the King. Anne Boleyn also had
enemies at court, who helped bring about her downfall; accused of
adultery and plotting to kill the king, and thus treason, there was no
way for Anne to go, but to the headsman's block. The King had already
begun to court one of the ladies of the court, Jane Seymour, whom he
married shortly after.

Henry VIII's third wife, Queen Jane
Seymour succeeded in giving birth to an heir to the crown — Prince
Edward, who later succeeded his father to the English throne as King
Edward VI. Unfortunately, the Queen died a few days after childbirth
from an infection. The King's advisors, mainly Thomas Cromwell,
suggested a match for him with Anne of Cleves, but it appears Holbein's
portrait of Anne was more flattering than the reality. Anne became Henry
VIII's fourth wife, but the King was not attracted to her (and there
are stories that one of the reasons was her pervasive body odour), and
the marriage quickly resulted in divorce. Anne stayed in England,
however, and remained in good relations with the King and all three of
his children, as well as with his future queens.

King Henry
VIII's fifth wife was Catherine Howard. An attractive young lady, she
had been pushed into the marriage by her own ambition, as well as the
pressure of her powerful family. King Henry VIII, however, was no longer
a young man; he had become corpulent, and an old wound in his leg had
never healed but remained an oozing sore — hardly the romantic ideal for
a young woman. Further, the King had become irascible; long gone were
the days of courtly love, when he wrote love letters to Anne Boleyn.
Catherine soon started fooling around with young courtiers, and was
eventually caught: chopping block for her.

King Henry VIII's
sixth and last wife was Queen Katherine Parr. A well-educated lady, an
excellent writer with a keen intelligence and solid moral fiber,
Katherine Parr was the Queen to outlast the intrigues of court, the bad
temper of the King, and the general rigors of court life. She was a
sweet-tempered, kind person, and the children of King Henry VIII loved

When King Henry VIII died, he was succeeded by his son, King
Edward VI, the boy king. King Edward did not live very long, however,
and was succeeded by Queen Mary I. Queen Mary, who was Catholic like her
mother, married Philip II of Spain, a Catholic, and the English were in
uproar. There were many plots and conspiracies on her life, and she
grew very suspicious of her subjects — even of her sister, Elizabeth.
The Wyatt rebellion, headed by Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger, son of the
Poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, in particular seemed to suggest Elizabeth's
involvement in a conspiracy. Lady Elizabeth was taken to the Tower of
London, from where she wrote many letters to her sister, Queen Mary,
declaring her innocence. Mary finally believed her, and while Wyatt
suffered a traitor's death, Elizabeth was freed.

A few years
later Queen Mary died, probably of ovarian cancer, and Elizabeth
succeeded her on the throne as Queen Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen,
Gloriana, under whose reign the English Renaissance came to full bloom,
and the arts and literature, especially poetry and theatre, flourished.
It was in Queen Elizabeth's reign, the Elizabethan era, that English
literature gained its shining stars: Christopher Marlowe and William
Shakespeare. Early Modern literature would likely never have reached the
heights it did, had it not been for Queen Elizabeth.

1. Catherine
of Aragon

2. Anne

3. Jane

4. Anne
of Cleves

5. Catherine

6. Katherine
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Biography of the Henry the VIII (1491-1547)

KING HENRY VIII of England and Ireland, the third
child and second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, was born on
the 28th of June 1491 and, like all the Tudor monarchs except Henry VII,
at Greenwich Palace. His two brothers, Prince Arthur and Edmund, Duke
of Somerset, and two of his sisters predeceased their father; Henry VIII
was the only son, and Margaret Tudor, afterwards Queen of Scotland, and
Mary Tudor, afterwards Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk, were the
only daughters who survived. Henry VIII is said, on authority which has
not been traced farther back than Paolo Sarpi, to have been destined
for the church; but the story is probably a mere surmise from his
theological accomplishments, and from his earliest years high secular
posts such as the viceroyalty of Ireland were conferred upon the child.
He was the first English monarch to be educated under the influence of
the Renaissance, and his tutors included the poet Skelton; he became an
accomplished scholar, linguist, musician and athlete, and when by the
death of his brother Arthur in 1502 and of his father on the 22nd of
April 1509 Henry VIII succeeded to the throne, his accession was hailed
with universal acclamation.

He had been betrothed to his
brother's widow Catherine of Aragon, and in spite of the protest which
he had been made to register against the marriage, and of the doubts
expressed by Pope Julius II and Archbishop Warham as to its validity, it
was completed in the first few months of his reign. This step was
largely due to the pressure brought to bear by Catherine's father
Ferdinand upon Henry VIII's council; he regarded England as a tool in
his hands and Catherine as his resident ambassador. The young king
himself at first took little interest in politics, and for two years
affairs were managed by the pacific Richard Foxe and Warham. Then
Cardinal Wolsey became supreme, while Henry was immersed in the pursuit
of sport and other amusements.

He took, however, the keenest
interest from the first in learning and in the navy, and his inborn
pride easily led him to support Wolsey's and Ferdinand's war-like
designs on France. He followed an English army across the Channel in
1513, and personally took part in the successful sieges of Therouanne
and Tournay and the battle of Guinegate which led to the peace of 1514.
Ferdinand, however, deserted the English alliance, and amid the
consequent irritation against everything Spanish, there was talk of a
divorce between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon (1514), whose issue
had hitherto been attended with fatal misfortune. But the renewed
antagonism between England and France which followed the accession of
Francis I (1515) led to a rapprochement with Ferdinand; the birth of the
lady Mary (1516) held out hopes of the male issue which Henry so much
desired; and the question of a divorce was postponed.

died in that year (1516) and the emperor Maximilian in 1519. Their
grandson Charles V succeeded them both in all their realms and dignities
in spite of Henry VIII's hardly serious candidature for the empire; and
a lifelong rivalry broke out between him and Francis I. Wolsey used
this antagonism to make England arbiter between them; and both monarchs
sought England's favour in 1520, Francis at the Field of Cloth of Gold
and Charles V more quietly in Kent. At the conference of Calais in 1521
English influence reached its zenith; but the alliance with Charles
destroyed the balance on which that influence depended. Francis was
overweighted, and his defeat at Pavia in 1525 made the emperor supreme.
Feeble efforts to challenge his power in Italy provoked the sack of Rome
in 1527; and the peace of Cambrai in 1529 was made without any
reference to Wolsey or England's interests.

Meanwhile Henry VIII
had been developing a serious interest in politics, and he could brook
no superior in whatever sphere he wished to shine. He began to adopt a
more critical attitude towards Wolsey's policy, foreign and domestic;
and to give ear to the murmurs against the cardinal and his
ecclesiastical rule. Parliament had been kept at arm's length since 1515
lest it should attack the church; but Wolsey's expensive foreign policy
rendered recourse to parliamentary subsidies indispensable. When it met
in 1523 it refused Wolsey's demands, and forced loans were the result
which increased the cardinal's unpopularity. Nor did success abroad now
blunt the edge of domestic discontent. His fate, however, was sealed by
his failure to obtain a divorce for Henry VIII from the papal court.

king's hopes of male issue had been disappointed, and by 1526 it was
fairly certain that Henry VIII could have no male heir to the throne
while Catherine remained his wife. There was Mary, but no queen regnant
had yet ruled in England; Margaret Beaufort had been passed over in
favour of her son in 1485, and there was a popular impression that women
were excluded from the throne. No candidate living could have secured
the succession without a recurrence of civil war. Moreover the
unexampled fatality which had attended Henry's issue revived the
theological scruples which had always existed about the marriage; and
the breach with Charles V in 1527 provoked a renewal of the design of
1514. All these considerations were magnified by Henry VIII's passion
for Anne Boleyn, though she certainly was not the sole or the main cause
of the divorce. That the succession was the main point is proved by the
fact that Henry's efforts were all directed to securing a wife and not a
mistress. Wolsey persuaded him that the necessary divorce could be
obtained from Rome, as it had been in the case of Louis XII of France
and Margaret of Scotland. For a time Clement VII was inclined to concede
the demand, and Cardinal Campeggio in 1528 was given ample powers. But
the prospect of French success in Italy which had encouraged the pope
proved delusive, and in 1529 he had to submit to the yoke of Charles V.
This involved a rejection of Henry's suit, not because Charles cared
anything for his aunt, but because a divorce would mean disinheriting
Charles's cousin Mary, and perhaps the eventual succession of the son of
a French princess to the English throne.

Wolsey fell when
Campeggio was recalled, and his fall involved the triumph of the
anti-ecclesiastical party in England. Laymen who had resented their
exclusion from power were now promoted to offices such as those of lord
chancellor and lord privy seal which they had rarely held before; and
parliament was encouraged to propound lay grievances against the church.
On the support of the laity Henry VIII relied to abolish papal
jurisdiction and reduce clerical privilege and property in England; and
by a close alliance with Francis I he insured himself against the enmity
of Charles V. But it was only gradually that the breach was completed
with Rome. Henry had defended the papacy against Luther in 1521 and had
received in return the title " defender of the faith." He never liked
Protestantism, and he was prepared for peace with Rome on his own terms.
Those terms were impossible of acceptance by a pope in Clement VII's
position; but before Clement had made up his mind to reject them, Henry
had discovered that the papacy was hardly worth conciliating. His eyes
were opened to the extent of his own power as the exponent of national
antipathy to papal jurisdiction and ecclesiastical privilege; and his
appetite for power grew. With Cromwell's help he secured parliamentary
support, and its usefulness led him to extend parliamentary
representation to Wales and Calais, to defend the privileges of
Parliament, and to yield rather than forfeit its confidence. He had
little difficulty in securing the Acts of Annates, Appeals and Supremacy
which completed the separation from Rome, or the dissolution of the
monasteries which, by transferring enormous wealth from the church to
the crown, really, in Cecil's opinion, ensured the reformation.

abolition of the papal jurisdiction removed all obstacles to the
divorce from Catherine and to the legalization of Henry VIII's marriage
with Anne Boleyn (1533). But the recognition of the royal supremacy
could only be enforced at the cost of the heads of Sir Thomas More,
Bishop Fisher and a number of monks and others among whom the
Carthusians signalized themselves by their devotion (1535-1536). Anne
Boleyn fared no better than the Catholic martyrs; she failed to produce a
male heir to the throne, and her conduct afforded a jury of peers, over
which her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, presided, sufficient excuse for
condemning her to death on a charge of adultery (1536). Henry VIII then
married Jane Seymour, who was obnoxious to no one, gave birth to Edward
VI, and then died (1537). The dissolution of the monasteries had
meanwhile evoked a popular protest in the north, and it was only by
skilful and unscrupulous diplomacy that Henry VIII was enabled to
suppress so easily the Pilgrimage of Grace. Foreign intervention was
avoided through the renewal of war between Francis and Charles; and the
insurgents were hampered by having no rival candidate for the throne and
no means of securing the execution of their programme.

their rising warned Henry VIII against further doctrinal change. He had
authorized the English Bible and some approach towards Protestant
doctrine in the Ten Articles. He also considered the possibility of a
political and theological alliance with the Lutheran princes of Germany.
But in 1538 he definitely rejected their theological terms, while in
1539-1540 they rejected his political proposals. By the statute of Six
Articles (1539) he took his stand on Catholic doctrine; and when the
Lutherans had rejected his alliance, and Cromwell's nominee, Anne of
Cleves, had proved both distasteful on personal grounds and unnecessary
because Charles and Francis were not really projecting a Catholic
crusade against England, Anne was divorced and Cromwell beheaded.

new queen Catherine Howard represented the triumph of the reactionary
party under Gardiner and Norfolk; but there was no idea of returning to
the papal obedience, and even Catholic orthodoxy as represented by the
Six Articles was only enforced by spasmodic outbursts of persecution and
vain attempts to get rid of Cranmer. The secular importance of Henry's
activity has been somewhat obscured by his achievements in the sphere of
ecclesiastical politics; but no small part of his energies was devoted
to the task of expanding the royal authority at the expense of temporal
competitors. Feudalism was not yet dead, and in the north and west there
were medieval franchises in which the royal writ and common law hardly
ran at all. Wales and its marches were brought into legal union with the
rest of England by the statutes of Wales (1534-1536); and after the
Pilgrimage of Grace the Council of the North was set up to bring into
subjection the extensive jurisdictions of the northern earls. Neither
they nor the lesser chiefs who flourished on the lack of common law and
order could be reduced by ordinary methods, and the Councils of Wales
and of the North were given summary powers derived from the Roman civil
law similiar to those exercised by the Star Chamber at Westminster and
the court of Castle Chamber at Dublin.

Ireland had been left by
Wolsey to wallow in its own disorder; but disorder was anathema to
Henry's mind, and in 1535 Sir William Skeffington was sent to apply
English methods and artillery to the government of Ireland. Sir Anthony
St Leger continued his policy from 1540; Henry VIII, instead of being
merely lord of Ireland dependent on the pope, was made by an Irish act
of parliament king, and supreme head of the Irish church. Conciliation
was also tried with some success; plantation schemes were rejected in
favour of an attempt to Anglicize the Irish; their chieftains were
created earls and endowed with monastic lands; and so peaceful was
Ireland in 1542 that the lord-deputy could send Irish kernes and
gallowglasses to fight against the Scots.

Henry VIII, however,
seems to have believed as much in the coercion of Scotland as in the
conciliation of Ireland. Margaret Tudor's marriage had not reconciled
the realms; and as soon as James V became a possible pawn in the hands
of Charles V, Henry VIII bethought himself of his old claims to
suzerainty over Scotland. At first he was willing to subordinate them to
an attempt to win over Scotland to his anti-papal policy, and he made
various efforts to bring about an interview with his nephew. But James V
was held aloof by Beaton and two French marriages; and France was
alarmed by Henry's growing friendliness with Charles V, who was
mollified by his cousin Mary's restoration to her place in the
succession to the throne. In 1542 James madly sent a Scottish army to
ruin at Solway Moss; his death a few weeks later left the Scottish
throne to his infant daughter Mary Stuart, and Henry set to work to
secure her hand for his son Edward and the recognition of his own
suzerainty. A treaty was signed with the Scottish estates; but it was
torn up a few months later under the influence of Beaton and the
queen-dowager Mary of Guise, and Hertford was sent in 1544 to punish
this breach of promise by sacking Edinburgh.

Perhaps to prevent
French intervention in Scotland, Henry VIII joined Charles V in invading
France, and captured Boulogne (Sept. 1544). But Charles left his ally
in the lurch and concluded the peace of Crepy that same month; and in
1545 Henry had to face alone a French invasion of the Isle of Wight.
This attack proved abortive, and peace between England and France was
made in 1546. Charles V's desertion inclined Henry to listen to the
proposals of the threatened Lutheran princes, and the last two years of
his reign were marked by a renewed tendency to advance in a Protestant
direction. Catherine Howard had been brought to the block (1542) on
charges in which there was probably a good deal of truth, and her
successor, Catherine Parr, was a patroness of the new learning. An act
of 1545 dissolved chantries, colleges and other religious foundations;
and in the autumn of 1546 the Spanish ambassador was anticipating
further anti-ecclesiastical measures. Gardiner had almost been sent to
the Tower, and Norfolk and Surrey were condemned to death, while Cranmer
asserted that it was Henry VIII's intention to convert the mass into a
communion service. An opportunist to the last, he would readily have
sacrificed any theological convictions he may have had in the interests
of national uniformity. He died on the 28th of January 1547, and was
buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor.

The atrocity of many of
Henry VIII's acts, the novelty and success of his religious policy, the
apparent despotism of his methods, or all combined, have made it
difficult to estimate calmly the importance of Henry VIII's work or the
conditions which made it possible. Henry's egotism was profound, and
personal motives underlay his public action. While political and
ecclesiastical conditions made the breach with Rome possible — and in
the view of most Englishmen desirable — Henry was led to adopt the
policy by private considerations. He worked for the good of the state
because he thought his interests were bound up with those of the nation;
and it was the real coincidence of this private and public point of
view that made it possible for so selfish a man to achieve so much for
his country. The royal supremacy over the church and the means by which
it was enforced were harsh and violent expedients; but it was of the
highest importance that England should be saved from religious civil
war, and it could only be saved by a despotic government. It was
necessary for the future development of England that its governmental
system should be centralized and unified, that the authority of the
monarchy should be more firmly extended over Wales and the western and
northern borders, and that the still existing feudal franchises should
be crushed; and these objects were worth the price paid in the methods
of the Star Chamber and of the Councils of the North and of Wales.

VIII's work on the navy requires no apology; without it Elizabeth's
victory over the Spanish Armada, the liberation of the Netherlands and
the development of English colonies would have been impossible; and "of
all others the year 1545 best marks the birth of the English naval
power" (Corbett, Drake, i. 59). His judgment was more at fault when he
conquered Boulogne and sought by violence to bring Scotland into union
with England. But at least Henry appreciated the necessity of union
within the British Isles; and his work in Ireland relaid the foundations
of English rule. No less important was his development of the
parliamentary system. Representation was extended to Wales, Cheshire,
Berwick and Calais; and parliamentary authority was enhanced, largely
that it might deal with the church, until men began to complain of this
new parliamentary infallibility. The privileges of the two Houses were
encouraged and expanded, and parliament was led to exercise ever wider
powers. This policy was not due to any belief on Henry's part in
parliamentary government, but to opportunism, to the circumstance that
parliament was willing to do most of the things which Henry desired,
while competing authorities, the church and the old nobility, were not.
Nevertheless, to the encouragement given by Henry VIII, parliament owed
not a little of its future growth, and to the aid rendered by parliament
Henry VIII owed his success.

He has been described as a "despot
under the forms of law"; and it is apparently true that he committed no
illegal act. His despotism consists not in any attempt to rule
unconstitutionally, but in the extraordinary degree to which he was able
to use constitutional means in the furtherance of his own personal
ends. His industry, his remarkable political insight, his lack of
scruple, and his combined strength of will and subtlety of intellect
enabled him to utilize all the forces which tended at that time towards
strong government throughout western Europe. In Michelet's words, "le
nouveau Messie est le roi"; and the monarchy alone seemed capable of
guiding the state through the social and political anarchy which
threatened all nations in their transition from medieval to modern
organization. The king was the emblem, the focus and the bond of
national unity; and to preserve it men were ready to put up with
vagaries which to other ages seem intolerable. Henry VIII could thus
behead ministers and divorce wives with comparative impunity, because
the individual appeared to be of little importance compared with the
state. This impunity provoked a licence which is responsible for the
unlovely features of Henry VIII's reign and character. The elevation and
the isolation of his position fostered a detachment from ordinary
virtues and compassion, and he was a remorseless incarnation of
Machiavelli's Prince. He had an elastic conscience which was always at
the beck and call of his desire, and he cared little for principle. But
he had a passion for efficiency, and for the greatness of England and
himself. His mind, in spite of its clinging to the outward forms of the
old faith, was intensely secular; and he was as devoid of a moral sense
as he was of a genuine religious temperament. His greatness consists in
his practical aptitude, in his political perception, and in the
self-restraint which enabled him to confine within limits tolerable to
his people an insatiable appetite for power.

The original
materials for Henry VIII's biography are practically all incorporated in
the monumental Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry (21 vols.),
edited by Brewer and Gairdner and completed after fifty years' labour in
1910. A few further details may be gleaned from such contemporary
sources as Hall's Chronicle, Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, W. Thomas's The
Pilgrim and others; and some additions have been made to the
documentary sources contained in the Letters and Papers by recent works,
such as Ehses' Romische Dokumente, and Merriman's Life and Letters of
Thomas Cromwell. Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Life and Reign of Henry
(1649), while good for its time, is based upon a very partial knowledge
of the sources and somewhat antiquated principles of historical
scholarship. Froude's famous portraiture of Henry VIII is coloured by
the ideas of hero-worship and history which the author imbibed from
Carlyle, and the rival portraits in Lingard, R. W. Dixon's Church
History and Gasquet's Henry and the Monasteries by strong religious
feeling. A more discriminating estimate is attempted by H. A. L. Fisher
in Messrs Longmans' Political History of England, vol. v. (1906).

the numerous paintings of Henry VIII none is by Holbein, who, however,
executed the striking chalk-drawing of Henry's head, now at Munich, and
the famous but decaying cartoon at Devonshire House. The well-known
threequarter length at Windsor, usually attributed to Holbein, is by an
inferior artist. The best collection of Henry VIII's portraits was
exhibited at the Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1909, and the catalogue of
that exhibition contains the best description of them; several are
reproduced in Pollard's Henry (Goupil) (1902), the letterpress of which
was published by Longmans in a cheaper edition (1905). Henry VIII
composed numerous state papers still extant; his only book was his
Assertio septem sacramentorum contra M. Lutherum (1521), a copy of
which, signed by Henry himself, is at Windsor. Several anthems composed
by him are extant; and one at least, O Lord, the Maker of all Things, is
still occasionally rendered in English cathedrals.
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مُساهمةموضوع: رد: Six Wives of Henry VIII   2011-08-14, 20:03

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Six Wives of Henry VIII
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