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|Doc. Henry VIII|
Arthur died a few months after he had married Catherine of Aragon in 1502. Henry was ten years old at the time. As Henry VII was interested in Catherine of Aragon's dowry, some arrangements were made for Henry to marry her.
Henry became King of England after his father's death on April 22, 1509. He was eighteen years old. His reign would last 38 years.
As a young man, Henry was athletic, tall and full of enthusiasm. The young Henry does not at all correspond to the fat balding old man that he would be at the end of his life.
Henry is said to have had a great influence over the British Court and to have contributed to the English Renaissance. But Henry was particularly famous for the schism from the Church of Rome and his six wives.
Henry asked that his marriage should be annulled. Cardinal Wolsey – the Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of York – started negotiations with the Pope Clement VII, unsuccessfully. Wolsey died little after his failure.
Wolsey's secretary, Thomas Cromwell suggested that Henry should do without the Pope's consent and should break from the Church of Rome. Though Henry strongly believed in the Roman Catholic principles, he agreed and divorced his wife in 1533.
He became the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Henry's break with Rome was the prelude to the Reformation.
The dissolution of the monasteries was organised by Cromwell not particularly to reform the Church but to enrich the Crown: heretics were burnt, Catholics were stolen their lands and riches.
On January 28, 1547, Henry died leaving the throne to his 10 year-old-son Edward.
His second wife was Ann Boleyn: he espoused her in 1533. She gave him a daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I. Ann Boleyn was executed – more precisely beheaded – for infidelity three years after the marriage in 1536.
Then he led Jane Seymour to the altar in May 1536. She died little later while giving birth to the future King's heir: Edward VI.
In 1540, he wedded Anne Of Clèves, but the marriage was never consummated and soon annulled.
Catherine Howard became Henry's fifth wife in July 1540 but she was beheaded for adultery in 1542.
Finally, Catherine Parr was Henry's last wife in 1543. She remained Henry's wife till he died in 1547.
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