King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII is probably the most famous, or infamous King that England has ever had. With intrigue at court, mistresses and six wives, the reign of Henry VIII was full of shocks and surprises. Religious change, conflict on the continent and with the Scots and financial problems dominated the politics of his reign.
Henry had never expected to become King of England, his older brother, Arthur, was due to become King until his early death. As King Henry VIII this young monarch, he was only 17 when he was crowned, was incredibly popular. One of his first acts was to reduce the level of taxation that his father had imposed on his subjects. He also had the organisers of the tax regime executed! These measures ensured that the English and Welsh people liked the new King. They also warmed to him as he was an energetic fun loving King.
Henry’s government was run largely by Ministers on his behalf, Henry, in the early years of his Kingship at least, did not like government. Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon, his dead brothers widow. This marriage made sure that the strong links with Spain were retained.
Problems for Henry began when it became clear to him that his wife, Catherine of Aragon, was not going to produce a male heir to the throne. Catherine had given birth to several children but only one of them, Mary, live beyond infancy. Henry was very anxious to have a son. Without one the Tudor dynasty would end almost as quickly as it had begun. Henry thought long and hard about what to do about this problem, and at the same time he started to fall in love with a young courtier called Anne Boleyn. Henry, decided to remarry.
This act turned the religious world upside down and ended all links with Rome, from where the roman Catholic Church was controlled. The impact of these changes and the way in which it affected life in Britain were both huge. They are analysed in greater detail in these pages The Split with Rome and The Protestant Reformation. Henry married six times in all and did have a son who could inherit his throne.