Henry VIII


Born: 28 June 1491
Died: 28 January 1547
Birthplace: Greenwich, England
Best known as: The king of England who had six wives

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509-1547 and remains one of that country's most famous and controversial kings. Henry's hearty appetites and fickle passions are legendary, and his demand for a male heir led him to marry six different women. (Two of those wives, Anne Boleyn and Katharine Howard, were executed on his order.) Henry's divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, led the king to split with the Catholic Church and found his own church, the Church of England, which in turn set the stage for the English Reformation and for religious battles which lasted for centuries. (It also led to his famous clash with Sir Thomas More, who was tried for treason and executed.) Henry is also known for his great girth; his obesity probably contributed to his death at age 56. He was succeeded by Edward VI, his short-lived son with Jane Seymour. Henry's daughter with Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, eventually took the throne and became one of England's most powerful and longest-reigning monarchs.

Extra credit:

The king’s life story was told by William Shakespeare in his play Henry VIII… According to the official site of the British royal family, Henry “was an accomplished player of many instruments and a composer. ‘Greensleeves,’ the popular melody frequently attributed to him is, however, almost certainly not one of his compositions”… He has been played onscreen many times, by actors including Robert Shaw (A Man For All Seasons, 1966), Charlton Heston (Crossed Swords, 1977), Eric Bana (The Other Boleyn Girl, 2008), and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (the TV series Tudors, 2007.)

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