A. Early Life
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.
B. Marriage to Katherine of Aragon
He had been betrothed to his brother’s widow Katherine 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 Katherine’s father Ferdinand upon Henry VIII’s council; he regarded England as a tool in his hands and Katherine 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.
Ferdinand 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.
The 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.
D. Marriage to Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour
The 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.
E. After the death of Jane Seymour
Nevertheless 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.
F. Kathryn Howard’s years as queen and execution
The 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.
G. Marriage to Catherine Parr, final years and death
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.
II. Spouses and children
A. Katherine of Aragon (Divorce)
B. Anne Boleyn (Beheaded)
C. Jane Seymour (Died)
D. By other wives:
Note: Anne of Cleves never had issue, since she was annulled from Henry.
No Issue by Kathryn Howard
No Issue by Catherine Parr
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1. Jesus condemned to death Mark 15:1-5, 15
2. Jesus is given his cross John 19:6, 15-17
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets his mother
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross Mark 15:21
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus*
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem Luke 23:27-31
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments John 19:23-24
11. Jesus is nailed to the cross Luke 23:33-34
12. Jesus dies on the cross Luke 23:44-46
13. Jesus’ body is removed from the cross
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb Matthew 27:57-60
1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane Matthew 26:36-41
2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested Mark 14:43-46
3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin Luke 22:66-71
4. Jesus is denied by St. Peter Matthew 26:69-75
5. Jesus is judged by Pontius Pilate Mark 15:1-5, 15
6. Jesus is sourged at the pillar and crowned with thorns John 19:1-3
7. Jesus Bears the Cross John 19:6, 15-17
8. Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross Mark 15:21
9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem Luke 23:27-31
10. Jesus is crucified Luke 23:33-34
11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the good thief Luke 23:39-43
12. Jesus speaks to his mother and the beloved disciple John 19:25-27
13. Jesus dies on the cross Luke 23:44-46
14. Jesus is placed in the tomb Matthew 27:57-60
1. The Last Supper Matthew 26:26-30
2. The Garden of Gethsemane Matthew 26:36-41; Luke 22:40-46
3. Jesus before Pilate Mark 15:1-5, 15; John 19:4-16
4. The Scourging and the crowning with thorns John 19:1-3; Mark 15:15-20
5. The Receiving of the cross John 19:6, 15-17
6. The Fall
7. Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26
8. The Women of Jerusalem Luke 23:27-31
9. The Stripping of his Garments John 19:23-24
10. The Good Thief Luke 23:39-43
11. Mary and John Below the cross John 19:25-27
12. The Death of Jesus Luke 23:44-46; Mark 15:33-39; John 19:30
13. The laying in the tomb Matthew 27:57-61; Luke 23:53-54
14. The Resurrection Matthew 28:1-7
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