The history of the Tudor Kings of England is rich with comparisons and contradiction. When writing a research paper on the history of Henry III or any Tudor King, a great approach is to compare and contrast Kings. Paper Masters can show you how to do this with a custom research paper on Henry VIII.
Reigning during the period of the English Renaissance, the character of the Kings was scrutinized by historians as reasons why the Renaissance took place and for its accomplishments. The character of the nation was reflected in its monarchy and England was proud of both Henry VII and Henry VIII, each for different reasons. However, no two Kings could be more different then Henry VII and Henry VIII. In examining their character, it is obvious that both began ruling with high ideals but opposite goals. However, both Henry’s came full circle in achieving prosperity for England.
Henry VIII in Historical Context
Henry VIII (1491-1547) was the second Tudor monarch. He was the younger son of King Henry VII, but his elder brother Arthur died in 1502 at the age of 15. Henry was quickly betrothed to his young brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, as part of an alliance between England and Spain. Henry became king upon the death of his father in 1509, and married Catherine. After several miscarriages and still births, Catherine gave birth to an heir: Princess Mary.
Henry VIII - The Man
Henry VIII was tall and looked to be in the image of a “Greek god”. He was athletic, hypnotic and infectious with energy as a young King. With little training for the crown, Henry VIII enthusiasm for his new post spread throughout England as he quickly adopted style and an affinity for ruling as a popular King. His tastes reached into the extravagant as he employed 500 staff for the service of the King and 147 for the Queen. Henry kept “minons” which were young men who drank and jousted with him until all hours of the night. His extravagance became infamous and not until the economic hardships that befell England in 1522, was he questioned directly for his behavior.
Henry was known for his mistresses and his attempt to divorce Catherine of Aragon in 1527. A papal dispensation had been granted to permit the marriage in the first place, so the Pope was disinclined to grant Henry his divorce. The end result was Henry’s withdrawal from Catholicism and founding of the Protestant Church of England.
Henry VIII, in his attempt to produce a male heir, eventually had six wives.
- Catherine of Aragon
- Anne Boleyn
- Jane Seymour
- Anne of Cleves
- Katherine Howard
- Katherine Parr
His second wife, Anne Boleyn, gave birth to Elizabeth I. Henry later executed Anne, accusing her of adultery and treason. His third wife, Jane Seymour, died giving birth to the prince who would become Edward VI.
The Legacy of Henry VIII
Henry VIII is perhaps most famously remembered for his obesity, dating from a jousting accident. Much of Henry’s reign was more concerned with his finding a wife and producing an heir, rather than foreign policy. This was the era when the Renaissance flourished in England, setting the stage for the Elizabethan Era.
Henry VIII was an outstanding musician, scholar, linguist, and athlete, but is perhaps better known for changing the course of religious history. In his determination to put a male heir on the throne he petitioned the Catholic Church for an annulment to his twenty-year marriage to Catherine of Aragon. When Pope Clement refused the annulment King Henry VIII formed the Church of England, declaring himself as head. From that time on, England has had its own state religion headed by the monarch. Anyone who opposed this change was beheaded. One Catholic martyr, Sir Thomas More, was beheaded for this very reason. Henry’s legacy is one of ruthless change, his court was filled by men who began with good intentions, like Henry, but who likewise fell to the corruption of the game of politics and royalty.