Research Proposal: King Henry VIII

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King Henry VIII

Henry VIII was one of the most influential monarchs of England. From his scandalous marital life and his ruthlessness to the break of the English's church from Rome, Henry secured his place firmly in history. Following is a biographical outline of the life of King Hernry VIII.

Early Life:

Henry was born in the royal palace at Greenwich, on June 28, 1491. His early education was directed by the poet laureat John Skelton. Henry was not only very athletic, enjoying jousting, tilting and other sports, but he also had a keen mind. He spoke at least three languages and some of his music compositions are still performed today. Although Henry was the second son of King Henry VII, with the death of his older brother, Arthur, in April 1502 Henry became heir to the throne of England and Prince of Wales. Fourteen months later, in June 1503, at the age of 12, Henry was also betrothed to Catherine of Aragon -- his brother's widow and the daughter of Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Spain1. When Henry VII died in April 1509, Henry VIII became King of England2, setting England on a new course of history, albeit a tumultuous course.

War and Wolsey:

The first two decades of King Henry VIII's reign was dominated by war and rumors of war. From the beginning, Henry instigated what could be considered a renewal of the Hundred Years' War. Eager to prove his military prowess, Henry led a large English army, in 1513, into northern France, capturing the towns of Therouanne and Tournai, in the famous Battle of the Spurs.3 It was also during this time that Thomas Wolsey began to rise in power as the cardinal archbishop of York and lord chancellor of England.4 Wolsey would prove to have a significant influence on the king.

Despite Wolsey's desire for international prestige, he worked to dissuade Henry from his military maneuvers. It was Wolsey's efforts that had King Henry VIII returning to France in 1520, but not as a force of invasion, instead to embrace the King of France, in the last ritual display of medieval chivalry -- the Field of Cloth of Gold. Of course Henry's love for war could not rest long, and he joined forces with Emperor Charles V against France, from 1522 to 1527, despite Wolsey's efforts.5 It was also Wolsey who served as the catalyst for Henry's writing of his "Assertio septem sacramentorym (in 1521) a defense against Luther of traditional Catholic teaching on the sacraments, which won for him, from Pope Leo X, the title of Defender of the Faith -- a title the English crown still boasts." 6 Six years later, however, Henry's familial life would be the thread that would unravel the strongly knit bond between the Defender of the Faith and the Roman Church.

King Henry VIII, The English Church and its Break with Rome:

King Henry VIII's early reign showed Henry to be a loyal member of the Roman Church. However, his familial life would lead to the eventual severance of The Church of England from the papacy. Henry's wife, Catherine of Aragon, had been pregnant numerous time, by the mid-1520s. However, only one daughter, Mary, survived. With Catherine past her childbearing years and a failure for her to produce a male heir to the throne, Henry was rightly concerned about the political stability of his kingdom. By 1526, Henry's fancy had turned to Anne Bolelyn; however, Bolelyn refused to simply be Henry's mistress. She wanted a permanent relationship with the king.7

One year later, Henry was determined to divorce Catherine, basing his claim on the fact that a marriage to his brother's widow… [END OF PREVIEW]

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King Henry VIII.  (2009, April 25).  Retrieved August 23, 2019, from

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"King Henry VIII."  April 25, 2009.  Accessed August 23, 2019.