Henry VIII

Portrait of Henry VIII

Born: 1491
Died: 1547
Reigned: 1509–47

  • Second son of Henry VII; received the education of a Renaissance prince
  • Granted the title Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith) by the Pope for a treatise against Luther
  • His first wife, Catherine of Aragon (mother of Mary I), failed to bear a male heir so Henry VIII sought a divorce
  • The Pope’s refusal led to the break with Rome, the establishment of the Church of England and the Dissolution of the Monasteries
  • The surviving children from his six marriages succeeded him in turn as Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I
  • In addition to his father’s residences (Greenwich and Richmond), he built several palaces, including St James’s and Nonsuch (demolished under Charles II)
  • At Windsor (where he is buried), added a new stone entrance gateway, and a timber wharf (later the North Terrace) along the north side of the Upper Ward
  • Appropriated Whitehall and Hampton Court from the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, and during the Dissolution seized numerous monastic buildings for royal use
  • Attracted many foreign artists to England, including the illuminator and miniaturist Horenbout and the painter Holbein
  • Brought German and Flemish armourers to Greenwich
  • Commissioned effigies for the tombs of his parents and grandmother (Margaret Beaufort) in Westminster Abbey from the Italian sculptor Torrigiano
  • Assembled important collections of tapestries and of portraits of English and European royal personages

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