Henry VIII


Henry VIII    1491 - 1547

    King of England 1509-1547

Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Henry VIII was the King of England from 1509 to 1547. He was one of England's most powerful rulers. He was also one the most famous Tudor Kings. During his reign, England became the center of Renaissance culture.

Henry VIII was born in Greenwich Place, England, on June 28, 1491. His birth name was Henry Tudor. He was the second son of Henry VII (King of England) and Elizabeth of York. Henry was not the heir to the throne because he was the second son. However, Henry's older brother, Arthur, died, and Henry became the heir.

The War of the Roses
From 1455 to 1485, England was divided between two families fighting for control of the throne. The two families were the House of York and the House of Lancaster. Each house was represented by a rose. The House of York used a white rose, and the House of Lancaster used a red rose. The division between the two families became known as The War of the Roses.

The War of the Roses ended when Henry VII (representing the Lancaster family) and Elizabeth of York (representing the York family) were married. This marriage united the two families, and Henry VII became the first Tudor King of England.

The Tudor Rose
The Tudor family is represented by the Tudor Rose. It is a rose which combines both a red and a white rose. The Tudor Rose symbolized the union between the red rose of the House of Lancaster and the white rose of the House of York.

The union of the two families was reaffirmed when the son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York became King. This King was Henry VIII. Henry VIII's coronation stabilized the throne in England. He was a strong king and ruled for many years. Did you know Henry VIII's coronation took place at Westminster Abbey?

The Renaissance
The Renaissance was spreading throughout Europe during Henry's reign. Renaissance is a French word meaning "rebirth." It was a time of great achievements in painting, sculpture, literature, architecture, and science.

Henry had a strong interest in culture and education. He was influential in bringing the Renaissance to England. The Renaissance culture continued in England through the reign of Elizabeth I. Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VIII.

Henry Changed the Monarchy
Henry founded the modern English nation. He was the link between medieval and modern England.

Henry unified and centralized the administrative power, increased the role of the Parliament, and improved England's naval defenses. In 1536, the Act of Union between England and Wales brought Wales into union with England.

The Church of England
In 1533, Henry broke with the Catholic Church in Rome. He established the Church of England and became its Supreme Head. This led to a major shift in the religious power in England and Europe.

Trinity College
The University of Cambridge is made up of several Colleges. Two of these Colleges were King's Hall and Michaelhouse. In 1546, Henry combined these Colleges and founded Trinity College to produce future leaders of the Church of England.

Henry chose King's Hall because of its connection with the Royal Court and public service. This royal connection remains today, and several members of the royal family have been members of Trinity College.

During the first 100 years, Trinity College grew in size and importance. Today, Trinity College is the largest of the thirty-one Colleges which make up the University of Cambridge. Also, the alumni of Trinity College consists of many brilliant people, including Sir Isaac Newton and 31 Nobel Prize winners.

Did you know the University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world and one of the largest in the United Kingdom? Did you know the city of Cambridge took its name from the bridge across the River Cam?

Henry's Heirs
Henry had three children named Mary, Elizabeth, and Edward. Mary was the daughter of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Elizabeth was the daughter of his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Edward was the son of his third wife, Jane Seymour. (Henry had a total of six wives.)

When Henry died, Edward became King. His name was Edward VI. However, Edward died six years later without any children, and his half-sister, Mary, became Queen. Her name was Mary I. Mary also died shortly after taking the throne, and Elizabeth became Queen. Her name was Elizabeth I. She ruled England for many years, and her reign is known as the Elizabethan Era.

Remembering Henry
Henry died at Whitehall, England, on January 28, 1547. He was 55 years old. He was buried next to his third wife, Jane Seymour, in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Trinity College erected a statue of Henry at the Great Gate. As its founder, Henry's name is strongly associated with Trinity College.

Henry was a powerful ruler and credited with bringing the Renaissance to England.

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©  2009 D. K. Malowney