What Do You Know About Henry VIII?

King Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. Public domain.

Tommy and Nick meet King Henry VIII when they land in 1540 and are, understandably, terrified. Were they right to be? Here are a few fun facts about England’s most notorious king.

  • Henry was never supposed to be king; his older brother, Arthur, was. Arthur died young, making Henry the next in line to the throne.
  • Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was first married to Henry’s older brother, Arthur. She was a pretty Spanish princess, the daughter of the famous Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. As soon as he turned eighteen, Henry married Katherine. He later divorced her because they only had one living child. Their daughter, Mary, would later become the Queen of England for a short time.
  • When he was young, Henry was very good-looking and athletic. He was also known for being happy and generous. A jousting accident left him with an incurable wound on his leg. He also hit his head, hard, leaving him unconscious for several hours. After that, it was painful for him to do physical things and he gained a lot of weight. He also became ruthless and ordered many executions. Some experts say that his cruelty was a result of that jousting accident, but we’ll never know for sure.
  • Henry was responsible for changing the official religion of England from Catholicism to Protestantism. The Pope would not grant him a divorce from Katherine of Aragon so he separated from the Church and created the Church of England and put himself in charge. With the help of his trusted advisors, he allowed himself to divorce Katherine and then married Anne Boleyn.
  • Henry was terrified of germs and death. When his son, Prince Edward VI was born, he ordered that the nursery walls and floor to be washed every day. When Prince Edward’s mother, Jane Seymour, died twelve days after giving birth to Edward, Henry immediately left the palace for another one.
King Henry VIII, Queen Jane Seymour, and Prince Edward VI, by Hans Holbein. Public domain.
  • Henry was a large man, but it is documented that he had a high, squeaky voice.
  • Henry had four children: Mary (with Katherine of Aragon), Henry Richmond (with his mistress, Bessie Blount), Elizabeth (with Anne Boleyn), and Edward (with Jane Seymour).
  • Henry ordered the executions of several people whom were family or whom he had considered friends at one time.

So, what’s your take on the infamous king? Leave a comment below.

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