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Macmillan Amazon. Margaret George. George first got the idea to write historical fiction when, after reading numerous novels that viewed Henry VIII through the eyes of his enemies and victims, she started to wonder if there might be another story. She became determined to let Henry speak for himself, and it took fifteen years, about three hundred books of background reading, three visits to England to see every extant building associated with Henry, and five handwritten drafts for her to answer the question: What was Henry really like?

Everyone recognises his portrait: a fat, larger-than-life individual, wearing clothes set with jewels and sporting a neat red beard. This is Henry in later life: in his youth he was handsome and athletic, the most eligible prince in Europe. Henry was also a complex man: intelligent, boisterous, flamboyant, extravagant. Athletic, musical, a poet. Ruthless, arrogant, passionate. The decisions that Henry made during his reign were to shape modern Britain.

He was 6 feet 2 inches tall, with a pale skin and auburn hair. He was athletic, a man of action and enjoyed all kinds of sport: hunting, jousting, real tennis, riding.

He was also a musician; he played the flute, the lute and the organ. He wrote poetry. An avid reader, he owned a library of almost a thousand books. In , Henry founded Trinity College, Cambridge. It can be argued that Henry founded the modern English nation.

The unification of Ireland was also achieved during his reign. Henry increased the role of the Parliament, particularly regarding taxation. Field of the Cloth of Gold. It was important for a 16th century king to appear all-powerful but this was costly. The event was meant to show a united front between the kingdoms of England and France in the face of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Each king tried to outdo the other in tournaments, feasting, clothes and jewels during a celebration that lasted for weeks and cost a fortune.

Wolsey was the son of an Ipswich butcher, a highly intelligent man who became rich and powerful, rising to the position of Lord Chancellor and Cardinal in Henry had therefore received little tutoring in politics and government, and was happy to rely on his friend Wolsey to advise him. Constantly changing alliances between nations dominated Europe in the 16th century.

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His wars against France were on the whole unsuccessful and costly. Victory against the Scots at the Battle of Flodden served only to strengthen the alliance between the Scots and the French. Henry was infatuated with Anne Bolelyn, one of the ladies-in-waiting to the Queen, and marriage to Anne would hopefully give Henry the male heir he so desperately wanted.

Anne returned to England in and became a popular figure at court. By Henry was deeply in love with her. Henry was desperate for an heir to continue the Tudor dynasty and to avoid any future civil war. Twenty years of marriage to Catherine had resulted in just one surviving child, Mary , and now at the age of 40, Catherine was unlikely to bear any more children.

She had married Arthur in , but was widowed aged just It took a further seven years before Henry and Catherine were married in Hampton Court Palace. Many of his actions as king still resonate today. The break with Rome, the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries had profound and lasting effects.

He was a paradox: a strong ruler, yet an anxious, insecure man. After that, the King married five more times in a little over ten years! As Henry VII, the new king sought to bring an end to war by marrying Elizabeth of York, while his clever political and financial management returned England to some sort of stability.

Henry was born at Greenwich Palace on 28 June All hopes for a Tudor dynasty rested on the elder boy Arthur. The unknown painter included Henry's siblings who died at birth or soon afterwards. Little official attention was given to his birth, compared to his elder brother Arthur. At five, Arthur was growing into a fine boy, clever and sporting. They were raised mostly apart. In , when Henry was 10, Arthur married Katherine of Aragon.

Life changed overnight for Prince Henry. He ceased to be in an all-female household.

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His father appointed several new male attendants to help prepare the boy for his new role. She was expecting another baby although the pregnancy was not progressing well. Within a few days, both she and her infant daughter died, plunging the family into fresh grief. Elizabeth of York by an unknown artist, late 16th century, based on a work of circa Two years later, just before his 13th birthday, young Henry joined the royal household. Whenever the Prince wished to go out to hunt or joust he had to be accompanied at all times.


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This must have been as frustrating for the young Henry as it was for others at court. But as he grew into a young man, Henry flourished. Charming and accomplished, he wrote music and poetry and threw himself into all the sports of the Tudor court — hunting, jousting, wrestling, swordplay, hawking and tennis. Henry VIII was only 17, but his youthful vigour and his dual Yorkist and Lancastrian blood made him the physical embodiment of a new beginning for the English nation. As was the custom, set by generations of medieval monarchs, Henry spent the night before his coronation at the Tower of London, before processing to Westminster Abbey.

The Tower was the nation's oldest and most symbolic royal residence. Taking control of the Tower meant taking control of the country. Henry would be the first adult prince to inherit the throne peacefully from his father in almost years. At 23, she was over five years older than Henry, and we know little of what they felt for each other.

Henry and Katherine spent the next few months in a constant round of parties, tournaments and feasts. As partners, Henry and Katherine were well-matched.

Wives of King Henry VIII - Wikipedia

They shared a similar education and piety, loved finery and display, rode and hunted together. Everywhere he went, Henry surrounded himself with rich displays of gold and silver. Naturally, Henry's armour made a powerful statement, too. The masterful armourers adapted a number of existing pieces and created this beautiful suit. The armour also reflected Henry's fashion sense; the shape of the breastplate and tonlet skirt mimic the jerkin with flared skirt popular during his reign. Such military victories were limited and expensive.

They were designed to force the enemy to the negotiating table to agree to a favourable peace treaty. The King is shown on horseback leading a cavalry charge, and taking the surrender of the Chevalier Bayard. This painting shows Henry meeting Francis I of France in , amidst lavish temporary palaces and golden tents, jousting tournaments, indulgent banquets and wine fountains.

Fabulous gifts of armour from one ruler to another were a great way to flatter a potential ally. Along with his gift of a suit of armour and horned helmet, in Emperor Maximilian I also presented Henry VIII with an even more fabulously embossed horse armour, or bard. Glorious victories on the battlefield and magnificent European summits were all very well, but Henry VIII needed a son and heir to ensure the future of the Tudor dynasty and to avoid ensuing bloody competition over the crown. In a world dominated by war and men, countries ruled by women were considered vulnerable to being acquired by others through marriage.

She then gave birth to a son, christened Henry, on 1 January In , Katherine gave birth to Princess Mary, later Queen Mary I, but at least five other pregnancies ended in a heart-breaking series of miscarriages and still-births.

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As time passed, hopes of an heir began to fade. There were also other changes in the once strong marriage. Katherine turned 40 in She withdrew from the lively court life that Henry still enjoyed, becoming increasingly pious and devout. Katherine of Aragon, by an unknown artist, in about , reproduced by kind permission of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church Commissioners. Anne Boleyn was charismatic, self-confident and unobtainable.

Anne was seen by some as a key, and unwelcome, influence on the King. From a series of love letters from Henry to Anne, written in the late s and now preserved in the Vatican Archives. It took seven years for him to rid himself of his first wife. So all-consuming was Henry's desire for a divorce that it became known as the King's 'Great Matter'.

Katherine resisted, and without her consent, Henry needed the Pope to grant him a divorce. Encouraged by Protestant reformers who denied the authority of the Pope, Henry declared his independence from Rome in a series of Acts passed between and