King Henry VIII


Henry VIII was born on June 28th 1491, in Greenwich, near London. His sister, Margaret Tudor, married James IV of Scotland. This was a very important marriage in history and here's why:

Margaret's son (James V) went on to rule Scotland. Henry's three children were each to rule England.

If Scotland and England had stayed as two separate countries, there would have been no problem. Each country had its own ruler. But many, including Henry, wanted Scotland and England to become one country and this meant there was a long struggle to decide who should rule over both countries. There could only be one monarch. Which side would you have been on?

Well, it all depended on where you lived. There was no voting in those days. The King or Queen of the day decided everything. Arguments between countries were solved either by arranging marriages between the different kings or queens, or worse, by killing off the king or queen who was in the way!

Henry thought he would be clever and tried to arrange for Mary Queen of Scots to marry his son Edward of England. He even offered to rule Scotland for Mary while she was growing up! This way he could gain control of both countries. He was aiming to be a very powerful man.

Apart from trying to gain control over Scotland, Henry liked to have control in his personal life too.

He is most famous for having six wives, which was very unusual in those days since England was a Catholic country and the Catholic Church didn't allow divorce. For Henry the solution was easy. He just ignored the Catholic Church and set up a new church, the Church of England, with himself at the Head. Then he allowed himself to have a divorce!

Then he was able to remarry - six different times! His six wives, in the order that he married them, were: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Sometimes he would divorce his wife to marry a new one and sometimes he had his wife put to death for adultery so that he could marry again. He seemed to have it all his own way.

Henry had three children, each with a different mother. All his children became King or Queen eventually. First was Edward VI (son of Jane Seymour), then Mary I (daughter of Catherine of Aragon) and finally Elizabeth 1 (daughter of Anne Boleyn).

We must remember that Henry's children became King or Queen of England. Not one was King or Queen of Scotland and that was what Henry most wanted - for Scotland and England to be joined together with either himself or one of his children in charge.

This was why Henry attacked Scotland in 1542. He wanted to rule both Scotland and England himself. He succeeded in defeating his nephew King James V of Scotland but he did not manage to control James' daughter, Mary, who then became Mary Queen of Scots. That was left to his daughter Elizabeth after he died.

Henry died in London on January 28th 1547, without managing to sort out the problems between Scotland and England. These problems continued on as Scotland and England struggled to find peace.


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