Henry VIII, is undoubtedly one of the most racy rulers in the history of England: his biography is primarily marked by a very violent family history, but apart from this, the monarch has left a vivid imprint in the history of his country and the whole Europe, and has determined the direction in which England and its relationship with the continental powers further developed. The Reformation took place at his times and from this the Church of England originated. He is known for his numerous marriages. He executed two of his six wives.
Henry VIII is one of historical figures, about which opinions always sharply diverged, depending on who described him, Protestant or Catholic portrayed Henry in the image of a saint, or in the form of the devil. Charles Dickens called him the most intolerable scoundrel, a disgrace to human nature, bloody and greasy spot in the history of England. It is all become due to his failed personal life and spiritual weakness in relation to the fair sex, which often overshadowed the positive moments of almost 40-year reign of Henry VIII. The English king, who became the prototype of Blue Beard, was born on June 28, 1491 in Greenwich. He was the second son of King Henry VII, inherited the throne through the line of Lancaster, and Elizabeth, a daughter of King Edward IV of the House of York. According to the laws of dynastic succession the elder Henry’s brother Arthur should take the throne after the death of their father, but his unexpected death opened the way to the English throne for Henry, on which he went up on April 21, 1509 after the death of his father. The young Henry VIII was well educated, got a decent education for those days, and had a strong character and determination. Highlighting these features, outstanding thinkers of that era Erasmus Roterodamus and Thomas More, called him as a long-awaited king-humanist. Politically, Henry, unlike his father, had more reason to believe that he is King due to “the grace of God,” as he personified the union of houses of Lancaster and York, which put an end to the bloody War of the Roses (Horowitz 2009).
Shortly after the coronation being 18 years old Henry VIII married. His first wife was Katharine of Aragon, a daughter of Spanish King Ferdinand II and the widow of his older brother Arthur. The law of marriage, from the perspective of God’s commandments, was doubted even by violent supporters of Henry, to say nothing of his opponents. But the young king was in love and also remembered the undoubted benefit of an alliance with Spain in the light of approaching war against France. He had to fight on two fronts – both on the continent and with Scots blew from to the rear. Fighting has not always been successful for the British, however, capturing Tournai and a brilliant victory over the Scots at Flodden restored royal honor. Concluded subsequently European peace, implemented in the London treaty, was a triumph for British diplomacy. A personal meeting with the French king Henry Francis I and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V served as an assurance of compliance with the peace agreement. Having restored the prestige of England on the world stage, Henry VIII began to strengthen his personal power. From his father he had gotten a good coherent state administrative apparatus. He added it with specialized Council, that had virtually unlimited powers. In all provinces the sheriffs, a kind of mini-warlords, was replaced by the magistrates under the control of Council. Parliament has played the role of the legislative fortifier of the King’s will, and Henry was decisive with the disagreeable noblemen and princes with the help of the intrigues, skillfully pitting the court factions among themselves and making extensive use of the laws on treason. So little by little, the power was restored to the British monarchy. Besides the public concerns Henry did not forget about entertainment (Ellis 2003). Being by the nature a slim, strong, and tall man, he was a model of the real knight. So he chose the similar way to have a fun – knight tournaments and hawking. Generosity, cheerfulness, and the splendor of his court were in stark contrast to the miserly thrift of a former king. Henry was also considered as the patron of science and arts in England. The only trouble which marred a serene life of the King of England was the absence of a male heir. His wife, Katharine of Aragon, bore him five children, of whom only one survived, a girl – the future Queen Mary Tudor.