Picture of King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

  • Interesting Facts and information about King Henry VIII the Father of Queen Elizabeth I
  • Facts, Picture and History of King Henry VIII
  • Short Biography about the life of King Henry VIII and his six wives
  • The Tudor Dynasty of King Henry VIII and his six wives

Picture of King Henry VIII

King Henry VIII

Father of Queen Elizabeth I

Tudor Dynasty of Queen Elizabeth I - Major Figures, Pictures & People in the
family of Queen Elizabeth I

Tudor Timeline of King Henry VIII


Short Biography and facts about the life of King Henry VIII -
Father of Queen Elizabeth I

The following biography information provides basic facts and information about the life King Henry VIII:

  • Nationality: English
  • Father of Queen Elizabeth I
  • Lifespan: 1491 - 1547
  • Born: 28 June 1491
  • He the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and he was born on 28 June 1491 at Greenwich, London, England
  • Succeeded to the throne of England: 21 April 1509
  • Reigned: 1509 - 1547
  • Marriages: King Henry VIII married six times
  • Died: 28 January 1547 - The body of King Henry VIII  was interred with his third wife, Jane Seymour, the beloved mother of his son and heir
  • Family connections: Son of Henry VII the first Tudor King
  • Religion: In his early life he was a devout Catholic given the title 'Defender of the Faith' by the Pope. Following his liaison with Anne Boleyn he then changed to the Protestant religion, dissolved all the monasteries in Britain and established the Church of England  
  • Character of King Henry VIII : As a young man in his early life he was flamboyant, studious but fun loving. In his later life he was cruel, arrogant and a hypocrite

First hand description of King Henry VIII

The following is a first hand description of King Henry VIII made in a dispatch from the Venetian diplomat Pasqualigo in 1515:

His Majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion very fair and bright, auburn hair combed straight and short, in the French fashion, and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman, his throat being rather long and thick.... He will enter his twenty-fifth year the month after next. He speaks French, English and Latin, and a little Italian, plays well on the lute and harpsichord, sings from book at sight, draws the bow with greater strength than any man in England and jousts marvelously... a most accomplished Prince.

As a young man Henry was the second son and was prepared for a life in the church. The death of his elder brother Arthur changed the fate of Henry. In his early life he enjoyed physical activites including hunting, hawking, horseback riding, jousting, tennis, archery and wrestling. He was alos well educated and intelligent and enjoyed writing and composing music. Henry VIII loved court life with its pageants, dancing and masques. A leg injury incurred whilst he was riding led to a festering ulcer in his led and considerably reduced his physical exercise in Henry VIII's later life. He gave in to excess in eating and drinking and became a huge, bloated figure

Information, Facts & History about King Henry VIII and his Six Wives

King Henry VIII is one of the most infamous English Kings - he married six times and two of his wives were beheaded. The following facts about Henry VIII and his six wives describe the marriages and reasons for their failures:

King Henry VIII and his Six Wives

  • First wife was Katharine of Aragon
    • Katharine of Aragon was a Catholic Spanish Princess - was the daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain
    • Katharine of Aragon was first married to Arthur, Henry's elder brother but he died less than six months after the marriage. The marriage was said to have never been consummated and a dispensation was therefore given by the Pope allowing Katharine to become engaged to the brother of her dead husband 
    • Katharine of Aragon was then betrothed to Henry - Katherine was 17 and Henry was 12
    • Henry became King when he was 18 and married 23 year old Katharine
    • Katharine of Aragon had repeated miscarriages, two still births and bore and christened a prince who only survived 52 days
    • Only one child survived, a daughter Mary Tudor
    • Henry was unhappy with the marriage which had failed to produce a male heir
    • Henry VIII became obsessed with the text in Leviticus 'If a man shall take his brother's wife it is an unclean thing... they shall be childless.' (Leviticus, XX, 21)
    • And had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn...
    • The marriage between Katharine of Aragon and Henry VIII ended in a bitter annulment / divorce
    • So ended the marriage of King Henry VIII and his first wife 
  • Second wife was Anne Boleyn
    • Anne Boleyn came from a noble family, her mother was part of the great Howard family
    • Anne Boleyn's sister Mary Boleynhad first been the mistress of Henry and discarded for Anne
    • Anne refused to give herself to Henry until she was sure that Henry would marry her
    • Henry was obsessed with the bright and witty Anne. Anne became pregnant and they married
    • King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church in order to obtain a divorce from Katharine of Aragon. The Protestant Church of England was established leading to the dissolution of the monasteries and the death of many men including Sir Thomas More who refused to agree to the Act of Supremacy
    • The baby was a huge disappointment to Henry - it was a girl who became Queen Elizabeth I
    • Anne was proud, arrogant, wilful, had a temper and was over confident. She became pregnant again during which time King Henry VIII cast his eye towards a meek lady in waiting called Jane Seymour...
    • Anne miscarried the baby. Henry believed that the marriage was cursed. He wanted to be rid of Queen Anne Boleyn
    • Anne was accused on trumped up charges of Adultery, Incest, Treason and witchcraft
    • Queen Anne Boleyn was executed by beheading
    • So ended the marriage of King Henry VIII and his second wife
  • Third wife was Jane Seymour
    • King Henry VIII married, the already pregnant, Jane Seymour as soon as Anne Boleyn was executed
    • Jane Seymour was the complete opposite to Anne - meek, shy and obedient
    • Jane Seymour gave birth to the longed-for son and heir. King Henry was delighted and grand celebrations were planned for the christening of his son who became King Edward VI
    • His two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, by his previous marriages were declared illegitimate
    • Jane Seymour was allowed little time for rest after the birth and she died twelve days after giving birth to her son from puerperal fever
    • So ended the marriage of King Henry VIII and his third wife
    • King Henry VIII devastated
    • But after two years mourning he started to think about taking another wife...
  • Fourth wife was Anne of Cleves
    • The story of King Henry VIII continues but this marriage was to be a political one. Henry had a good look at all the Protestant European Princesses who were available - not surprisingly many were not too keen. Thomas Cromwell favored a political alliance with Cleves
    • Anne of  Cleves (1515 - 1557) was a Protestant German Princess who was born in Dusseldorf, Cleves in Germany. There were three sisters and Hans Holbein, a famous Tudor court painter, was sent to paint their pictures
    • King Henry VIII chose Princess Anne of Cleves
    • The marriage treaty with Cleves was finalized on 6 Oct 1539
    • Anne of Cleves travelled to England and Henry rushed to meet his young bride. The portrait was over-complimentary to Anne - Holbein had reflected her sweet nature in the portrait but Anne of Cleves was not what Henry expected. "I like her not." he told all and sundry. But Henry could not get out of the marriage contract and the marriage ceremony went ahead
    • The marriage was not consummated. Poor, innocent 19 year old Anne believed that all was well. She barely spoke English and was not wise in the ways of the World or of relationships between husband and wife
    • She then learnt that her husband wanted the marriage annulled and a divorce. Anne of Cleves cooperated completely with Henry's wishes - she was a clever woman and shrewd enough to take account of the demise of his previous wives. And Henry was not a great catch. He was 48 years old, fat, bloated and well past his prime. The good looks of his youth had faded. Henry of course still believed he was the handsome prince and that Anne would be difficult
    • Henry VIII was so pleased with Ann of Cleves agreeing to a divorce that he granted her money and estates and treated her with the deference that would be afforded to his Royal 'Sister'
    • Anne of Cleves had emerged from the marriage to King Henry VIII far happier than when she had entered it.
    • So ended the marriage of King Henry VIII and his fourth wife
    • But another lady-in-waiting had caught the eye of King Henry VIII
    • Her name was Catherine Howard - she was just 18 years old and Henry was 50
  • Fifth wife was Catherine Howard
    • Catharine Howard was a member of the powerful Howard family. She was the first cousin of the ill-fated Anne Boleyn
    • Catherine had been brought up in the house of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk. She had been sadly neglected. She could barely read and write and had been allowed an amount of freedom which should never have been given to a young girl of noble birth
    • Consequently the young Catharine Howard had enjoyed illicit relationships with young men
    • The men that Catherine was associated with were:
      • Henry Mannox a music teacher to the 15 year old Catherine
      • Francis Dereham, a gentleman Usher to the Dowager Duchess - they referred to themselves as "husband and wife"
    • Members of the Dowager Duchess household knew of these relationships. And the Dowager Duchess was informed. The Dowager Duchess was horrified - she was responsible for Catherine's upbringing. Catherine was severely punished - she was whipped
    • The Dowager Duchess had been frightened by the incidents - the head of the Howard family the Duke of Norfolk had singled out his niece Catherine Howard as a pretty girl who could be useful to the fortunes of the Howard clan
    • Catherine was sent to the court of Henry VIII as a lady-in waiting and just as the Duke of Norfolk had planned and manipulated the young Catherine caught the eye of the ageing King Henry
    • King Henry VIII became obsessed with Catherine - it was described as a "pathetic infatuation"
    • He thought of her as a young, innocent and virginal young woman - his "Rose without a thorn"
    • Catherine was a kind and sweet natured girl. She was not frightened of the old, bloated king - he spoiled her and she loved the fine clothes and jewels that were showered upon her
    • King Henry VIII married his "Rose without a thorn" but was hardly a suitable partner for the young and rash Catherine who was only 19 years old
    • Catherine past started to catch up with her. She was approached by previous members of the household of the Dowager Duchess and felt obliged to give then positions at court
    • The foolish Catherine then fell in love and started a sexual relationship with Thomas Culpepper. Culpepper was a gentleman of the bedchamber - an honoured position at court - he tended to every intimate requirement of King Henry
    • The affair soon became known at the court. But King Henry would not hear a word against his Queen Consort, or her secrets
    • The Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cramner built a case against the young Catholic Queen based on Catherine's previous involvements and her current relationship with Thomas Culpepper ( this included love letters in signed by Catherine to Culpepper)
    • King Henry VIII was truly devastated. He banned Catherine from his presence and ordered her arrest. She desperately tried to see the King, but was dragged away screaming
    • She eventually admitted the affair with Culpepper and was found guilty of adultery and treason. Mannox, Dereham and Culpepper were tortured and then executed
    • Tragic Catharine Howard was executed by beheading at the Tower of London - she was just 21 years old
    • So ended the marriage of King Henry VIII and his fifth wife
  • Sixth wife was Katharine Parr
    • Katharine Parr was a respectable, well educated widow
    • Her previous arranged marriages had been to much older men who she had nursed until their deaths
    • Sir Thomas Seymour, the flamboyant and handsome brother of the late Queen Jane was courting Katherine and she was about to accept his hand in marriage when she caught the eye of King Henry VIII
    • Henry married Katherine in July 1543
    • Katherine made the mistake of taking the sides of people who were considered heretics including Anne Askew. Anne Askew was cruelly put to the rack and then executed
    • Katherine's involvement nearly led to her arrest, but she wisely apologised to King Henry taking the position of an ill advised and contrite wife
    • Katherine was forgiven and continued nursing King Henry
    • King Henry VIII eventually died in 1547. Katharine had survived the marriage
    • So ended the marriage of King Henry VIII and his sixth wife
    • Soon after the death of King Henry VIII she married Thomas Seymour
    • In August 1548 Katherine Parr gave birth to a baby girl.  She died of puerperal fever 7 days later
  • There is a famous rhyme describing the various ends of the wives of King Henry VIII:

"Divorced, Beheaded, Died
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived"

Influence of King Henry VIII - Father of Queen Elizabeth I on the life of Queen Elizabeth IWhat influence did King Henry VIII - Father of Queen Elizabeth I have on the life of Queen Elizabeth I? King Henry VIII played an important role in Elizabeth's early life. Her father had killed her mother and Anne Boleyn had been executed when Elizabeth was just three years old. Her father married Jane Seymour who gave birth to Edward and Elizabeth was declared illegitimate. Her title of Princess Elizabeth was changed to the Lady Elizabeth. Her fortunes and her favour with her father swung from favour and disfavour - welcome at court and then unwelcome. Her life was often in danger. People she knew and loved were also executed. This was the atmosphere which Elizabeth was raised. But she loved and admired her father King Henry VIII. He was a strong man and King. Elizabeth learnt from her father's mistakes - she never married. Her partner in life was England.

Famous Elizabethans - King Henry VIII - Father of Queen Elizabeth I


Some interesting facts and short biography information about the History, Life, Times of King Henry VIII and his six wives. Additional details, facts, history and information about the famous Tudors and Elizabethans and important events during their times can be accessed via the Elizabethan Era Sitemap and the section detailing the life and times of Queen Elizabeth I.

King Henry VIII

  • Interesting Facts and information about King Henry VIII the Father of Queen Elizabeth I
  • Facts, Picture and History of King Henry VIII
  • Short Biography about the life of King Henry VIII and his six wives
  • The Tudor Dynasty of King Henry VIII and his six wives
  • Important accomplishments, dates and events in the life and history of King Henry VIII
  • King Henry VIII and his six wives

Queen Elizabeth's Coat of Arms


Elizabethan Era - Free Educational Resource. Author Referencing Information

The contents of www.elizabethan-era.org.uk are subject to Copyright Laws - the name of the Website Author is Linda Alchin. The referencing protocol is suggested as follows:

Alchin, L.K.
 Elizabethan Era
e.g. Retrieved May 16 2012 from

The content of Elizabethan Era is free but solely for educational purposes. Reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.". We would respectfully direct our visitors to our Elizabethan Era Copyright page and Elizabethan Era Privacy Statement regarding the Terms of Use of this history site, both may be accessed from the links provided at the bottom of this page.

Queen Elizabeth's Coat of Arms

King Henry VIII


Privacy Statement

2017 Siteseen Ltd

Cookie Policy

By Linda Alchin