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THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL

About King Henry VIII
Henry Tudor was born in 1491, the second son of King Henry VII of England. His older brother Arthur died, leaving Henry to inherit his father's throne. He first married Katherine of Aragon, his brother's widow, a match only permitted under Roman Catholic law of the time because of the claim that Katherine and Arthur's marriage had never been consummated. With Katherine, Henry had one daughter, Mary. Henry divorced Katherine after falling in love with Anne Boleyn. His need for a male heir played a large part in his desire to marry the pregnant Anne, but Anne gave Henry another daughter, Elizabeth. The marriage lasted only three years before Anne was beheaded for infidelity, a treasonous charge in the king's consort. Henry hastily married Jane Seymour, who died in childbirth, giving Henry the son and heir he longed for, Prince Edward.

Henry next arranged a marriage with Anne of Cleves, reportedly attracted to her after seeing Hans Holbein's beautiful portrait of her. But in person, he found her plain, and the marriage was never consummated. Catherine Howard, another niece of the scheming Duke of Norfolk, was Henry's next wife but she was executed for infidelity within two years. His sixth and final wife was Catherine Parr, who outlived him. Henry died in 1547, at the age of 56.

Henry was succeeded first by his nine-year-old son, Edward VI, whose reign lasted for six years.  When he died, he was succeeded by Lady Jane Grey, who was not in line for the throne and was forced to give up the crown after just nine days when Katherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary, rode triumphantly into London.  Mary became known as Bloody Mary because of her intolerant attitude to non-Catholics.  Upon Mary's death, Anne Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth, was crowned Queen of England; she began a long and celebrated reign that came to be called a golden age.

As a young and vigorous king, Henry invaded France, defeated the Scots at Flodden Field and wrote a treatise against the reformation of the Church, for which the Pope rewarded him with the title "Defender of the Faith."  However, his obsession with having a male heir to inherit the throne of England led to his divorce from Katherine, which was condemned by the Pope, who had refused to annul the union.  Henry broke from Rome, separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, and asserting the supremacy of the Monarchy, an event that greatly altered the politics of England and the whole of Western Christendom, fracturing the absolute power of the Church of Rome.

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