Spotlight: Henry VIII

Name: Henry Tudor / King Henry VIII of England.

Title/s: Prince of Wales / King of England, Ireland and France / Defender of the Faith / Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Birth / Death: 28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547.

Spouse: Katherine of Aragon 1485-1536 / Anne Boleyn 1501-1536 / Jane Seymour 1507-1537 / Anne of Cleves 1515-1557 / Katherine Howard 1521-1542 / Katherine Parr 1512-1548.

Children: Henry Duke of Cornwall 1511 / Mary I of England 1516 – 1558 (by Katherine of Aragon) / Henry Fitzroy 1519 – 1536 (illegitimate, by Elizabeth Blount) / Elizabeth I of England 1533 – 1603 (by Anne Boleyn) / Edward VI of England 1537 – 1553 (by Jane Seymour).

Parents: Henry VII of England 1457 – 1509 & Elizabeth of York 1466 – 1503.

Siblings: Arthur 1486-1502 / Margaret 1489-1541 / Elizabeth 1492-1495 / Mary 1495-1533 / Edmund 1499-1500 / Edward (unknown) / Katherine 1503

Noble Connections: Henry’s mother was the daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. His great-uncle was Richard III. Henry’s father was descended from Edward III through an illegitimate line of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford.

Notable Achievements: Six marriages, Battle of the Spurs 1512, Battle of Flodden Field 1512, Break with Rome 1533, Act of Supremacy 1534, birth of Elizabeth I 1533, and the King’s Great Matter 1527-33.

Events of their Lifetime: Dissolution of the monasteries from 1529, Pilgrimage of Grace 1536-7, Field of the Cloth of Gold 1520, Act of Supremacy 1534, Break with Rome 1533, and the death of Prince Arthur 1502.

Works of Fiction:
Castor, H.M., VIII (2010)
George, Margaret, The Autobiography of Henry VIII (1986)
Gregory, Philippa, The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
Gregory, Philippa, The King’s Curse (2014)
Mantel, Hilary, Wolf Hall (2009)
Mantel, Hilary, Bring Up the Bodies (2012)
Plaidy, Jean, The King’s Secret Matter (1962)

Portrayals on Screen:
Eric Bana, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2008, directed by Justin Chadwick
Richard Burton, Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969, directed by Charles Jarrott
Sid James, Carry on Henry, 1971, directed by Gerald Thomas
Charles Laughton, The Private Life of Henry VIII, 1933, directed by Alexander Korda
Damien Lewis, Wolf Hall, 2014, 6 episodes
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Tudors, 2007-2010, 38 episodes
Ray Winstone, Henry VIII, 2003, directed by Pete Travis

Further Reading:
Brewer, J.S., The Reign of Henry VIII (1884)
Brietz Monta, Suzannah, ‘Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and the Polemics of Conscience’, English Literary Renaissance, 30 (2000)
Bruce, Marie Louise, The Making of Henry VIII (1977)
Carley, J.P., The Books of Henry VIII and his Wives (2004)
Doran, Susan, Henry VIII: Man and Monarch (2009)
Ellis, Stephen, ‘Henry VIII, Rebellion and the Rule of Law’, Historical Journal, 24 (1981)
Erickson, Carolly, Great Harry (1980)
Graves, Michael, Henry VIII: a Study in Kingship (2003)
Gunn, Steven, ‘The Accession of Henry VIII’, Historical Research, 64 (1991)
Hackett, Francis, Henry the Eighth (1929)
Herbert, Edward, History of England under Henry VIII (1870)
Hutchinson, Robert, The Last Days of Henry VIII (2005)
Hutchinson, Robert, Young Henry: the Rise of Henry VIII (2011)
Ives, Eric, ‘Henry VIII’s Will: a Forensic Conundrum’, Historical Journal, 37 (1994)
Kelly, Henry, The Matrimonial Trials of Henry VIII (1976)
Lacey, Robert, The Life and Times of Henry VIII (1972)
Lipscomb, Suzannah, 1536: the Year that Changed Henry VIII (2009)
Loach, Jennifer, ‘The Function of Ceremonial in the Reign of Henry VIII’, Past & Present, 142 (1994)
Loades, David, Henry VIII (2011)
MacCulloch, Diarmaid, The Reign of Henry VIII: Politics, Policy and Piety (1995)
Matusiak, John, Henry VIII: the Life and Rule of England’s Nero (2013)
Miller, Helen, Henry VIII and the English Nobility (1986)
Pollard, A.F., Henry VIII (1934)
Randell, Keith, Henry VIII and the Government of England (1991)
Rex, Richard, Henry VIII: the Tudor Tyrant (2010)
Scarisbrick, J.J., Henry VIII (1968)
Shore, Miles F., ‘Henry VIII and the Crisis of Generativity’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2 (1972)
Smith, Lacey Baldwin, Henry VIII (1971)
Starkey, David, Henry: Virtuous Price (2008)
Starkey, David, The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics (1985)
Thurston, Herbert, ‘The Divorce of Henry VIII’, Irish Quarterly Review, 21 (1932)
Warnicke, Retha, ‘Sexual Heresy at the Court of Henry VIII’, Historical Journal, 30 (1987)
Weir, Alison, Henry VIII: King and Court (2001)
Whitley, Catrina Banks, ‘A New Explanation for the Reproductive Woes and Midlife Decline of Henry VIII’, Historical Journal, 53 (2010)
Williams, Neville, Henry VIII and his Court (1971)
Wilson, Derek, A Brief History of Henry VIII: Reformer and Tyrant (2009)
Wooding, Lucy, Henry VIII (2009)


The arms of Henry VIII as King of England.
The arms of Henry VIII as King of England.


Henry VIII c.1537.
Henry VIII c.1537.
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein 1540
Henry VIII c.1520.
Henry VIII c.1520.







Henry VIII c.1542.
Henry VIII c.1542.
Eighteen year-old Henry after his coronation in 1509.
Eighteen year-old Henry after his coronation in 1509.
Henry c. 1531, by either Hans Holbein or Francois Clouet.
Henry c. 1531, by either Hans Holbein or Francois Clouet.

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