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Henry VIII
Marriage, monarchy and man about town. 

Henry didnít like marriage. Contrary to popular belief, he really didnít care much for it at all. Henry liked being king, he loved the perks and he liked duty. Duty dictated the Monarch leave a male heir. 

Now, you may ask, where does this leave those six lovely women he dragged to the altar? Read on. 

Henry became engaged to Catherine of Aragon, his brother Arthurís widow. Not odd, considering her lineage and connections. At the time of the engagement Catherine was 17 and Henry 12. Yes he started early.  

They married in 1509, the year Henry became king at age 18. He and Catherine stayed married over twenty years, having many children with only Mary surviving. Henry divorced Catherine in 1533 after getting Anne pregnant. Heíd been trying to divorce Catherine for years, finally succeeding only after separating all of Britain from the Catholic Church. The Pope refused the divorce request so Henry declared himself the head of the Church of England and granted his own divorce. Simple. Reasonable. Use whatís at your disposal. He was a resourceful guy. 

Exit Catherine, enter Anne Boleyn. 

Pregnant Anne, a servant in the Queenís household, married Henry in 1533 and gave birth soon after to Elizabeth. Henry was having little luck with producing a son, but of course he didnít see it that way. The ladies were to blame and rather conveniently, Henry found Anne guilty of adultery and had her beheaded in 1536. Unfortunately for Anne, this was a treasonous offense against the Crown. Bummer. Anne loses her head, Henry wasted no time.   


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The same month, May, he married Jane Seymour, then pregnant with Edward. She gave birth in Oct. and died twelve days later. 

You would think his track record might frighten women off. 

Henry waited almost two years before his next marriage. He invented the first dating service. He sent painters all over Europe to paint the most beautiful women they could find. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Henry beheld the Holbein painting of a beautiful German princess and arranged a marriage immediately  to Ann of Cleves. 

Apparently a real hottie for her day, Annís portrait just did not capture her real essence. An essence which Henry divorced that same year (1540). 

Still that same year (big year for Henry and court) he married Katherine Howard, a lady frequently seen at Court. Henry took a fancy to her, married her and then took her head two years later for alleged affairs. 

Wife number six was Catherine Parr, a woman about whom not much is known.  She bore Hank no kids, which did not match well with the survival rate of his other children.  She and Henry grew older and still no children.  When Henry died, Cathy disappeared into the sea of court faces and life in Britain continued. 

Now, despite the songs written, or the possible satire focusing on Henryís marriages, this monarch changed the face of the institution of marriage forever, not to mention a few religious changes along the way.  Something that history cannot forget. 

____________________________

Copyright - 2003

 

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