young woman who was tortured and burned at the stake in 1546 for
distributing Protestant literature, which was illegal under Henry's
Anne of Cleves
fourth wife; the sister of the German Duke of Cleves, with whom
Thomas Cromwell urged the king to contract a marriage alliance;
she and Henry were married in January 1540 and divorced six months
second wife, and mother of his second daughter Elizabeth, future
Queen Elizabeth I. She and Henry were married secretly in January
1533. She was tried and beheaded for treason in May 1536, after having
allegedly betrayed the king in several extramarital affairs.
Catherine of Aragon
- Daughter of the king and queen of Spain, Ferdinand
I of Aragon and Isabella of Castile; Henry's first wife and mother
of his first daughter Mary, future Queen Mary I. The widow of Henry's
elder brother Arthur, she married Henry with a special dispensation from
the Pope in 1509. When she did not bear any sons, Henry's determination
to divorce her against the wishes of the Pope officially set off
the English Reformation.
of Catherine of Aragon, from the Habsburg family, elected Holy Roman
Emperor in 1519, causing a major shift in the European balance
of power when his inherited domains–Spain, Austria, and Burgundy–were
added to his imperial German and Italian lands. Several times Henry's
ally and once his formal enemy, when Henry and Francois I of France
fought against him 1528.
who refused to grant Henry a dispensation to divorce Catherine of
of Canterbury from 1533–1556; presided over Henry's divorce from
Catherine of Aragon in May 1533. He was a friend to Protestantism even
when it was suppressed by the government, but remained a close
friend and adviser to the king until Henry's death in 1547.
- A member of Henry's council from 1531–1540 and chief
architect of the king's political reformation; arranged Henry's
divorce from Catherine of Aragon and put into effect the 1534 Act
of Supremacy. Made Viceregent in 1535, his arrangement of Henry's marriage
to Anne of Cleves lost him the king's favor. He was executed for
treason and abetting heresy in 1540.
Edward (Edward VI)
- Henry's only legitimate son, heir to the throne upon
his father's death. Born in 1537, his mother was Jane Seymour.
Reigned over England as King Edward VI from 1547–1553.
- Henry's second daughter, born in 1533, her mother was
Anne Boleyn. After her sister, Queen Mary I died, she acceded to
the throne and reigned over England as Queen Elizabeth I from 1556–1603.
- Henry's mother, daughter
of King Edward IV. She relinquished her hereditary claim to the
throne of England when she agreed to marry Henry VII.
of France from 1515–1547, and frequent military rival to Henry.
France was a major European power under his rule, and his chief
opponent, was Charles V.
- Bishop of Winchester and prominent member of the
Privy Council in the latter years of Henry's reign and one of the
king's ablest advisers on political and religious matters. He led
the catholic faction in the government alongside the Duke of Norfolk
and was involved in the framing of the Six Articles.
father, and King of England from 1485–1509. Defeated and killed
King Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field, ending the War
of the Roses. Stabilized his military takeover of the government
by marrying Elizabeth of York.
in 1491, King of England from April 1509 to January 1547. Responsible
for England's formal break with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534,
when he was declared Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England.
Son of King Henry VII and father of King Edward VI, Queen Mary
I, and Queen Elizabeth I.
- Henry's fifth wife, and niece of Thomas Howard, Duke
of Norfolk. She and Henry were married in July 1540. She was beheaded
for treason in 1542 after engaging in several extramarital affairs.
of Scotland from 1513–1542, he fought a war with England after
allying with the French in 1542. His armies were routed at the battle
of Solway Moss.
martyr for the Protestant faith, his show-trial–presided over by
Henry–and his torture and burning at the stake in 1538 marked the
onset of heightened suppression of Protestant heresy by Henry's government.
Mary (Mary I)
of Henry and Catherine of Aragon, born in 1516. She remained staunchly
Catholic, and when she reigned over England as Queen Mary I from
1553–1556, she received the nickname "Bloody Mary" for her persecutions
of Protestant heretics.
Sir Thomas More
- Lawyer, leading scholar of English humanism, and
close friend to Henry early in his reign; Lord Chancellor of England
from 1529–1532, resigning his office in opposition to Henry's break
with the Roman Catholic Church. Imprisoned and beheaded for refusing
to swear to the Oath of Succession, he is honored by Catholics
as a martyr and saint.
Norfolk, Thomas Howard,
- Member of the king's council and
leader of the catholic faction of Henry's court later in his reign,
he was imprisoned but not executed in 1546 on suspicion of treason.
Famed for victory against the Scots at Flodden in 1513, when he
was Lord High Admiral. Uncle to both Anne Boleyn and Katherine
sixth and last wife, she was married to the king–the third of her
four husbands–in 1543. She outlived Henry and was reputed to be
a very thoughtful, caring companion to him during his last years.
third and probably his most beloved wife. She married the king in
1536 and died in childbed the following year after giving birth
to their son Edward.
- Leading Protestant in the 1520s; fled England in 1524
and translated the Bible into English. Henry's government prohibited
the printing and distribution of this text in England.
and Archbishop of York from 1514–1530, and Henry's Lord Chancellor
from 1515–1529, he was the king's leading adviser during these
years, in charge of the day-to-day running of the government and
of many foreign policy decisions. He was charged with high treason
in 1530 after failing to persuade the Pope to grant Henry a divorce
from Queen Catherine, but he died before he could stand trial.