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Henry VIII


Key People

key-people Key People
Anne Askew - A young woman who was tortured and burned at the stake in 1546 for distributing Protestant literature, which was illegal under Henry's reign.
Anne of Cleves - Henry's 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 later.
Anne Boleyn - Henry's 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.
Charles V - Nephew 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.
Clement VII - Pope who refused to grant Henry a dispensation to divorce Catherine of Aragon.
Thomas Cranmer - Archbishop 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.
Thomas Cromwell - 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.
Elizabeth  - 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.
Elizabeth of York  - 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.
Francois I - King 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.
Stephen Gardiner - 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.
Henry VII - Henry's 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.
Henry VIII - Born 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.
Katherine Howard - 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.
James V - King 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.
John Lambert - Prominent 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) - Daughter 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, Duke of  - 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 Howard.
Katherine Parr - Henry's 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.
Jane Seymour - Henry's 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.
William Tyndale - 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.
Thomas Wolsey - Cardinal 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.

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