Henry VIII, the notorious King of England, had an exceptionally significant influence on English history. The importance of Henry's eminent reign is typically overshadowed by his six wives, but to discover its true essence one must breach the barriers yielded by the many fallacies concerning his overly publicized liaisons. Although to many he is remembered solely for his hedonistic life style, his malicious attitudes, and of course his six wives, Henry was well-educated and an adept ruler. He exuded confidence and supremacy throughout all of his actions. Henry fought many wars in Europe, callously increased the authority of royal government, and even aspired to become Holy Roman Emperor in order to extend his jurisdiction. Henry's greatest accomplishment was by far the commencement of the Protestant Reformation in England. He rejected the authority of the pope and the Roman Catholic Church and promoted religious reformers to power. He initiated a widespread hostility against the Catholic Church and consequently set in motion the adoption of new religious notions by countless people. To Catholics he was viewed as the devil incarnate, but to Protestants he was attributed as the founder of their faith.
Henry VIII, born during 1941 in Greenwich, was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Henry, a quite obstinate child, proved a competent student and even more dexterous athlete, hunter, and wrestler. His education was directed by the poet John Skelton. Henry was endowed with a cunning wit and perceptive mentality. In April of 1502 his life was altered eternally by the occurrence of a single, fatal event. His elder brother Arthur died, thus making him the new heir to the throne.
In 1509 Henry's father died, bequeathing him with a copious treasury and a crown securely upon his head. Once in power, he took a different approach to governing than that of his father's steadfast and stolid ruling techniques. His father's primary concerns had been to control the independence of nobility and to enrich the crown. In contrast, his son Henry VIII set out to expand England's power in Europe. In order to ease the immense discontent caused by his father's inflation of taxes and avoidance of expensive wars, Henry placed blame on royal ministers. Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley were the victims of this surreptitious and rather vindictive tactic. The decapitation of these men won widespread popularity for the reign. Beside this, the young sovereign possessed a beneficial attribute, the ability to arouse the zeal of his devoted people. Henry accepted his regality and exhibited it with superb ease.
During Henry's reign, he built developed a strong fleet of fighting ships. He directed a significant reorganization of government which helped to set the stage for England's progression into leading world power. This included the formation of a bureaucracy that took over many government duties from the royal family.
Henry married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, and by doing so entered into a coalition with King Ferdinand of Spain. He and his allies were led a triumphant campaign against the French and also repelled the Scots war on England. He later took on another devious tactic by acting as a mediator between France and Spain, playing them against each other in the hopes of gaining power. Henry preferred to avoid governing in person and therefore left most matters in hands of others. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, Henry's chief minister, virtually ruled England. He was the Cardinal Bishop of York and the Lord Chancellor of England. At times he practically had absolute control of affairs. It was Wolsey's urging in 1521 that led to the composition by Henry entitled Asertio Septem Sacramentorum. This pamphlet criticized Martin Luther and his teachings. For this he was presented with the title of "Defender of the Faith"
In mind of the great Henry VII, the most atrocious failure in his reign would be the incapability to...
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