Henry VIII., second king of England of the Tudor dynasty, and second son of the preceding king and Elizabeth of York, born at Greenwich palace, June 28, 1491, ascended the throne April 22, 1509, died Jan. 28, 1547. His father intended that he should become the head of the English church, and was educating him for the office of archbishop of Canterbury, when the death of his elder brother, Arthur, made him heir apparent, April 2, 1502. Arthur had married Catharine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, receiving with her 200,000 crowns, one half of which was paid down; and on his death her parents desired that she might be sent home, and the money refunded. Henry VII. objected, and proposed that Catharine should marry the new prince of Wales, who was five years her junior; and she was betrothed to him, June 25, 1503. Two years later the prince read and signed a protest against this contract, in presence of his father's councillors, declaring that he did not mean to fulfil it. This was the work of his father, who wished to marry Juana, widow of Philip I. of Castile, and elder sister of Catharine. Henry VII. probably altered the date of the protest at a later period, so as to disguise its object.
The prince of Wales was at that time attached to Catharine, and a dispensation had been granted by the pope as early as 1504, allowing them to marry, on the ground that the marriage with Prince Arthur had not been consummated. The king, who was always conscientious when ill, appears at times to have had some scruples on the subject of the marriage, and would have restored the princess to her parents, but that he could not bear to part with her portion. He died, and in less than two months Henry VIII. and Catharine were married. This hasty marriage was made, in the first instance, at the king's desire, but it was probably urged on by most of the statesmen around him because of their anxiety to establish the succession. The wars of the roses in the preceding century had made an indelible impression on the English mind, the effect of which was visible throughout the entire history of England during the existence of the house of Tudor, and to which must be attributed much of their vicious conduct. Should Henry VIII. die without an heir, there would ensue an immediate contest for the crown between the houses of York and Tudor, both represented by women; the former by the countess of Salisbury, a daughter of the last duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV., and the latter by the daughters of Henry VII. Archbishop Warham opposed the marriage, on the ground of their relationship.
Bishop Fox argued in its favor, though it was under his direction that the king when prince of Wales had protested against it. The privy council recommended the marriage. It was solemnized at Greenwich, June 7, 1509, and they were crowned June 24. Few monarchs have been more popular than was Henry at his accession. He was the heir of both branches of the old royal house, his father representing that of Lancaster, and his mother that of York. His person was eminently handsome, his mind had been highly cultivated, and he was fond of martial pleasures. He gave up Empson and Dudley, the obnoxious ministers of the late king, to vengeance, together with their instruments. He returned fines that had been unjustly or oppressively exacted. Much was hoped and expected of him, and not altogether in vain. Though addicted to pleasure, he was not unmindful of business, and paid special attention to foreign affairs. His manners were pleasing, yet he evinced at an early period not a little of that obstinacy which became his chief trait in later life. He is often spoken of as a lavish prince, but Wolsey said that he was the most avaricious man in the world. Had he died within 20 years from his accession, he would have been the most popular monarch in English history. His foreign connections began early.
In 1510 he received the golden rose from Pope Julius II., who wished to obtain his aid to expel the French from Italy; but at first he was disposed to be moderate, and to pursue substantially the policy of his father. He made a treaty with France, and then entered into engagements with his father-in-law, guaranteeing his Spanish dominions against the French, and sent an ambassador to Rome to promote a pacification. Gradually he was drawn into the war on the side of the pope and Ferdinand, and English forces were sent to their assistance. Late in 1511 a league was formed against France by the pope, the emperor, Aragon, and Venice. Henry led a large army into France in 1513, after his fleet had been checked and the French had threatened the English coast. Maximilian I., emperor of Germany, served under him as a volunteer. Great things were expected from this invasion, but were not realized. The French were beaten in the battle of the spurs (at Guinegate), an unimportant skirmish, remarkable only because Bayard was then captured; and the English took Th6-rouanne and Tournay. Henry then returned home with most of his forces.
Louis XII., hoping to intimidate Henry, had called the duke of Suffolk, one of the nephews of Edward IV., to France, whereupon Henry caused Suffolk's brother to be put to death, after he had long been detained a prisoner. While the king was in France, James IV. of Scotland led a great army into England, which was totally defeated at Flodden by the earl of Surrey, Sept. 9,1513, and the Scottish king slain. Being deserted by his allies, Henry made peace with Louis XII., who married his sister, Mary Tudor; but the French king soon died, and Mary married Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Wolsey, whose career had commenced in the preceding reign, was now high in favor with the king, and his course on many occasions gave much offence to the nobility. The successes of Francis I. in Italy alarmed Europe, and the German emperor sought to engage Henry to act against France by holding out hopes of being made his successor; and Francis, in retaliation, formed plans for an invasion of England in support of Suffolk's claim to the | throne. This pretender was an object of terror to the English government until he was slain at the battle of Pavia. The successes of the Turks continuing to alarm the western nations, Henry listened to the pope's plans for a crusade.
On the death of Maximilian I. Henry thought of becoming a competitor for the imperial crown, but soon discovered that he had no chance of success. The election of Charles of Spain to the imperial throne caused Henry and Francis to become friendly, and in 1520 a meeting was arranged between them. Before it could be held, Charles V. visited England, and there gained the influence of Wolsey, by affecting to favor his aspirations to the popedom. Francis and Henry then met near Ardres, on territory belonging to the latter, though in France. The meeting was so magnificent that the place of it was known as the field of the cloth of gold. Henry visited the emperor at Gravelines, where Charles completed his conquest of Wolsey by conferring Castilian sees upon him. War breaking out between Charles and Francis, Henry was induced by Wolsey to favor the former, and to enter into an offensive alliance with him. In 1521 Henry received from Leo X. the title of defender of the faith, for having written a book against Luther and his doctrines.
The same year occurred the execution of the duke of Buckingham, one of the greatest nobles of the realm, and descended in the female line from Edward III. His death was attributed to Wolsey, but it was due to the jealous rage of Henry, who could not bear about him any one who had, or could pretend to have, claims to the succession in the event of his dying without issue. The death of Leo X. and the elevation of Adrian VI. endangered the alliance between Charles V. and Henry, because of Wolsey's disappointment; but the emperor visited England, soothed the cardinal, and prevailed upon the king to declare war against France. An English army, commanded by Surrey, invaded France, but did nothing beyond burning and pillaging a few places of little note. Francis I. again called forth the pretender Suffolk, and threatened England with invasion; and these threats, and the alarm they caused, show that the party of York was still formidable in that country, a fact that palliates many of the king's acts. Henry was a party to the conspiracy of the constable de Bourbon against Francis in 1523; and from this conspiracy he expected to become as powerful in France as Henry V. had been.
But the failure of the plot ruined Bourbon, while an English army, commanded by Brandon, duke of Suffolk, performed as little in France as had been done by that of Surrey. The death of Adrian VI. in 1523 excited anew the hopes of Wolsey, but Charles V. threw his influence into the scale of Cardinal de' Medici, who became Clement VII. This disappointment determined Wolsey to withdraw his master from the imperial alliance; but not until after the battle of Pavia was he able to accomplish his purpose. Henry was at first disposed to prosecute the war more vigorously than ever against France, and Bourbon showed that he could obtain the crown of that country; hut Wolsey's policy prevailed, much aided by the emperor's conduct, as he evinced a disposition hostile to English aggrandizement. A treaty of peace was made with France in August, 1525, on terms advantageous to England. In 1527 Henry and Francis formed an alliance for the expulsion of the imperialists from Italy, and the deliverance of the pope, who was the emperor's prisoner. Henry renounced all claims to the French throne, and Francis agreed to pay 50,000 crowns annually to Henry and his successors.
Wolsey made a magnificent journey to France, which the public associated with the thought of Henry's divorce, with a view to his marriage with a French princess; and from this time, the spring of 1527, the question of divorce becomes the leading incident of Henry's reign. His marriage with Catharine had not been productive of heirs. During the first nine years of their union, the queen had thrice miscarried, two sons died immediately after birth, and a third son was still-born. The only child that lived was the princess Mary, born in 1516. Henry, who was superstitious even to fanaticism, was much impressed by these repeated misfortunes, and believed they were punishments for having married his brother's wife. The idea of a divorce had perhaps been maturing in his mind for years, when accident gave it sudden prominence. The marriage of the princess Mary with a French prince being spoken of as probable, the legitimacy of the princess was questioned by the French envoy, the bishop of Tarbes. This the king asserted in council, but it has been doubted whether the bishop ever raised any such question.
At this time the pope was suffering from the attack of the imperialists, and soon became a prisoner of the emperor, and Wolsey determined to procure a divorce, in the hope of being able to commit Henry thoroughly to the cause of the ancient church, which was beginning to feel the attacks of the reformers. Apart from the theological reasons which deterred the pope from granting a divorce, he had to dread the resentment of the emperor, who was Catharine's nephew. Wolsey aimed at a reformation of manners in England, and ho hated the emperor because of his repeated disappointments respecting the papacy; and in both the ends he proposed to effect, the moral reformation and the divorce, he had a good right to count upon the pope's assistance, as matters stood in 1527. But it was impossible that the pope should continue to be the open enemy of the emperor; and unless he should so continue, his aid in the divorce question could not be counted upon. The alliance with the emperor was popular in England, he being ruler of Flanders, with which country England had a great and profitable commerce.
The emperor himself was at that time popular in England: with the reformers, because he was at war with the pope; with the conservatives, because they knew his position necessarily made him the champion of the old order of things, though circumstances had for the time made him their apparent enemy; and generally, because he was the foe of France, England's old rival. Wolsey triumphed over all these obstacles, by convincing Henry that by a change of foreign policy he could cause the pope to grant the divorce he so much desired; and in his correspondence with the English agent at Rome, he declared that the king would disregard the wishes of his subjects and the private interests of his realm, to attach himself cordially and constantly to the holy see, provided the pope should prove his friend in the matter he had so much at heart. That Henry was in part governed by religious feeling, and also by considerations growing out of the subject of the succession, cannot reasonably be doubted; but his attachment to Anne Boleyn, which began some years before the open agitation of the divorce question, was the real occasion of his wish to put away his wife, Anne being resolute in her determination not to be his mistress.
Wolsey was opposed to the proposed marriage with Anne, and the king, without his minister's knowledge, sent his secretary to Rome, with a private proposition that a dispensation should be granted, allowing him to take a second wife, the former marriage to stand with no definite sentence passed upon it; or, if that were impossible, leaving the pope to proceed after his own ideas, the main object to be kept always in view. Wolsey's plan was that the pope should extend his (Wolsey's) legatine authority so far as to grant him full power to act as English vicegerent so long as Rome should be held by the emperor's forces. Soon, however, the public and private agents acted together, and the pope was urgently desired to do that which Henry asked. For years he played a double game, though warned by Wolsey and others of the evil that must follow to Rome from his failure to favor Henry. In 1528 Cardinal Campeggio was appointed to proceed to England, to hear the cause in conjunction with Wolsey; but he purposely delayed his journey, and had instructions not to decide the cause.
He endeavored to persuade the king to give up his wish, and failing, sought to induce Catharine to take the vows of chastity, and to retire from the contest; but that lady, who was singularly tenacious of her rights, would consent only on condition that the king should take the same vows. Henry, now convinced that only bold measures would answer, avowed his intention to make Anno Boleyn his wife, and installed her in Greenwich palace. He sent a relative of the lady to Rome, to announce that his request must be granted, menacing that, if he failed with the pope, the whole matter should be laid before parliament. The emperor sought to intimidate the king; but Henry summoned a meeting of nobles, merchants, and others, at London, before whom he placed the reasons of his conduct, and appealed to the patriotism of his subjects, with success. The imperial threats and intrigues proved very injurious to the queen's cause. The legatine court was prevented by trickery from acting until May, 1529, and then Catharine appealed to Rome, to which Henry was summoned.
Against this Wolsey protested, declaring that if Henry should go to the court of Rome, it would be with such a force as should be formidable to the pope and all Italy. A parliament was immediately called, and power passed into the hands of new men, though of the old aristocracy, and Wolsey's enemies, and opposed to the rule of the church, yet not reformers in every case. At that time there were three parties in the country : the English party, in whose hands was power, and who were determined upon a secular revolt; the papal party, the chief member of which was Sir Thomas More, now chancellor; and the doctrinal Protestants, who were disliked by both the others. Wolsey gave up the seals Oct. 17,1529, and parliament met Nov. 3. The fact that the opening speech was made by More, an extreme Catholic, standing at the king's right hand, shows that Henry had even then no wish to break with Rome. Wolsey was coarsely reflected on by the chancellor. Parliament was left to pursue its own course, and it proceeded to denounce the clergy in a formal "act of accusation," or petition, which contained the germ of the English reformation.
Henry submitted this to the bishops, who replied at length, but ineffectually, as the commons passed several laws respecting the powers and privileges of the clerical order; and the lords concurred, though the clergy formed a majority of the upper house, which shows that the pressure was great from without. The divorce question continued under discussion, and the pope issued two inhibitions, threatening Henry with spiritual censures if he should proceed. The king thought at onetime of giving way, and most of the council agreed with him; but Thomas Cromwell induced him to persevere. Henry hoped the conduct of parliament would intimidate the papal court. The right of the pope to grant that dispensation under which the marriage of Henry and Catharine had taken place was called in question, the object being to transfer the matter to a broader court, and to obtain in some way, as through an appeal to a council, a decision against the marriage. This is said to have been suggested by Cranmer, who made himself very prominent in obtaining the opinions of universities and learned men on the subject, and who belonged to the embassy of the earl of Wiltshire, sent to the emperor at Bologna in 1530. This embassy failed to move Charles. The pope still affected impartiality, and allowed free expression of opinion on the marriage in Italy; but his sole object was delay, and Spanish influence was exerted in the queen's behalf.
In Catholic countries, the sentiments of learned men and other authorities on the dispensing power were about equally divided. The Protestants, including Luther, were gener-rally hostile to Henry. In France and England Henry's cause triumphed, because all the influence of both governments was used in its behalf. The entire proceedings were scandalous. Wolsey had been prosecuted under the statute of provisors, and had died in disgrace; and it was determined to proceed against the higher clergy, but less in the spirit of justice (for the whole nation shared in their guilt) than to obtain an opportunity to strip them of some of their property, and to lessen their power. Convocation met in 1531, and consented to pay a fine of £118,000. In the preamble to their subsidy bill the clergy were compelled to acknowledge Henry as "protector and only supreme head of the church." They were then pardoned. The divorce question was first brought before parliament in 1531, when the opinions of the universities were communicated to it. The house of peers sent a remonstrating letter to the pope, warning him of what would follow if a divorce should not be granted. Catharine was asked if she would withdraw her appeal to Rome, and on her firm refusal she was removed from the court.
In 1532 parliament proceeded in the work of clerical reform, taking its first step toward a breach with Rome by the abolition of annates, which originated with the clergy, who, to preserve their own power at home, were ready to go any length against Rome, even while persecuting Protestants most intolerantly. Parliament was more moderate, and passed the act conditionally. From this time dates "the Anglican schism," the convocation praying to the king, " May it please your highness to ordain in this present parliament that the obedience of your highness and of the people be withdrawn from the see of Rome;" that is, if the pope should insist upon the payment of annates. But this did not prevent parliament from limiting the legislative power of the convocation, in spite of the clergy's opposition. Meantime the nun of Kent and other fanatics were inciting the people to opposition to the government, and a powerful party hostile to change was forming itself. Sir Thomas More resigned the chancellorship; and Archbishop Warham, after protesting against the doings of parliament, died. An offensive and defensive alliance between Francis and Henry was formed in 1532; the former agreed to send 15,000 troops to England, should the emperor invade that country; and he assisted Henry in various ways.
Scotland gave England much trouble at this time. The English court visited that of France at Boulogne, and Francis made great promises of support, and advised Henry to marry Anno Boleyn on his return to England. New efforts were made to move the pope, but though he often affected to favor the king, and made some suggestions implying a desire to gratify him, he could not be prevailed upon to do anything. At length Henry married Anne Bo-leyn, Jan. 25, 1533, according to the generally received account, though it was believed that a secret marriage had taken place in the preceding November. A papal brief soon appeared, declaring Henry and Anne excommunicated, unless they should avoid all intercourse pending the decision of the divorce, the marriage being kept secret. Parliament met, and passed the act of appeals (April 12), directed against the papal authority, and intended to bear against Catharine's appeal to Rome. This took the matter before the convocation, and that body, on Cranmer's application, decided that Pope Julius II., in granting a license for the marriage of Henry and Catharine, had exceeded his authority, and that the marriage was therefore ab initio void.
Cranmer then demanded the king's permission to proceed with the case, which being granted, he opened his court at Dunstable, and summoned Catharine to appear. She refused, and was pronounced contumacious, and the trial proceeded. Judgment was rendered May 23, 1533, the marriage being declared null and void from the beginning. Nine days later the coronation of Anne took place, and it was announced to Catharine that she should no longer be called queen, but princess dowager. There was much discontent, and the emperor, whom Henry in vain sought to appease, believed there would be an insurrection, and urged Catharine not to carry out her design of flying to Spain with her daughter. On May 12 Henry was summoned to appear at Rome, but he appealed to a general council. News of the divorce threw the pope into a rage, yet he contented himself at the time with a conditional excommunication, declaring Cranmer's judgment illegal, and giving Henry more than two months for repentance and restitution. Henry stood firm, but Francis failed to support him, and he had to look to the German Protestants for sympathy; and he sent an envoy to the elector of Saxony, with no effect.
The princess Elizabeth was born Sept. 7, 1533. Conspiracies against the king were formed, implicating both Catharine and her daughter Mary; and the throne was in much danger from the ambition of some parties and the fanaticism of others. Government acted vigorously, and it was determined to form a Protestant league. Parliament met in January, 1534, and took a variety of measures to increase the separation of Rome and England, under Cromwell's lead. The papal authority was conditionally abolished in England. An act of succession was passed, settling the crown upon the children of Henry and Anne. At length the pope gave sentence, deciding against Henry, declaring him excommunicate, and freeing his subjects from allegiance. The emperor was to enforce the sentence, and invade England within four months; and preparations to that end were at once begun. Francis showed himself friendly to Henry, and a meeting between them was prevented only by the latter's fear that a rebellion might break out during his absence. A French fleet guarded the channel through the summer. Henry's conduct was very energetic.
Convocation declared that the pope had no more authority in England than any other bishop; convicted conspirators were executed; military preparations were made; the oaths of allegiance under the statute of succession were taken; and More and Fisher were imprisoned, and ultimately executed, for refusing to admit the king's supremacy. The act of supremacy was passed, making Henry the head of the church, which act has been described as "the epitome of all the measures which had been passed against the encroachments of the spiritual powers within and without the realm," and as being "at once the symbol of the independence of England, and the declaration that thenceforth the civil magistrate was supreme within the English dominions over church as well as state." A new and sweeping treason act was passed. The first fruits were transferred to the crown. The new pope, Paul III., who as Cardinal Farnese had been on Henry's side, showed a desire for reconciliation, and the French king labored in the same direction; but the hour for England's divorce from Rome had come, and all negotiation was now useless? The execution of Fisher and More created a great sensation among Catholics. The pope issued a bull of interdict and deposition against the king.
The union of the Protestants was now more earnestly sought than before, Henry aiming at the formation of a grand league. The visitation of the monasteries commenced in 1535, and the first suppression took place the next year. Catharine died at the beginning of 1536, and the fall of Anne Boleyn occurred four months later, when Henry married Jane Seymour. On Anne's death new overtures came from Rome for a reconciliation, which failed principally through the indiscretion of Reginald Pole. The pilgrimage of grace occurred in 1536, being a popular outbreak, principally due to the suppression of the monasteries and to the social changes that were going on. The dispute was settled by compromise, the government yielding to some of the demands of the insurgents. A second outbreak was put down by force, and many persons were executed. Edward, prince of Wales, was born Oct. 12, 1537, and Queen Jane died 12 days later. During 1538 there were conspiracies against the crown, for which many persons suffered, at the head of whom stood the marquis of Exeter, a grandson of Edward IV. The final dissolution of the monasteries took place in 1539, the same year that the six articles were adopted, forming the new church in England, and embracing the real presence, communion in both kinds not necessary to salvation, forbidding the marriage of priests, upholding vows of chastity, declaring that private masses should be continued, and providing for the continuance of auricular confession.
This was followed by a persecution of the reformers. At the beginning of 1540 Henry married Anno of Cleves, a marriage that had been negotiated by Cromwell, with a view to uniting the Protestants of England and Germany; but the lady's unprepossessing appearance so disgusted the king that he soon procured a divorce, and in a few months Cromwell was sent to the scaffold. Henry took for his fifth wife Catharine Howard, niece of the duke of Norfolk, who was soon attainted and executed for adultery. He married a sixth time (1543), taking Catharine Parr, widow of Lord Latimer, who survived him. The countess of Salisbury, last of the Plantagenets, was executed in 1541. A war broke out between England and Scotland, in which the latter met with nothing but disgrace. England and the empire drew together again, and war was made by both with France. The emperor made peace with France in violation of his faith to England; but peace between England and France was not restored till 1546. In the mean time Henry continued to persecute both Catholics and reformers, and many persons suffered death. Internal reform, however, also went on, and among other changes worship was performed in English. Extreme men on both sides were offended by the king's course, who sought to trim between them.
An act of parliament vested the properties of all hospitals, colleges, and chantries in the crown, but this was to prevent the resumption of such properties after the dissolution of the monasteries, and not as preliminary to confiscation. Toward the close of Henry's reign the conservatives obtained the ascendancy in his councils, and persecuted Protestants with considerable zeal, though Henry, in his very last speech to parliament (December, 1545), spoke as favorably of toleration as any statesman of that age could speak of it. Some of the worst deeds of his reign occurred at this time. Anne Askew was racked and burned, Latimer was arrested, and an attempt was made against the queen. Henry's interference put a stop to the last of these doings, and he was on the point of going as far forward in his work as Elizabeth afterward went, when his reign came to an end. The danger to which Protestantism was exposed in 1546, through the course of the emperor, alarmed him. and he suggested to the Germans an offensive and defensive league, to be called "the league Christian," of which ho should be the head.
He was ready to settle all minor differences with the Germans on religion, and to present a solid front to Rome. Home changes were to be made, the chief of which was the change of the mass into the modern communion. The Germans did not respond well to his offers, and were overthrown by the emperor. Henry was now very ill, being unable either to stand or to walk, and he prepared to settle the government that should exist during his son's minority. The Catholic party was then conspiring to get possession of all power, headed by the earl of Surrey, who was accused of treason, condemned, and executed a few days before Henry's death; and his father, the duke of Norfolk, was attainted by parliament, which met Jan. 14, 1547, and is supposed to have escaped the scaffold only because of the king's death, which happened at 1 o'clock on the morning of the 28th. As Henry's end approached he signified his wish to see Cranmer, who did not arrive until the king had become speechless. The archbishop spoke to him, and, asking him to give him some token that he put his faith in God through Jesus Christ, the king wrung his hand hard, and died.
His will, which provided that daily masses should "be said perpetually while the world shall endure," at an altar to be erected near his tomb and that of Queen Jane, had been completed four weeks before his decease. He bequeathed the crown to his son and his issue, and, failing them, to such issue as he might have of his queen Catharine (Parr), or any other lawful wife whom he might marry. Failing such issue, it was to descend to Mary and her heirs, and then to Elizabeth and her heirs, provided they married not without the consent of their brother, or of the council appointed for his guardianship. Finally, and passing over the Scottish line, it was to go to the children of his sister Mary's two daughters. The government selected for Edward's minority was composed of men from both parties. Henry's reign has often been called a tyranny, but more than once he had to yield to the bold expression of the popular will. He was allowed to do as he pleased with the aristocracy, and he never encountered opposition when he glutted the scaffold with the noblest of victims. His reign was the seedtime of modern English parties, and its history has been written in a partisan spirit which has obscured it. James Anthony Froude is his ablest apologist.
A collection of the papers of Henry VIII. was commenced by J. S. Brewer in 1862, of which seven volumes had been published in 1873.