In 1509, Henry VIII became the second Tudor King of England. He was 17 by that time and the English people were happy about their new king. When he came to the throne, one of the first things he did was reduce the taxes which had been a lot when his father was king. He had also been a strong Catholic supporter at the start of his reign and did not allow any criticisms towards the Church; he was even given the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ by Pope LeoX.He had married a Spanish princess called Catherine of Aragon in order to make a strong alliance with Spain ( which was one of the 2 most powerful countries in the world at that time ). But after 24 years of marriage with Catherine, she had only produced a daughter called Mary, and was too old to have any more children. Henry knew he had to marry again to a younger woman to give him a son.
People at Tudor times believed that women were not strong enough to be a ruler and Henry feared that England would be invaded; without a strong male heir, the Tudor family would collapse.In 1527, refused by Pope Clement VII for an annulment to end their marriage, Henry had only one choice left and that was make himself the Head of English Church. To do this he had to close down the monasteries to avoid expensive wars against the Catholic powers after he broke with Rome. Although it seemed to many people that he closed down the monasteries for money, but many of them were really not doing their jobs properly.
E.g. the traditional jobs of monks like copying out books were no longer needed and there were very few monks in monasteries and they needed to be closed down.Also monks were meant to make vows of poverty and chastity, but many had money and mistresses.
The picture on pg. 11 and Source B on pg. 13 show how much wealth and land monasteries and nunneries owned when they were supposed to lead simple lives and not renting out land. By closing down the monasteries, Henry gained a lot of money which he would have got otherwise by raising the tax.Throughout his lifetime, Henry married six times; two of them were to make good relations with other countries: Spain and Germany, which shows that he did care for England. Although he chopped two of his wives heads off, he was nice to them when they were married. As Anne Boleyn said before she was executed, ‘I pray God save the King, and send him long reign over you.
..for to me he was always a good, gentle and sovereign Lord.’Out of his three children, he had declared not only once that two of them, Elizabeth and Mary, were illegimates because of their mothers. But he still loved them and in his final will, he declared they had the rights to succeed after Edward.I agree..
.Henry VIII had a strange habit of ditching people when they were not useful to him anymore. Four of his wives got either divorced or beheaded for things that were not entirely their fault. Catherine of Aragon, after 24 years of marriage, was kicked out just because she had failed to produce a son. Anne Boleyn was beheaded for the same reason although she was accused of treason.
Biologically, it was not the Queens’ fault but Henry’s and medical knowledge at that time was very basic, so giving birth to dead babies was not surprising. Anne of Cleves was divorced because she was not pretty enough and Katherine Howard because she had flirted with other men.Henry was very fond of hunting, gambling and dancing so he had only an hour a day on government business.
He left most of it to his ministers whom he could always execute when they mad an unpopular decision.Six years after Henry asked the Pope for a divorce in 1527 and got refused, he had thought about making himself the Head of the English Church by changing the country to Protestant. Many people opposed him. Among them, there were: his Lord Chancellor Thomas More, The Pope himself, King Charles V of Spain and many more. In order to go along with his own way, he executed people who thought him wrong and some strong Catholic believers, tortured monks before beheading them and ignored King Charles V of Spain’s threat of invading England if he divorced his aunt.
An English merchant, Robert Hilles, once said to a friend, ‘It is no novelty among us to see men slain, hung, quartered, beheaded… for comments that were.
.. interpreted as having been spoken against King Henry.’Finally in 1533, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, who was appointed by Henry himself, announced that Henry could now officially marry Anne Boleyn.
One year later, he passed the Act of Supremacy and ordered his advicer Thomas Cromwell and his inspectors to check on the monasteries. The inspectors exaggerated the situation, saying that the monks had a lot of money; monasteries rent out land and were doing things that they were not supposed to. But most of the monks worked hard and did not accept any wealth. Source D on pg. 13 explains that monasteries did do their jobs properly: they gave money to the poor and educated people.Despite all the protests, once Henry had decided on something, he would do it. So between 1536 and 1539, 850 monasteries were closed down. They were all striped down and whatever could be taken had gone to Henry himself.
Among the monasteries, there was one called Fountains Abbey which was a very rich monastery, but after the dissolution all that was left was a shell of the building. Henry got a huge amount of money from the dissolution, but spent it all in an expensive and unsuccessful war with France.In Yorkshire, 1536, a Catholic lawyer called Robert Aske led a rebellion which consisted of 30,000 people to defend the monasteries. This was known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. When Henry knew about it, he ordered the Duke of Norfolk to ‘execute upon a good number of the inhabitants, hanging them on trees, quartering them, and setting the quarters in every town, as shall be a fearful warning.
‘ In the end, Robert Aske was burnt at stake.Conclusion:Henry was not a wicked man as most people see him as. He grew up as a king which meant he could absolutely have anything he wanted and everyone should obey him. He was not used to the idea of people not agreeing on the same thing as him. And so the only thing he could do in order to tell people that he was always right was to execute those ones who disobeyed him. However he was not there to witness the executions of his Lord Chancellors, advicers and wives, and so he did not know what it was like. Also he did not want to; he knew if he did then his mind would be swayed by their words of pleading and asking for mercy.
From a family point of view, he was a good husband and father. He loved his wives and children, but even them as he saw it, should not disagree with him. And those ones who did were sadly beheaded.Henry was a very complex character, although to many people, he did not seem to be a good king, but considering his own situation there was very little he could do to make everyone and himself happy at the same time.