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I'm Henry the 8th I am...
King Henry VIII ruled England from 1509-1547. He is often considered to be the ideal Renaissance monarch thanks to his fierce leadership and braggadocious ways. In Henry's mind, the greatest failure of his reign was his inability to produce a male heir. He blamed this on his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragón (who was also the widow of his dead brother).
Catherine was the youngest surviving child of Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (the very same that funded Christopher Columbus' historic voyages). Like most of his contemporaries, Henry believed that a woman could never hold a throne because they were inferior to men. He was convinced that he had to have a son to ensure that the Tudor Dynasty would continue to rule and keep England from civil war. (He already had a daughter, Mary, with Catherine.)
Henry had affairs with ladies of his court until he fell in love with Anne Boleyn. In 1527, Henry began looking for a way out of his marriage, arguing that the Catholic Church prohibited marriage between a man and his brother's widow... even though he had sought Papal approval before marrying Catherine in the first place. Henry, a devout Catholic, knew the Church condemned annulments and divorces. When he was denied either, he reformed the Anglican Church and developed a Protestant theology that granted him a divorce. In so doing, Henry ushered in the Protestant Reformation in England. (A "quick bio" of his wives is further below, so keep scrolling...)
Henry died in a "less than king-like" fashion. Toward the end of his regal life, Henry weighed 320 lbs. He was large and in charge. Of course, the blood in his legs had trouble getting to his heart and back, which resulted in a huge throbbing (and open wound) to develop on his thigh. Henry's "sore" was not to be discussed. In fact, he had spies go out into public and arrest anyone caught discussing it. (The punishment: ears cut off or burned at the stake.) After suffering a jousting accident (can you imagine the poor horse he was riding!), Henry was confined to his bed, where his royal doctors attempted to drain the wound. It didn't work. He died on at age 55 from an infected leg and not enough blood getting to his lungs (a.k.a. pulmonary embolism). For two days, no one informed the public that Henry was dead. (In fact, his servants still delivered his meals to his chambers.) Eventually he was put in a lead coffin... that wasn't perfectly sealed. This caused his remains to build up enough toxicity that his corpse... exploded. He was buried next to his third wife, Jane, who gave him his much-desired heir to the throne.
Henry VIII on Facebook...
The Tudor Dynasty Family Tree
Henry VIII had 6 wives (3 Catherines, 2 Annes, and 1 Jane) and beheaded 2 of them. His 3rd wife, Jane Seymour, gave him his male heir, Edward VI, in 1537. Edward became king at age 9... but died at age 15 from
poisoning, or syphilis.
Henry weighed 320 lbs when he died in 1547. This means he liked to eat. A lot. In fact, here's an example of what Henry and his Royal Court (which consisted of about 1,200 people) would eat in ONE day:
* 11 cows
* 17 pigs
* 6 sheep
* 450 chickens
* 6 cranes (a bird... not construction equipment)
* 72 geese
* 648 larks
* 4 peacocks
* 384 pigeons
* 15 swans
* 1,300 apples
* 3,000 pears
* 3,000 loaves of bread
In order to hide his girth, Henry started wearing padded clothes with puffy
sleeves. Out of respect for the king, everyone at court started wearing padded
clothing too, and a new trend was born... the Renaissance puffy shirt!
As one can imagine, Henry's first daughter Mary was a wee bit upset that the crown went to her half-brother Edward... especially because she was the oldest. (That whole "no penis" thing always got in the way for female monarchs.)
Being so young, Edward was easily influenced by the Protestants that surrounded him. Because Mary was a devout Catholic, Edward removed her from the Line of Succession. After his early death, the crown went to Lady Jane Gray (Edward's first cousin once removed - I know, I know, I can never follow that stuff, either).
You better believe the 37-year-old Mary wasn't about to let this 16-year-old tart become queen... so she marched into London, had Lady Jane Gray arrested (after a reign of 9 days) and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Gray was later executed in 1554.
During Mary's 5-year reign, she had over 300 Protestants executed in an attempt to overturn the "damage" done by the Reformation. This certainly contributed to her nickname of "Bloody" Mary. After many failed pregnancies, she died childless from uterine cancer in 1558. As a result, her 25-year-old half-sister Elizabeth became queen... and would rule England for 45 years.
Whether by choice or by chance, Elizabeth also died childless... ending Henry's legacy and the Tudor Dynasty when the crown was passed to King James of Scotland. (Ironically, Henry specifically wrote in his Line of Succession that the crown should NEVER go to a Scot. He hated Scotland.
Understandibly, Elizabeth had "Daddy Issues" since her Mom was, you know, BEHEADED! Essentially, she got the last laugh... and the Kingdoms of England and Scotland were united.
Some conspiracy theorists say that "Queen" Elizabeth I was actually a man. (You read that right.)
In 1542, King Henry VIII was on his way to a hunt
at Berkeley, and left his 9 year-old daughter, Elizabeth, at Overcourt in
Bisley (now a home, but once a royal hunting lodge), where she would be safe
from the bubonic plague which was prevalent in those days.
Unfortunately for Elizabeth and her temporary guardians, the princess - according to the legend - died, but the courtiers, ever fearful of their royal master, devised a cunning plan. A
substitute for the princess had to be found before the king returned, but alas,
no girl could be found who closely resembled the dead Elizabeth. So they opted for Plan B - and found a boy in the village instead.
If the legend is to be believed, Master/Mistress Elizabeth must have been very convincing, as history tells us that Elizabeth went on to be a great queen, reigning for 45 years.
Conspiracies point to the fact that Queen Elizabeth I never married, which, was very unusual during that time; she was completely bald, covering her head with wigs; she had left explicit instructions that no post-mortem should be carried out on her body after her death; she wore lots of white powder to cover a five o'clock shadow; she wore giant ruffs around her neck to hide her Adam's apple; her remains were reburied, but no-one knows where, and no grave has ever been found. Spoooooky!