Henry VIII is one of England’s most infamous monarchs. He is famous for his six wives and their grizzly ends: Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.

Henry was born in Greenwich (pronounced Gren-idge) on 28th June 1491. He ruled from his father’s death in 1509, until his death on the 28th January 1547.


Catherine of Aragon

Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Isabella I of Castille and Ferdinand II of Aragon – both part of modern Spain. She was originally married to Henry’s older brother Arthur for a year when he suddenly passed away. They were married in 1509 until 1533. Together they had 5 still born children, a son – Henry the Duke or Cornwall, who lived for 26 days, and a daughter – Mary I of England who was born in 1519.

When Henry went to war with France, he left her as regent while he was away. She fought a battle for him in the Battle of Flodden between England and Scotland. She won the battle – easily defeating the Scottish. When news reached Henry in France he was happy but far from impressed. He wasn’t succeeding in his campaigns against the French and was irritated that his Queen, a woman, could fight a battle more successfully than he could.

After her failure to produce a living heir, Henry grew tired of her and wanted to annul the marriage. He was infatuated by one of her ladies-in-waiting Anne Boleyn, only making Catherine more of and inconvenience to him.

After 9 long years, and creating a new church – The Church of England, Henry finally divorced Catherine, accusing her of a consummated marriage to his brother, although she always claimed it wasn’t.

In 1533, Anne was already pregnant, so Henry married her in secret, and appointed Thomas Cranmer as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, who granted Henry’s divorce.After the divorce, she was forced to leave

After the divorce, she was forced to leave the court and was denied visitation to her daughter. She died in 1536 of, presumably, cancer. When Henry heard this news he threw a huge banquet dressing in gold from head to toe and rejoiced.


Anne Boleyn

Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn spent a number of years in France with her sister where they were ladies-in-waiting to the French queen. Anne returned to England and became a lady-in-waiting to Catherine. She caught Henry’s eye after she came back to England, and he was besotted with her.

Anne was an ambitious young woman and was determined not to be just one of Henry’s mistresses, like her sister and possibly her mother. She wouldn’t settle for anything less than Queen, and pressed Henry for years, promising him the son and heir that he wanted. In 1533, her work paid off.

Anne was pregnant with a child but miscarried three and a half months into the pregnancy.She miscarried another child, before giving birth to Elizabeth I of England. Henry was so angry that the child was a girl that he didn’t even go to the christening.

Before becoming queen, Anne had almost died of ‘the sweating sickness’, a type of influenza, but she came to a much more gruesome end. After failing to produce a male heir, Henry started to grow tired of her. Rumours started circulating that Anne was a witch, as she had six fingers on her left hand, which was thought to be the sign of the devil.

Rumours started circulating that Anne was a witch, as she had six fingers on her left hand, which was thought to be the sign of the devil. There was also gossip that she was having an affair and that she was conspiring to kill Henry.

She was put on trial and found guilty of adultery and high treason. She was sentenced to death, and Henry had a French swordsman brought in to execute her. She made a speech about her devotion to God and the King, then placed her head on the block, and the executioner cut off her head with the swift strike of a sword.


Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour was Henry’s third and most beloved wife. Jane was a lady-in-waiting to both Catherine and Anne. Jane was also the second cousin of  Anne Boleyn – Jane’s father and Anne’s mother were cousins.

Jane was the first and only wife of Henry to bear him a son. On the 12th October. Edward VI of England was born, and the country rejoiced. But with every good thing, there must be a bad, and the bad was that Jane was gravely ill with either puerperal or childbed fever.

She died twelve days later on the 24th October 1537, and Henry asked to be buried next to her.


Anne of Cleves

After Jane Seymour passed away, and Henry had mourned her, he was shown a painting of princess Anne of Cleves. He fell in love with the painting and asked for her hand in marriage. But when he met her he exclaimed: “She looks like a horse!”.

He divorced her after just 6 months! Reports claim that their marriage was never consummated.


Catherine Howard

As the fourth wife of Henry, Catherine Howard was much younger that Henry was. She was a lady-in-waiting to Anne of Cleves, and cousin to Anne Boleyn. Henry was infatuated with her and showered her with many gifts and showed much public affection.

She is described as being ‘flirtatious, emotional and silly’ and rarely understood the consequences of her actions, and her silliness continued throughout her time as queen. She was more attracted to men her own age and after seventeen months into their marriage, she was arrested on accusations of adultery.

She had committed crimes against the king (high treason) and was executed on 13 February  1542.


Catherine Parr

Catherine Parr was the sixth wife of Henry VIII and was also the last. She had been a lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon. She had been married to two men before Henry. In 1529 she was married to Edward Borough – she was only 17! Edward died in 1533 leaving her a 21-year-old widow. She married again in 1534, this time to John Neville – he was 41 and she was 22. John Neville  died in 1543 aged 50.

Edward died in 1533 leaving her a 21-year-old widow. She married again in 1534, this time to John Neville – he was 41 and she was 22. John Neville  died in 1543 aged 50.

He 3rd husband was Henry. They were married in 1542. She was a protestant, a religion highly frowned upon at the time, and at one point she had a warrant issued against her, but luckily someone close to her notified her of this, and she came up with a cover story and acted very Catholic to cover it up.

Henry died in January 1547 and she had probably been expected to play some part in the regency of Edward VI, but she was secretly married off to Thomas Seymour – the brother of Jane Seymour which was very scandalous at the time.

She had a daughter named Mary on the 30th August 1548 and fell ill with puerperal fever on the 5th September.


Which wife do you think had the best time as queen? Who do you think had the worst?

History Teen ❤