Marriage, monarchy and man about town.
Henry didn’t like marriage. Contrary to popular belief, he really
didn’t care much for it at all. Henry liked being king, he loved the
perks and he liked duty. Duty dictated the Monarch leave a male heir.
Now, you may ask,
where does this leave those six lovely women he dragged to the altar?
Henry became engaged
to Catherine of Aragon, his brother Arthur’s widow. Not odd,
considering her lineage and connections. At the time of the engagement
Catherine was 17 and Henry 12. Yes he started early.
They married in 1509,
the year Henry became king at age 18. He and Catherine stayed married
over twenty years, having many children with only Mary surviving. Henry
divorced Catherine in 1533 after getting Anne pregnant. He’d been
trying to divorce Catherine for years, finally succeeding only after
separating all of Britain from the Catholic Church. The Pope refused the
divorce request so Henry declared himself the head of the Church of
England and granted his own divorce. Simple. Reasonable. Use what’s at
your disposal. He was a resourceful guy.
Exit Catherine, enter
Pregnant Anne, a
servant in the Queen’s household, married Henry in 1533 and gave birth
soon after to Elizabeth. Henry was having little luck with producing a
son, but of course he didn’t see it that way. The ladies were to blame
and rather conveniently, Henry found Anne guilty of adultery and had her
beheaded in 1536. Unfortunately for Anne, this was a treasonous offense
against the Crown. Bummer. Anne loses her head, Henry wasted no time.
The same month, May,
he married Jane Seymour, then pregnant with Edward. She gave birth in
Oct. and died twelve days later.
You would think his
track record might frighten women off.
Henry waited almost
two years before his next marriage. He invented the first dating
service. He sent painters all over Europe to paint the most beautiful
women they could find. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Henry
beheld the Holbein painting of a beautiful German princess and arranged
a marriage immediately to
Ann of Cleves.
Apparently a real
hottie for her day, Ann’s portrait just did not capture her real
essence. An essence which Henry divorced that same year (1540).
Still that same year
(big year for Henry and court) he married Katherine Howard, a lady
frequently seen at Court. Henry took a fancy to her, married her and
then took her head two years later for alleged affairs.
Wife number six was
Catherine Parr, a woman about whom not much is known.
She bore Hank no kids, which did not match well with the survival
rate of his other children. She
and Henry grew older and still no children.
When Henry died, Cathy disappeared into the sea of court faces
and life in Britain continued.
Now, despite the
songs written, or the possible satire focusing on Henry’s marriages,
this monarch changed the face of the institution of marriage forever,
not to mention a few religious changes along the way.
Something that history cannot forget.
2003 – Sex Scrolls