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(Greenwich, 1491 - Westminster, 1547) King of England (1509-1547), belonging to the Tudor Dynasty. Less well known by the achievements of his reign that his six wives, the famed Enrique VIII of England has become popular with an often distorted image culture. It is often remind their wives deceived, rejected or executed, forgetting that the own monarch, in their legitimate yearning to have sons who perpetuate the dynasty, was often victim of the evil arts of their women, little competent advisors or simply the fortune.
Henry VIII of England
Catherine of Aragon
Ana de Clèves (portrait of Hans Holbein)
Henry VIII of England
While Enrique VIII bedroom life was fascinating and deserves to be told and known, not less true is that little historical incidence was in his reign, with the crucial exception of the sad story of Ana Bolena: the mistress and then second wife of Enrique VIII was one of the triggers of the Anglican schism. Disconnected from Rome, the King went on to be head of the Church of England, dissolved the religious orders and seized their property.
The consequences were profound: the real power was strengthened, and obtained wealth favoured an incipient industrialization and the development of the British Navy, base of a future military and commercial power that daughter would manifest in the Elizabethan era, i.e., during the reign of Isabel I of England (1558-1603), precisely of Ana Bolena. In foreign policy, Enrique VIII knew the difficult balance of the European powers, which attests to his ability as a statesman.
Second son of Enrique VII of England, future Enrique VIII was nine years old when he attended as infante to the marriage of his brother mayor Arthur, Prince of Wales, with Catherine of Aragon, younger daughter of the Catholic monarchs. Arthur was the eldest son and thus the heir to the throne of Enrique VII, who with this union was intended to consolidate its alliance with Spain and ensure a prolific offspring to their lineage.
Everything seemed to go aft to the Tudors when, five months later, while still a recent jubilant echoes of the wedding, Prince Arthur died victim of an acute flu that doctors of the time were powerless. Suddenly, everything seemed to unravel. The health of King Enrique VII was notoriously bad, and his only surviving son, the future Enrique VIII, had not reached yet the age of majority. He was immediately declared successor in anticipation of any contingency.
Enrique VII died in 1509, and Enrique VIII held the throne for his deceased brother. Henry VIII was then seventeen and was a handsome lad who was missing not understanding or statesmanship. After belting the Crown in place of his brother, it was considered that, for reasons of State, it was necessary to replace him also as husband. Get rid of Catherine of Aragon and return to their country was supposed to lose the substantial dowry provided by their parents and, what was even more important, cut a loop of inestimable value to the Spanish Crown, more necessary than ever in the scrambled European political context at the time.
The solution was to declare null the link of Catalina with Arthur. The own Catherine of Aragon acknowledged before an ecclesiastical tribunal that the previous marriage had not been consummated disability of a spouse and that, therefore, she continued to be maid. The Holy See did not drawback to grant the waiver and, two months after climbing to the throne, Enrique VIII married Catherine of Aragon, five years older than him.
Catherine of Aragon
Since the sudden death of Arthur, Catherine of Aragon had remained secluded in the Welsh fortress of Ludlow, delivered to prayers and mourning and waiting for what you were the target. The long closure had become a midwife's withered appearance and exaggerated devout customs. After his wedding with Enrique VIII gave birth six times, but only male born with life only encouraged during fifty-two days.
Catherine of Aragon
Henry VIII began to interested scruples of conscience and consider that the origin of the curse was in the Bible: "You should not discover the nakedness of your brother's wife", sentence Leviticus. His marriage with his sister-in-law, I thought, was not valid, but sinful and forbidden; Catalina was cursed and must be rid of it. The international situation allowed the adoption of drastic measures. The preponderance in Europe of the Almighty sovereign Spanish Carlos V, Roman-Germanic Emperor and owner of half the world, Enrique VIII led to approaching France to counteract its force. He could rid themselves of Catalina without losing allies, although it would not be easy to find a legal or apparently legal way to do so.
No less decisive than the lack of offspring and the European situation was the entrance scene of Ana Bolena, English nobleman who, after being educated in France, had returned in 1522 to the Court as a Lady of the Queen Catalina. Its appeal aroused passions among towering figures, among them the same Enrique VIII, who tried to seduce her and hampered her marriage with lord Henry Percy. But the ambitious Ana Bolena was not willing to become mere lover; I wanted to be Queen and, by coldly calculated alternating favors and scorn, got that Enrique VIII based head over heels for it.
The Anglican schism
Cultured and intelligent, Enrique VIII had shown since his youth his fervent Catholicism. He had used his brilliance against the Protestant reform launched by Luther in 1520, showing as a vigorous defender of the Catholic faith. 'Defender of faith' was exactly the title gave the Pope León X by the Treaty of the seven sacraments, which the monarch had written in 1521.
But this situation would change as a result of the conflict unleashed with the Church by the pressing problem of inheritance: the marriage with Catherine of Aragon had not given male heirs. In 1527, Enrique VIII asked Pope Clement VII the annulment of the marriage so pretext of the prior relationship between the spouses. The Pope, pressed by Carlos V (who was nephew of Catherine), denied the cancellation, and Enrique VIII decided to break with Rome, advised by Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell.
To do this, Enrique VIII armed arguments from different European universities to seek opinions favorable to your divorce (1529); and took advantage of the prevailing discontent among the English secular clergy by excessive papal taxation and the accumulation of wealth in the hands of religious orders to become head of the Church of England (1531) to recognize.
In 1533 did Thomas Cranmer (who had been named Archbishop of Canterbury) annulled her first marriage and crowned Queen her lover, Ana Bolena. Pope Clement VIII responded with the excommunication of the King. Enrique VIII reaction was no less blunt: did approve in Parliament the Act of supremacy (1534), by virtue of which declared the independence of the Anglican Church and established the maximum authority of the King.
The Church of England was thus released from the obedience of Rome and converted into an independent national church whose head was the King himself, which would allow the Crown to expropriate and sell the assets of the monasteries; English Catholics who remained faithful to Rome were persecuted as traitors; its main exponent, the humanist Thomas more, author of Utopia, was executed in 1535.
Enrique VIII, however, did not permit that they were put into question the fundamental tenets of Catholicism; to avoid this, it issued the Act of six articles (1539). It could obviously not prevent that, after his death, Cranmer carried out reform of the Anglican Church, which is placed permanently in the field of Protestant Christianity, with the introduction of Lutheran and Calvinist.
Even having been excommunicated and finding dissatisfaction with himself and victim of the remorse, nothing prevented Enrique VIII enjoy the favors of Anne Boleyn, who had given him passionately as soon as events began to promote it.
In the middle of March 1533, Ana Bolena told her Royal lover that she was pregnant. Henry, mad with joy, arranged the ceremony, which took place on 1 June in Westminster Abbey. Few cheers were heard from the crowd: people saw in it an upstart concubine devoid of scruples that had bedeviled their good King bad arts.
Three months later, the new Queen gave birth a daughter Isabel would be called and it would become one of the largest English sovereigns, but Enrique VIII could not know it and felt very disappointed: the whole scandal had failed to secure the succession. The birth of a female weakened considerably the situation of Ana Bolena.
The 7 January 1536 she died Catherine of Aragon, alone, abandoned, and away from the Court. Twenty days later, Ana Bolena gave birth again, this time a dead son. Enrique did not even deign to visit her; accused of adultery, which had to confess after being tortured, haughty and calculating head of Ana was soon to fall (May 19, 1536) and the marriage was declared null by the English prelates.
Meanwhile, the King had wasted no time. Your new favorite was called Joan Seymour and was a young lady of descendant by collateral branch of Eduardo III. In contrast to the manipulative and strong coldness of Ana Bolena, Juana Seymour was a woman timid and docile, but also educated and intelligent, and was probably, out of all his wives, who most loved Enrique VIII.
The monarch promised himself officially with Juana two days after the execution of Ana Bolena. In 1537, Juana Seymour broke him of happiness by giving him a son, Eduardo, who would succeed his father as Eduardo VI. Thus moved away the ghost of the curse that seemed to weigh on the dynasty; the child was born weak and sickly, but the King could hope to soon have more sons, strong and healthy. Why it is plunged in sorrow when, two weeks after the birth, Juana Seymour died of a puerperal fever. Henry VIII made it to bury in the Royal pantheon of Windsor; officially, Juana Seymour had been the first Queen.
Anne of Cleves
It took two years until he decided to new marriage. In 1540, Enrique VIII returned to marry Ana de Clèves to strengthen the Alliance of England with the German Protestants. Forty-seven years old and already replacement the disappearance of Joan, he had decided to try his luck once more encouraged by their valid Thomas Cromwell, who showed her a captivating portrait of the Princess Ana de Clèves, painted by Hans Holbein the younger, where there was an adorable girl of angelic factions.
Ana de Clèves (portrait of Hans Holbein)
Belonging to the German nobility, Ana de Clèves living away from London and had never walked on England, but this was not without prejudice so the capitulations signed solemnly and so the meeting of the King had with his future wife. Unfortunately for Henry, the master Holbein had been pious excess with his model; Hannah had the countenance marked by smallpox, enormous nose, and horrifically protruding teeth. In addition, unaware of another language that wasn't German and his voice reminded the whinny of a horse.
The hapless husband accepted the yoke which was imposed to him and agreed to the marriage because it is an obligation in advance, but could not consummate the union because, in his words, it was impossible to overcome the disgust that he felt "in the company of that flabby breasts and shivery laughter Flemish Mare".
Just six months after the wedding, the Queen was "issued" to Richmond Palace and started procedures for sentencing the dissolution of the bond. Clèves Ana was compensated with two vast countryside residences and a juicy pension in Exchange for not appearing anymore by the Court. Voluntary named "His grace the sister of the King", remained imprisoned in his possessions the rest of its existence and had complied with the terms of the Pact.
The case of the next wife, Catherine Howard, had a completely opposite start. While the portraits that are preserved from it do not do justice, today we know that in person he was dazzling. In the presence of the nymph, King believed to be dreaming. Countersunk eyes, her red hair and her perfect figure Bewitched thereby the monarch that the wedding was arranged with unusual haste.
All the pageantry of the Tudor Court, extinct after the death of Juana Seymour, appeared again under the stimulus of the new Queen, magnificent, lively and always cheerful. Henry VIII seemed to be living a second youth, but his enthusiasm was short-lived. How much had invented to discredit Ana Bolena and take it to the scaffold turned out to be an incontrovertible truth in the case of Catherine Howard: apparently, capricious girl had maintained relationships with his tutor and several musicians since the age of thirteen, activity which had continued even after his link with the King.
The list of her lovers was increased by moments and some Gallants of the Court were descuartizados after confessing relationships with Catherine. The Queen was crudely checked "being harlot before marriage and adulteress after it". On February 12, 1542 was executed in the same place that Ana Bolena and by the same executioner.
With this curriculum to their backs, is not surprising that, when a beautiful Duchess received years later about actual Commissioners responsible to ask for her hand in the name of Enrique VIII, she respond without blinking: "Tell his Majesty that I would marry him if I had a spare head". Because the King, despite having gained considerably and be victim of intense attacks of gout, wanted a new wife.
The Crown Prince was too weak and did not conceive of hopes, so a new Queen who give him more children was required to secure the succession. However, Enrique VIII was the first to show skeptical, especially after the many disappointments and troubles that women had made in their marriages and love affairs earlier: "I am now old and need more a nurse a wife; I doubt there is any woman willing to support me and take care of my poor body."
However, the woman appeared in the life of the old King. It was Catalina Parr, Lady of noble condition which had been married twice, had a considerable fortune, and was exceptionally educated for his time. Hacendosa, responsible, studious and intelligent, there was no doubt that it was the ideal person to accompany the King in his later years. Access to the throne it gave not a single sample of arrogance. Discreetly but effectively it took over all domestic matters and knew how to provide Henry, after his tragic earlier marriages, five years of peace and peaceful old age.
The sovereign died January 28, 1547. At his funeral, along with the Royal standard, the familiar signs of Juana Seymour and Catalina Parr, settled only two women who had officially contracted marriage with Enrique VIII and therefore included as Queens. Back were the devout Catherine of Aragon, the ambitious Ana Bolena, the graceful little Anne of Cleves and the lusty Catherine Howard, builders of a fatal destiny which the Tudor House escaped miraculously.
His only son succeeded him on the throne male, Eduardo VI, born from the marriage with Juana Seymour, who was only nine years old and died in 1553. Then opened a period of Catholic reaction during the reign of Mary I Tudor, daughter of Enrique VIII, born of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon. On the death of María Tudor in 1558, occupied the throne, another daughter of Enrique VIII, Elizabeth I, born of the marriage with Ana Bolena.
Enrique VIII reign
It should be noted that the episode of Catherine of Aragon and Ana Bolena had a fundamental impact in his reign; as a result of the Act of supremacy (1534), the destinations of England took well differently to those who could point out how likely. The Act of supremacy established an Anglican Church restoration of Catholic and under the Royal authority, but without renouncing to the dogmas and condemning the reformed doctrines (Act of the six articles, 1539). But while this church was originally only schismatic, not unorthodox, it wouldn't take long distance themselves from dogma and approaching Lutheranism.
The hegemony of the monarch over the Church would be the strong foundation on which a new era settled. The monarchy was enriched with the benefits gained from the sale of church property (in 1539 were dissolved the religious orders and confiscated all their property), which opened a period of economic prosperity that favored a nascent industrialization and led to the creation of a powerful maritime fleet, base of the subsequent military and commercial power.
The reign of Enrique VIII of England, in short, was characterized by a strengthening of the Royal authority, to submit entirely to the Church and remove the last feudal structures. That did not prevent the consolidation of the Parliament, at the same time as an instrument of the policy of the King and as the representative of the United body. Wales was assimilated to England (1536) and has centralized the jurisdiction over the marks. Annexed in addition Ireland, which Enrique VIII was proclaimed King in 1541.
Another important chapter was the victorious campaigns against Scotland in 1512-1513 and 1542-1545, which were not enough to unify Great Britain under their power. On the other hand, England increased its role in Europe, thanks to the growth of its Navy and a foreign policy that is dominated by the search for the balance between the continental powers: first he fought against France allying with Charles V, but when, after the victory of Pavia (1525), thought that the Spanish Emperor reached an excessive power, Enrique VIII allied against it next to the French King Francis I.