King of England b.1491 d.1547. Second son of Henry VII, he reigned from 1509-1547 after the death of his older brother Arthur Tudor, receiving dispensation from the Pope to marry his brother's widow Catherine of Aragon. Following difficulties with Rome over his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, he split from the Roman Catholic Church, seized many of the Church's assets, and formed the Church of England. This became final with the passing of the Act of Supremacy 1536.
|Henry in middle age|
Henry VIII greatly improved English seapower and instituted an efficient navy.
Henry is also famous for his six wives. After divorcing Catherine of Aragon, he married Anne Boleyn. While Anne bore Henry a female child Elizabeth, she did not give him the male heir he so desperatly wanted. For this reason he had her executed on trumped up charges of adultery and married Jane Seymour. Seymour gave Henry a male child, but she died while doing so. The boy was sickly, however, and Henry tried three more wives, none of which bore him any children.