Portrait of Henry VIII (1491-1547), King of England (1509-1547), Lord of Ireland (1509-1541), King of Ireland (1541-1547), 1542
Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 1509 until his death. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Born 28 June 1491 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, Kent, Henry Tudor was the third child and second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Henry is best known for his six marriages and, in particular, his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Domestically, Henry is known for his radical changes to the English Constitution, ushering into England the theory of the divine right of kings. Besides asserting the sovereign's supremacy over the Church of England, he greatly expanded royal power during his reign. Charges of treason and heresy were commonly used to quell dissent, and those accused were often executed without a formal trial, by means of bills of attainder. He achieved many of his political aims through the work of his chief ministers, some of whom were banished or executed when they fell out of his favour. Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, and Thomas Cranmer all figured prominently in Henry's administration. He was an extravagant spender and used the proceeds from the Dissolution of the Monasteries and acts of the Reformation Parliament to convert into royal revenue the money that was formerly paid to Rome. Despite the influx of money from these sources, Henry was continually on the verge of financial ruin due to his personal extravagance as well as his numerous costly continental wars, particularly with Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as he sought to enforce his claim to the Kingdom of France. At home, he oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 and following the Crown of Ireland Act 1542 he was the first English monarch to rule as King of Ireland. His contemporaries considered Henry in his prime to be an attractive, educated and accomplished king. As he aged, Henry became severely obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547.
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