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Well, Weekend Warriors, it isn’t often that I’m addressing a monarch of England that is as commonly known as Henry VIII. Last week, we met his father, King Henry VII, who was the first of the House of Tudor to reign over England. As of 1509, however, we’re singin’ “Henry the Eighth I am”…Well, I mean, I’m not, and neither are you, and neither is Jonathan Rhys Meyers unfortunately, so let’s get down to who is this man…

Henry VIII and his father both outlive Henry’s older brother Arthur, which is why Henry VIII succeeds instead. And it’s not only the throne he inherits…he also gets Arthur’s widow, Catherine of Aragon. Throughout his first years as king, Henry VIII isn’t particularly hands-on when it comes to matters of state—he entrusts much of this to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to allow the king himself more time for hunting and such. He does also enjoy engaging in war, though, so Wolsey is instrumental in arranging campaigns, such as against the Scottish in 1513 (victorious for England) and a costly battle against the French that proves unsuccessful.

Wolsey has served Henry VIII well to this point, until the king’s need for a male heir leads to a massive rift between the men. It is now 1533, and Catherine of Aragon, you see, has failed to produce Henry VIII a male heir. She’s given him one surviving daughter, however: Mary. Henry seeks Wolsey’s support in procuring a papal annulment so he can marry Anne Boleyn, but such is not to be. So, the king who in 1521 wrote a treatise denouncing Martin Luther’s views toward the Church—and was thereby awarded the title “Defender of the Faith” by the Pope—is now himself on the verge of a religious reformation of his own.

Join me next week as we see the birth of the Church of England and the death of some wives…

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