henry viii


  1. Defender of the Faith, 1491–1547, king of England 1509–47 (son of Henry VII).
  2. (italics) a drama (1612–13?) by Shakespeare.


  1. 1491–1547, king of England (1509–47); second son of Henry VII. The declaration that his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid and his marriage to Anne Boleyn (1533) precipitated the Act of Supremacy, making Henry supreme head of the Church in England. Anne Boleyn was executed (1536) and Henry subsequently married Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. His reign is also noted for the fame of his succession of advisers, Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, and Thomas Cromwell

A king of England in the early sixteenth century. With the support of his Parliament, Henry established himself as head of the Christian Church in England, in place of the pope, after the pope refused to allow his marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be dissolved. Since that time, except for a few years of rule under Henry’s daughter Mary I, who was a Roman Catholic, England has been officially a Protestant nation.

In his personal life, Henry was known for his corpulence and for his six wives. He divorced the first, Catherine of Aragon. He beheaded the second, Anne Boleyn, for allegedly being unfaithful to him. His third wife, Jane Seymour, died soon after giving birth to a son. He divorced his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, and beheaded his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, also for alleged infidelity. His sixth wife, Catherine Parr, survived him. He also had his close friend and adviser Thomas More executed because More would not support Henry’s declaration that he was head of the church in England. Henry was the father of King Edward VI and of Queen Elizabeth I, as well as Mary I.

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