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King Henry VIII of England, is one of the most famous and infamous rulers in history. In his relentless quest to provide a suitable heir to the throne, he married and disposed of six wive, two of which were beheaded, a fact which still amazes us today.
Henry was born in 1491 at Greenwich Palace and spent much of his early life there. He was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. As a young man, he was tall, considered handsome and popular with the people. He fancied himself an athlete and participated in wrestling, horse racing and stag hunting. Gambling was a major part of court life during Henry's time. Throughout his life he loved music and was said to have composed songs and hymns, including the song Greensleeves, which we still sing today.
Henry was crowned King in the year 1509, after the death of his elder brother and the death of his father.
Catherine of Aragon (Divorced) was the first of Henry's wives and the longest. Their union lasted 24 years. At first, Henry appeared devoted to her, but after miscarriages and several dead infants, Henry sought another bride.
Anne Boleyn (Beheaded) was the second wife. Their three year marriage produced two sons and one daughter who would later become another famous personage, Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Henry claimed trumped up charges against Anne and several men (including her own brother). He accused the men of being intimate with the Queen. Henry had the marriage dissolved and Anne lost her head.
Jane Seymour (Died) was next to marry Henry. She passed away giving birth to a much-anticipated son.
Anne of Cleves (Divorced) married the King next. However, their union was short-lived and they divorced in less than six months.
Katheryn Howard (Beheaded) was Henry's fifth wife and a cousin of Anne Boleyn. Henry was thirty years older than his spouse. As fate would have it, the cousins shared the same unfortunate fate. Henry believed his wife unfaithful and had her beheaded.
Katherine Parr (Survived) was the last wife of Henry VIII. Their marriage was still intact at his death.
Henry VIII is thought to have had three mistresses. He is believed to be the only British monarch to have more wives than mistresses. By the time of his final marriage, Henry was no longer the slim, youthful athlete. Living an indulgent life, he was plagued with illness and suffering from excessive food and drink. He also suffered from debilitating gout and was seriously overweight. Henry died in 1547.