Famous Rulers in History English King Henry VIII Part 4

About the famous English King Henry VIII, history and biograph of his rule and time as leader.

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History

HENRY VIII

Meanwhile, Henry, with Thomas Wolsey, was engaging in foreign affairs--a long border war with Scotland, a love-hate alliance with France, jockeyings for power with the pope and the Holy Roman Empire. In 1511 the pope formed the Holy League with Spain and Venice, mainly to oust France from Italy; he sent Henry a golden rose and 100 Parmesan cheeses with an invitation to join the league which Henry accepted. In 1512 Henry, with Spain, went to war against France, in a campaign that was largely unsuccessful. In 1513 a far more significant victory took place in England, when the 70-year-old Earl of Surrey in a three-hour battle at Flodden put down an invasion of 10,000 Scots.

A year later, a historic meeting between Francis I of France and Henry took place on the Field of Cloth of Gold near Calais. It was a magnificent 17-day festival of alliance with palaces and pavilions, and wine flowing in the fountains. The two monarchs, to celebrate their truce, wrestled and jousted together. The results were not lasting. By 1523 England had joined the Empire in another war against France, in another invasion which ended in failure. By this time, the financial drain of war was beginning to tell on the English people.

Two years later, Charles V defeated France at Pavia and took the French king prisoner. Henry was delighted; typically blunt and graceless, he told the messenger who brought the news, "My friend, you are like Saint Gabriel, who announced the coming of Christ." His joy was dampened when Charles wouldn't divide the spoils, and so he set up another alliance with France.

Meanwhile, in 1529, Thomas More replaced Wolsey as minister. A writer and scholar with a subtle mind, he did not last long, quitting the job three years later when the English convocation approved the submission of churchmen to the State. Thomas Cromwell then took over the position. The son of a blacksmith, he had a genius for administration, and during his eight-year tenure (which ended with the loss of his head), he oversaw the parliamentary legislation which separated the Church in England from the authority of Rome. By 1534 Henry was supreme ruler of England, sovereign over both Church and State, and all in the realm were forced to take an oath to the Act of Succession, which made it a capital crime to question the validity of the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn or the legitimacy of their children. Thomas More, along with Bishop Fisher of Rochester, refused to take the oath. They both were executed.

Two years later, the monasteries were taken over by the State. The people began to rebel against the religious changes and economic deprivation. The Pilgrimage of Grace, led by Robert Aske, was a peaceful protest, but the king refused to see it that way. In one village alone, 70 peasants were hanged from trees in their gardens, and Aske and other leaders were killed.

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