Famous Rulers in History English King Henry VIII Part 5

About the famous English King Henry VIII, history and biograph of his rule and time as leader, little-known facts

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History

HENRY VIII

A war with Scotland which began in 1542 ended in the defeat of the Scots at Solway Moss, and in that same year Henry again went to war with France. The results were the capture of Boulogne and a huge debt; the war cost England more than pound 2 million. To cover it, Henry sold off monastic lands, bled the people dry with taxes, and debased the currency.

In retrospect, the greatest accomplishments of Henry's reign were the relatively bloodless transition to Protestantism, the decentralization of government in which Parliament became more powerful and representative of the people, and the strengthening and modernization of the British navy.

On the other hand, when Henry died, the country was in a bad state economically; the zooming inflation rate resulting from government spending and debasement of the currency left the workers worse off when his reign ended than when it began. Religious institutions like hospitals and almshouses, destroyed when the monasteries were dissolved, were not replaced, so the ill and poor often had no place to go. The reign was bloody in terms of the executions Henry personally ordered: two queens, three ministers, numerous members of the nobility (including 70-year-old Lady Margaret Pole), and hundreds of religious dissenters. Henry also might have done better spending the government's money in explorations of the Americas and Asia than in waging fruitless wars with France.

Little-Known Facts: Henry VIII was a tennis player. One of his additions to Hampton Court was a tennis court with 12 wire-netted windows.

He was also a fine musician and an accomplished composer. He wrote at least two motets and two masses and was probably the author of "Greensleeves."

This man who shocked the world with his love affairs was very likely sexually timid as a young man and a rather poor lover throughout his life.

Before his marital difficulties. Henry was very religious. He sometimes attended three masses a day. Early in his reign he wrote a book rebutting the views of Martin Luther. Called Assertions of the Seven Sacraments, it was a polemical work, containing such statements as: "The insipid water of concupiscence is turned by the hidden grace of God into wine of the finest flavors. Whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (He may have regretted this statement when seeking his divorce.) He also stated that the pope was "Christ's only vicar" and vilified Luther with purple prose: "What a great limb of the Devil he is, endeavoring to tear the Christian members of Christ from their head." Luther responded by calling Henry a "lubberly ass" and "frantic madman...that King of Lies, King Heinz, by God's disgrace King of England...."

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