The Young King

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The Young King

Henry, Prince of Wales was barely eighteen when he became King of England. The crown passed peacefully from his father, Henry VII to him. In fact he had never known instability, and was very young when the Cornish Rebellion had taken place.

He was educated under the auspicious direction of his grandmother until, upon the death of his brother, Arthur, he became heir to the throne. After this point he was under the supervision of his father.

He was a handsome youth, many contemporary sources mention this. He had a strong physique, and a keen interest in almost all sports - wrestling, tennis, riding, and so on.

He liked to think of himself as a bit of an intellectual. He would flatter himself by spending much time in the company of great scholars, giving them royal patronage for their work (often in return for ego-boosting praise).

Catherine of Aragon

He was married to Catherine of Aragon in a marriage which was arranged in 1502. She was the widow of his brother. The two were able to marry with a dispensation from the Pope, on the basis that the marriage between Catherine and Arthur had not been consummated. Catherine made Henry happy. He relied on her political expertise in a number of situations. She ruled as governor for him when he went away to fight campaigns in France.

There is evidence that points to Henry taking firm control over some issues from very early on in his reign - especially in the sphere of foreign policy, but there is strong evidence to suggest that much of his government before 1529 was done by advisors, while he busied himself in other matters (like hunting and merry-making).

One of the first measures that was taken was the execution of his father's 'debt collectors', Epsom and Dudley. While some historians believe this to be the work of dissatisfied nobles within the household, it could be interpreted as Henry making his mark as a just King.

There is little dispute that Henry found the day - to - day routine of government very tedious. He was not an administrator like his father. This part of the job he left to councillors. Increasingly, it became the responsibility of one particular councillor, Thomas Wolsey.

Thomas Wolsey

Henry sought glory and honour in war. By April 1512 he had declared war on France and he had increased the number of vessels that the navy had. He added extra 3 000 men to the navy.

The young as well as the older Henry loved the pomp and ceremony of court. He strongly believed that the role of the court was to impress, in a way that the household of no nobleman could. He spent enormous amounts of money on his court. He took a real pleasure in joining in the pageantry himself, jousting and dancing.

1491 Henry born, the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.
1502 Death of Henry's elder brother, Arthur, Henry becomes heir to the throne. Betrothed to Catherine of Aragon (Arthur's widow)
1509 Henry becomes King and marries Catherine of Aragon.
1511 Henry joins the Holy League alliance against France.
1513 Defeat of the French at the Battle of the Spurs. Scots defeated at the Battle of Flodden.
1514 Wolsey becomes chief minister, cardinal and then Lord Chancellor.
1516 Mary born.
1518 Peace of London (Wolsey)
1520 Field of the Cloth of Gold (peace with France). Also makes peace with Charles V.
1521 Execution of Stafford. Henry writes a tract against Luther - the pope awards him the title of 'Defender Of the Faith'
1522 Anne Boleyn at court.
1523 Siege of Boulogne (not successful).
1525 Amicable Grant. Wolsey humiliated. Wolsey becomes cardinal to Pope Leo X.
1526 Arrival of Holbein.
1527 Henry is refused a divorce by the pope (who is now under extreme pressure from Charles V).
1528 War declared on Charles V
1529 Legatine court at Blackfriars considers the divorce case. Henry summoned to Rome. He does not go. Fall of Wolsey. Thomas More becomes Lord Chancellor. First session of the Reformation parliament. Simon Fish writes "Supplication for the Beggars".
1530 Oxford and Cambridge find in favour of the divorce. Clergy accused of praemunire.
1531 Pardon for the clergy. Convocation of Canterbury recognise Henry as the Supreme Head of the English Church.
1532 Submission of the clergy More resigns as chancellor. Thomas Cromwell becomes the King's chief minister. Anne Boleyn becomes Marchioness of Pembroke. She becomes pregnant. Henry and Francis I meet at Boulogne. A Glass of Truth published.
1533 Secret marriage of Anne and Henry by Thomas Cranmer (recently appointed Archbishop of Canterbury). Princess Elizabeth born. Truce between England and Scotland.
1534 Act of Supremacy; Succession Act; Treason Act; Act for Submission of the Clergy. Cromwell appointed Principal Secretary. Revolt in Ireland.
1535 The bishops reject papal authority. Executions of Thomas More and John Fisher for refusing the Act of Supremacy. Valor Ecclesiasticus compiled under the direction of Cromwell (now Vicar - General). Publication of the Coverdale Bible (first complete English translation).
1536 Dissolution of the Lesser monasteries begins. Death of Catherine of Aragon. Anne accused of incest and multiple adultery. Executed in May. Henry marries Jane Seymour. Last session of Reformation Parliament. Cromwell appointed Lord of the Privy Seal. Pilgrimage of Grace.
1537 Birth of Edward. Jane Seymour dies in childbirth. Rebel leaders of Pilgrimage of Grace executed.
1538 Destruction of shrines. Royal injunctions to the clergy.
1539 Six Articles Act. Act for dissolution of the larger monasteries. The country prepares for an invasion by the French or the Scottish. Cromwell starts negotiations with German princes (including a marriage treaty).
1540 Marriage of Anne of Cleves. Invasion fears subside. Cleves marriage annulled. Cromwell created Earl of Essex. Cromwell executed. Rise of the conservative faction led by Thomas Howard. Henry marries Catherine Howard. Last monastery suppressed.
1541 Catholic conspiracy to raise the north fails. Henry is crowned King of Ireland.
1542 Catherine Howard beheaded on charges of adultery. War and defeat in Scotland (Haddon Rig). Then victory at Solway Moss. 'Great Debasement' of the coinage begins.
1543 Henry allies with Charles V against France. Treaty of Greenwich, engagement of Edward and Mary Queen of Scots. Later Abandoned by the Scots. Henry marries Catherine Parr.
1544 Invasions of Scotland and France. Henry captures Boulogne. Third Succession Act places Mary and Elizabeth in line for the throne. Charles V seeks peace with France; Henry is forced to do the same.
1545 Anglo-French battles at Boulogne and naval engagements off the south coast. Sinking of the Mary Rose.
1546 Peace with France. Fall of the Howards. Henry becomes increasingly ill. Anne Askew burnt for denying transubstantiation.
1547 Execution of Surrey (son of the Duke of Norfolk). Death of Henry.