Moonday’s Villain: Henry VIII

Henry in his Prime

Henry in his Prime

King Henry VIII of England is our villain this Moonday because of his role in the dissolution of the monasteries. Henry was desperate for a male heir which his Catholic Queen Catherine of Aragon did not give him. He convinced himself that he was cursed by god for marrying his brother’s widow. Catherine claimed that the marriage had not been consummated and that Henry knew that. It didn’t really matter, though, Henry’s wandering eye had landed on Anne Boleyn who refused to be his mistress, demanding a crown instead.

Queen Catherine, Spanish and Catholic, had the power of the Papacy behind her. There would be no dispensation from the Pope to divorce Queen Catherine to marry Anne. Henry declared war on the Catholic Church in England. In 1530 the Abbot of Whitby wrote: “The King’s Grace is ruled by one common stewed whore, Anne Boleyn, who makes all the spirituality to be beggared, and the temporality also.” The English people preferred Queen Katherine and called Anne “The Great Whore.”

Henry and Anne married on  25 January 1533. It was not until May of that year that Thomas Cranmer granted Henry and Catherine’s divorce. Five days later, Cranmer declared Henry and Anne’s secret marriage valid. The Pope excommunicated Henry who assumed leadership of the Church in England. Unlike his miserly father, Henry had spent money liberally. Henry dissolved the Churches and monasteries, kept most of the assets himself, and granted properties to his supporters.

Next week, Another Tudor Villain.  Rita Bay

Moonday’s Heroic Hunks: Elizabeth’s Men – the European Princes

King Philip II of Spain

Prior to her accession to the throne of England, Elizabeth Tudor had lived a precarious existence.  Her mother, Queen Anne Boleyn, had been beheaded when Elizabeth was only three.  Henry VIII, her father, had divorced two of his other queens and beheaded Queen Katherine Howard, Elizabeth’s own cousin.  She had been implicated in Thomas Seymour’s attempts to seize power which ended in his execution and waT sent to the Tower by her sister Queen Mary for her association with the Dudley/Lady Jane Grey treason.

Before and after Queen Elizabeth refused Robert Dudley’s (the love of her life) marriage proposal, she used her availability for marriage as a political tool.  Everyone-English and European alike-assumed that Elizabeth would be anxious to marry.  Elizabeth, however, once wrote: “Better beggar woman and single than Queen and married.” While Elizabeth’s councilors plotted and fretted, only Robert Dudley who knew her heart believed her.  He knew she would never willingly grant power over her and control of her England to any man.

King Eric of Sweden

In 1559, King Philip of Spain, the widower of Elizabeth’s sister Mary, was the first to send a proposal her way.  He wished to keep England Catholic and Elizabeth out of bed with the Protestant rulers of Europe.  Elizabeth strung him along, first hot and then cold, for more than a year–to the frustration and aggravation of two Spanish ambassadors.  Their communications to their Spanish master provide insight into the complicated machinations of the English Court.

Another of Elizabeth’s suitors, King Eric of Sweden, a fellow Protestant, was seriously considered by Elizabeth’s ministers. His suit was popular in the England but Eric was far from a wealthy monarch, and marriage to him would have brought England little financial benefit or provided a strong alliance.  Despite his fervent letters attesting to his devotion, Eric was eventually refused also.  Good thing, King Eric was deposed in 1568 and poisoned with arsenic-laced pea soup in 1577.

Henry II of France

When the Archduke Charles of Austria proved to be too Catholic for her., Elizabeth looked to the Valois of France, still Catholic but not so much.  Henry, Duke of Anjou, and Francis, Duke of Alencon and (later) Anjou, were the sons of Catherine d’Medici.  Henry who was reputed to be homo- or bisexual was rejected after his comments referring to her as a “public whore” and ridiculing her age (37) were reported Elizabeth.  Elizabeth appeared to genuinely have some affection for Francis, her “frog,”  even though he was 24 and she was 46 when he visited her. (She actually wore an earring in the shape of a frog for several years.”)  Elizabeth, fearing her people would not accept a French overlord, sent him on his way.  Anjou, the last of Elizabeth’s suitors died two years later.

Francis, Duke of Alencon

 Several other foreign suitors, including the Duke of Saxony, Earl of Arran, and the Duke of Holstein were proposed but not seriously considered.  Next Moonday, Elizabeth’s English suitors and the succession.  Rita Bay

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History: Henry VIII Tudor & Anne Boleyn

Henry in his Prime

 
     King Henry VIII Tudor during the Anne Boleyn years is Moonday’s Heroic Hunk in History. Henry quickly became infatuated with Anne when she returned to Court from France and was named Lady in Waiting to the Queen (Have we heard this story before?). Unlike her naughty sister Mary, Anne was reported by the Archduchess Margaret of Austria to be “presentable and so pleasant.” Having royal mistresses Bessie Blount and her sister Mary who had been cast off with little provision as models, Anne determined that the same fate would not be hers.
     Anne played hard to get for about five years until she convinced Henry to obtain an annulment to marry her, even if it meant a break with the Roman Catholic Church. Although Henry had been awarded the title “Defender of the Faith” by Pope Leo X for writing the Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (“In Defense of the Seven Sacraments”) in response to a treatise by Martin Luther, separation from the Catholic Church had several benefits.
     Henry and Anne married on 25 January 1533. It was not until May of that year that Cranmer granted Henry and Catherine’s divorce. Katherine steadfastly denied that she had ever consummated her marriage to Arthur, and asserted that Henry “knew the truth of it.” Five days later, Cranmer declared Henry and Anne’s secret marriage valid. The Pope excommunicated Henry who assumed leadership of the Church in England. Unlike his miserly father, Henry had spent money liberally. Henry dissolved the Churches and monasteries, kept most of the assets himself, and granted properties to his supporters. In 1530 the Abbot of Whitby wrote: “The King’s Grace is ruled by one common stewed whore, Anne Boleyn, who makes all the spirituality to be beggared, and the temporality also.” The English people preferred Queen Katherine and called Anne “The Great Whore.”
     Anne was crowned Queen of England in June, 1533. On 7 September, she gave birth to the Princess Elizabeth (Unfortunately for her, another daughter for Henry). After three miscarriages by 1536, Henry—despairing of having a son by Anne—began courting Jane Seymour. (Made even easier by Katherine’s convenient death.)
     On 2 May of 1536, Anne was arrested for treason and sent to the Tower of London, where she was tried before a jury and found guilty on 15 May. Her crime? She was charged with adultery, treason (that’s adultery when your husband is the King), and incest with her brother George. Her real crime? Failure to deliver a healthy son for Henry and pissing off Thomas Cranmer over government policy. One of the men confessed under torture while the others proclaimed their innocence until their execution. Multiple inconsistencies in the trial that supported Anne’s innocence were ignored.
     Anne was exhausted—almost ready to die. She wrote shortly before her execution: “O Death, rock me asleep, bring me to quiet rest, let pass my weary guiltless ghost out of my careful breast.” On May 19th, Anne was beheaded on Tower Green with a sword—the King had graciously allowed beheading instead of burning at the stake which was the actual penalty. Anthony Kingston, the Tower Constable, quoted Anne on the morning of her death, “I hear I shall not die afore noon, and I am very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time and past my pain.’ I told her it should be no pain, it was so little. And then she said, ‘I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little neck.’” Her body lay where it fell until a worker placed her head and body in an arrow chest and buried her in St. Peter ad Vinicula in an unmarked grave. Anne was one of England’s most influential Queens but her daughter Elizabeth would become one of England’s greatest monarchs.   Compare the portraits of the real Tudors with the pics of Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Henry VIII and Natalie Dormer from the Tudors. Next week, more Tudors. RitaVF
%d bloggers like this: