The Influenced and Influential King Henry VIII Kristen Griego Red Rocks Community College The Influenced and Influential King Henry VIII King Henry VIII was a very complicated man. He led a life of greatness in many different aspects. He loved to live an elaborate life, sometimes to the extent that he couldn’t afford. Starting from a young boy he excelled in athletics and thoroughly enjoyed them; horseback riding, archery, and jousting. Henry or, as he was sometimes called, Harry also had many influential people in his life throughout his rule in England. Some of the key players were Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell.
Both of these people used manipulation of Henry to further their own agendas. King Henry VIII was married at a young age to Catherine of Aragon. She was formerly his brother’s wife. Catherine was from Spain and was a devout Catholic, as was King Henry. She was a good woman and Henry was in love with her. Catherine was older than Henry, and while married produced one daughter for him. They named her Mary. After Mary was born Catherine was unable to produce more children for Henry, due to menopause. Once Henry heard of this he was very upset. Henry longed for a son as heir to his kingdom.
This is where Anne Boleyn enters the scene. Although it is debatable as to if these descriptions are credible, Anne Boleyn was said to have had “seductive eyes which she knew well how to exploit, sometimes holding them in reserve, sometimes sending them on message, carrying the secret witness of the heart” (Anne Boleyn, pg. 19). Another description of Anne is “Madam Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised….. her eyes were black and beautiful” (Boleyn, pg. 19).
She was also described as more eloquent and graceful than King Henry’s first mistress, Elizabeth Blount. Some other descriptions of Anne were not as kind as these. Above all, King Henry became deeply infatuated with her. During Anne’s adolescence she was sent away to study. First she served under the Archduchess Margaret of Austria. Margaret loved Anne and thought she was a “bright and pleasant” (Boleyn, pg. 6) young lady. In Margaret’s court Anne was introduced to art; paintings and music. Less than a year later, Anne joined the household of Queen Claude wife of Francis I, King of France.
Here she mastered French, learned to play the lute and sing and dance. All of these attributes she acquired might have been the reason for King Henry’s deep want for her. It is unclear who brought Anne to King Henry’s court. The history about this is unknown. Anne’s father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, was a prominent courtier-administrator at the court and in King Henry’s government. One theory is that Thomas brought Anne to court to ‘catch’ the eye of the King. If Anne could marry the King and produce a male heir, the Boleyn family would be monetarily set for life.
While Anne was a lady for Catherine, the queen of England, King Henry asked her to become his mistress. Time and time again she shot him down. This furthered his obsession with her. He wrote her love letters and showered her with gifts. They wrote each other for a year and within this time Anne fell for Henry. King Henry pled his love to Anne and offered that she be his sole mistress, which was quite unheard of in these days. Although Anne gave into Henry’s advances, she wanted to wait to give him her body. There is much speculation on this subject as well.
Many say that Henry would not wait for her and she did fully give in to him. We will never truly know. There is speculation that Anne wanted Henry to divorce Catherine but there is nothing to determine if this is true. It could have come from Henry because of his deep want for a male heir. Theoretically, if Anne wanted the divorce she would have had to manipulatively influence the King to do so. She could have done this by withholding her body from him knowing how much he wanted her. History hasn’t changed much from this time. Many women withhold or use sex to achieve what they want from a man.
Either way, King Henry wanted to annul his marriage to Catherine. In Catholicism there is no divorce so Henry had to come up with another plan, with the help of Wolsey of course. Henry sent his secretary William Knight to the Pope to get permission for him to marry again, as if it were his first, if his marriage to Catherine was annulled. Permission was granted after a few months yet during this waiting period many rumors has started. Everyone had figured out that King Henry had intentions to remarry. When this happened Henry’s close advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, had to go to the Pope to explain.
He told the Pope that the King’s intention was not to dishonor the queen and not for his personal want of a male heir but was out of his vain affection for a woman who had many good qualities. Wolsey made Anne look like a saint. Was this said to make the King look better before the Pope? The Pope would have known of Henry’s ill intentions from these remarks. Wolsey would have liked the King to remarry another princess and secure stronger relations with another kingdom. There is speculation that Anne disliked Wolsey and tried at times to get the King to execute him but there is no fact of this.
Just because there is no documentation of Anne’s dislike for Wolsey does not mean it isn’t true. The picture I get of Anne is one of a highly intelligent, cunning, and sometime deceitful woman with her best intentions at heart. If Wolsey was not able to get the allowance of the Pope for an annulment he would be a fault in Anne’s eyes. I don’t believe that Anne only wanted riches for herself. The marriage was also intended to keep her family safe and to uphold the social stature that her father had worked so hard to achieve.
So, even though there is no proof of her directly influencing Henry for her own benefit, there is reason to believe that it did happen. Nevertheless, Henry began to doubt Cardinal Wolsey’s loyalty to him. The outcome of the marriage annulment was not in the King’s favor. Instead it was denied which outraged the King. In turn, Henry broke with the Catholic Church at the suggestion of Thomas Cromwell and started the Church of England. He appointed himself as head of the Church. Henry VIII was the first King in history to do such a thing; he was the head of his monarchy as well as its Church.
The Church of England was a mixture of Catholic and Protestant beliefs which was also influenced by Thomas Cromwell, who was Protestant himself. This angered many people. Henry made his people to agree to the ruling of his new Church and if they did not, they were killed. One person who lost his life was Henry’s advisor when he was a young king. King Henry VIII was now able to marry Anne Boleyn since in his eyes he was divorced from Catherine of Aragon. Anne was influential in Henry’s rulings but not as much as Thomas Cromwell.
He was able to find fault with Anne and influence the King’s thinking of her. Thomas Cromwell was a man who worked under Cardinal Wolsey, and once Wolsey died, was appointed as Henry’s chief advisor. Little did Cromwell know his life would eventually end at the Kings command. Thomas Cromwell had his own selfish intentions when it came to the King. He was, like Wolsey, a very greedy man. Cromwell was disliked by many. He helped the King strip all the monasteries in the land to gain more money for King Henry. Cromwell also knew that the King was tiring of Anne’s antics.
When he was told of Anne’s infidelity with men, one of whom was her brother, he brought it to the King’s attention. Anne was found guilty and beheaded. The King was not bothered by this because he was already in love with another woman, Jane Seymour. Jane was Henry’s true love. He adored her even more when she bore him a male heir, Edward. After childbirth Jane fell sick and died. The King was very upset and was also able to marry once more. Thomas Cromwell searched for a suitable new queen for Henry. Cromwell found him Anne of Cleves. Henry ordered a painting of her.
Cromwell instructed the painter to bring out her best features as much as possible since Anne was not a very pretty girl. The painting brought to Henry pleased him so he agreed to the marriage. When Henry saw Anne for the first time he was appalled. Knowing that Thomas Cromwell was behind the marriage, King Henry ordered Cromwell to death. The King stated that Cromwell obviously did not have his best interest at heart. King Henry VIII was a very influential man. He influenced his people to accept Anne Boleyn as their Queen and also abide by the Church of England.
Many secretly didn’t agree with Henry, including his own daughter Mary who was a devout Catholic like her mother Catherine. If a person was to not agree or show their admiration for Henry’s decisions, they were killed. This sounds like a dictatorship to me. Henry was a very harsh ruler which some claim is due to his marriage to Anne Boleyn. I believe that Henry knew that breaking with Rome was not the right thing to do. He did it to get what he wanted; an annulment from Catherine and a marriage to Anne Boleyn. It is very sad that a Church and religion was started on such and untruthful basis; essentially a lie.
It is sadder that it is still followed today! Henry’s life was full of ups and downs yet he followed what he always wanted. He was a selfish and cruel ruler. His last wife was even afraid to marry him because she might be beheaded. Henry executed two of his wives. It’s sad that so many people had to die because of his beliefs and influences. One lesion I can take away from King Henry’s life is to not be greedy and selfish. Maybe Jane, the love of his life, was taken from him because of all the chaos and hurt he had caused others by reforming the Church and marrying Anne Boleyn.
He also had many problems producing a male heir. Edward was finally born but didn’t live long. He died at age nine. Henry is the most famous King of England and we can see why. He did things that no other King had done before. From the reformation of the Catholic Church to beheading his wives; he did as he pleased. Even though Henry did some awful things I believe he knew all along that they were wrong. It’s interesting to think, if Anne Boleyn never existed would Henry have created the Church of England? Probably not.
On the other hand, if it wasn’t Anne it would have been another woman. So, the Church of England probably would have come to be either way. Thank God for Henry and his most interesting and grand life. Without it we wouldn’t have such wonderful material to speculate over!!!
References G. W. Bernard, A. A. (2010) Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions. New Haven and London: Yale University Press Author not found. Thomas, Cardinal Wolsey. Retreived www. britianexpress. com/History/Tudor/wolsey. htm Chris Trueman. Thomas Cromwell. Retreived www. historylearningsite. co. uk/thomascromwell. htm