One of England's strongest and least popular monarchs was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. - He was born at Greenwich on June 28, 1491. The first ruler to be educated under the influence of the Renaissance, he was a gifted scholar, linguist, composer, and musician.- He was gay and handsome, skilled in all manner of athletic games as a youth, but in later life he became fat.- In 1502, when his elder brother, Arthur, died, he became heir apparent.- Soon after he succeeded his father on the throne, he married Arthur's young widow, Catherine of Aragon.
During the first twenty years of his reign he left the shaping of policies largely in the hands of his great counselor, Cardinal Wolsey.- Henry had made up his mind to get rid of his wife. -The only one of Catherine's six who survived infancy was a sickly girl, the princess Mary, and it was doubtful whether a woman could succeed to the English throne.-
Then too, Henry had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn, a lady of the court.
When pope Clement VII would not annul his marriage, Henry deprived Wolsey of his office of chancellor and had him arrested on a charge of treason.- He then obtained a divorce through Thomas Cranmer, whom he had made archbishop of Canterbury, and it was soon announced that he had married Anne Boleyn. Thus the pope was defied and all ties that bound the English church to Rome were broken.- Appeals to the pope's court were forbidden, all payments to Rome
were stopped, and the pope's authority in England was abolished.- The Act of Supremacy in 1534 declared Henry to be Supreme Head of the Church of England, and anyone who denied this title was guilty of an act of...