The Six Wives Of King Henry VIII

By | January 25, 2020

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived: A morbid rhyme indeed, but useful if you want to keep up with the lives and fates of the six wives of Henry VIII. While his reign was not generally viewed as extraordinary, the lasting legacy of England's King Henry VIII is undoubtedly the founding of the Church of England and the gruesome (not to mention juicy) story of its origin.

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Portrait of King Henry VIII (1491-1547). (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Catherine Of Aragon

A few years after King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain sent some guy named Columbus to sail the ocean blue, they decided their next big move should be strengthening ties with the Tudors of England. Naturally, this meant arranging the marriage of their youngest daughter, Catherine, to the eldest Royal Prince of England, Arthur. However, it would be a short marriage, as the 15-year-old prince died five months after their wedding. (Just a heads-up: Death is a common theme in this story.) Unwilling to let go of the dowry, King Henry VII urged the marriage of Catherine to the new heir to the throne, little Prince Henry. It was a typical royal marriage to secure wealth and power. What could go wrong? 

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Catherine of Aragon, early 18th century, NPG 163.

Tragically, the marriage of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII was plagued by a series of miscarriages and stillbirths that left England without a legitimate male heir. While Catherine's fifth pregnancy resulted in a healthy daughter, Mary I (A.K.A. Bloody Mary), England had never had a proper queen regent, so King Henry VIII didn't take Mary seriously as a future leader. By English law, the line of succession favored male children until 2013, when the law was changed to disregard sex. (Yes, it took until 2013 to change that law.) Henry wanted a son.