Category Archives: Henry VIII

On this day in 1521 – Pope Leo X received a copy of Henry VIII’s The Defence of the Seven Sacraments

The Defence of the Seven Sacraments also known as Assertio Septem Sacramentorum was a theological treatise written in 1521 and was officially attributed to King Henry VIII. Henry began writing it in 1519 whilst he was reading Martin Luther’s attack on indulgences and denounced the Papal system. By June 1519 Henry had shown his work to Cardinal Wolsey, Wolsey would be the only to read it for the next three years.

The original manuscript would become the first two chapters of Assertio Septem Sacramentorum with the rest of the treatise being made up of new material that related to Luther’s De Captivitate Babylonica, many believe that Sir Thomas More was involved in the working of this piece.

Henry ended his treatise by saying to readers that they should not be influenced by the likes of Luther and other heretics. He wrote;

Do not listen to the Insults and Detractions against the Vicar of Christ which the Fury of the little Monk spews up against the Pope; nor contaminate Breasts sacred to Christ with impious Heresies, for if one sews these he has no Charity, swells with vain Glory, loses his Reason, and burns with Envy. Finally with what Feelings they would stand together against the Turks, against the Saracens, against anything Infidel anywhere, with the same Feelings they should stand together against this one little Monk weak in Strength, but in Temper more harmful than all Turks, all Saracens, all Infidels anywhere.”

Henry dedicated the treatise to Pope Leo X who received a copy on 2nd October 1521 who upon reading it rewarded Henry with the title of Fidei Defensor – Defender of the Faith on 11th October. Although the title was officially revoked following Henry’s break with Rome and the Catholic Church.

There has been some debate whether Henry did indeed write the book himself or whether it was written by someone such as Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More or Bishop Fisher and it was published under the King’s name in order to give it more substance.

Rare books  collection, photos for a book about the collection. Assertio Septem Sacramentorum Aduerfus Mart. Lutherum Henrico VIII Angliae Rege auctore 1562 In latin but featuring inserted hebrew on some pages.


On this day in 1541 – King Henry VIII and Catherine Howard arrived in York on royal progress

In 1541 King Henry VIII set of on royal progress to the north of England with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. On 16th September 1541 Henry and his travelling court entered the city of York through Walmgate Bar where they were met by the mayor and aldermen of the city who would beg forgiveness from the King for the Pilgrimage of Grace, when the north rebelled against the King in 1536. The King and his wife were then presented with a gold cup that were both filled with gold coins as a token of welcome.

The royal progress was normally a grand affair and this one was no different Henry had not long been married to his young bride and wanted to show to the country that the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves was not his fault. The progress made many stops on their way to York after leaving London on 30th June. They arrived in Lincoln on 9th August and visiting Pontefract on 23rd August before arriving in York on 16th September via Cawood, Wressle, Leconfield and Hull. Henry had also arranged to meet King James V of Scotland at York to discuss the prospect of peace between the two countries. However, King James did not show to the meeting.
Chronicler Edward Hall wrote about King Henry’s progress of 1541;

This Sommer the Kyng kepte his progresse to Yorke, and passed through Lyncolne Shire, where was made to hym an humble submission by he temporaltie, confessing their offence, and thankyngthe kyng for his pardon: and the Toune of Staunforde gaue the Kynd twentie pounde, and Lyncolne presented fourtie pounde, & Boston fiftie pound that parte whiche is called Lynsey gaue three hundred pounde, and Kestren and the Churche of Lyncolne gaue fifte pounde. And when he entered into Yorke Shire, he was met with two hundred gentlemen of the same Shire in coates of Veluet, and foure thousande tall yornen, and seruyng men, well horsed: whiche on their knees made a submission, by the mouthe of sir Robert Bowes, and gaue to the Kyng nyne hundred pounde. And on Barnesdale met the Kyng, the Archebishoppe of Yorke, with three hundred Priestes and more, and made a like submission, and gaue the kyng sixe hundred pounde. Like submission was made by the Maior of Yorke, Newe Castle and Hull, and eche of theim gaue to the Kynd an hundred pounde. When the Kyng had been at York twelue daies, he came to Hull, and deuised there certain fortificacions, and passed ouer the water of Homber, and so through Lyncolne Shire, and at Halontidee came to Hampton Court.”

It was also on this royal progress that Catherine Howard had become involved with Thomas Culpepper, an affair that was discovered shortly after their return to London and seal the young Queen’s fate.

Catherine Howard portrait Henry Hans Holbein 1537

On this day in 1540 – Henry VIII and Catherine Howard were married

On the 28th July 1540 as his former Lord Privy Seal and Principal Secretary Thomas Cromwell was being executed King Henry VIII was marrying his fifth wife, Catherine Howard.

Catherine Howard was the maid of Henry’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves and was approximately 20 years old when she married the aged King who was fast approaching 50.

The couple were desperate to marry as Henry believed that his new bride to be was pregnant and Henry wanted any new children to be legitimate as although he had Prince Edward as well as the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth Henry still wished for another son. Henry knew all too well how important it was to have a second son, as he himself was not initially the heir to the throne until his elder brother Arthur died at the age of 15.

Henry and Catherine married in a private ceremony at Oatlands Palace, Surrey and it was conducted by Bishop Bonner. The marriage was days after Henry’s annulment to Anne of Cleves and this marriage was kept secret for ten days. Catherine appeared for the first time as Queen Consort on 8th August 1540 at Hampton Court Palace before the newlyweds headed to Windsor for a short honeymoon.

Henry’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was so expensive and expected to last the royal treasury was depleted and so there was no money available for Henry to give Catherine either a marriage feast or a coronation. However, just less than a year later the marriage was over after Henry had been informed that Catherine had been unfaithful and not only that she was not as innocent as believed as she had relationships with men before her marriage to the King.

Henry was devasted that his new bride was not what she seemed and ordered her execution; she was beheaded at the Tower of London on 13th February 1542.

Catherine HowardCatherine Howard, King Henry VIII’s fifth wife

On this day in 1543 – Henry VIII married Katherine Parr

On 12th July 1543 King Henry VIII married his sixth and final wife, Katherine Parr at Hampton Court Palace. The ceremony was a private matter that took place in the Queen’s Closet within the Chapel Royal.

As a private ceremony approximately 20 people attended this included the King’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, Margaret Douglas, Henry niece, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, Viscountess Lisle, Countess of Hertford as well as Katherine’s sister and her husband, Anne and William Herbert.

The ceremony was presided over by Bishop Stephen Gardiner and following the ceremony was a lavish breakfast where Katherine was proclaimed Queen, the first of Henry’s wives to be proclaimed Queen on her wedding day unlike Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn who had coronations to proclaim their right to be called Queen.

Henry’s principle clerk of a court, Richard Watkins, recorded an official record of the marriage and wrote;

“Notarial instrument witnessing that, on 12 July 1543, 35 Hen. VIII., in an upper oratory called “the Quynes Pruevey closet” within the honour of Hampton Court, Westm. dioc., in presence of the noble and gentle persons named at the foot of this instrument and of me, Ric. Watkins, the King’s prothonotary, the King and lady Katharine Latymer alias Parr being met there for the purpose of solemnising matrimony between them, Stephen bp. Of Winchester proclaimed in English that they were met to join in marriage the said King and Lady Katharine, and if anyone knew any impediment thereto he should declare it. The licence for the marriage without publication of banns, sealed by Thos. abp. Of Canterbury and dated 10 July 1543, being then brought in, and none opposing but all applauding the marriage, the said bp. of Winchester put the questions to which the King, hilari vult, replied “Yea” and the lady Katharine also replied that it was her wish; and then the King taking her right hand, repeated after the Bishop the words, “I, Henry, take thee, Katharine to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us depart, and thereto I plight thee my troth.” Then, releasing and again clasping hands, the lady Katharine likewise said “I, Katharine, take thee Henry to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonayr and buxome in bed and at board, till death us depart, and thereto I plight unto thee my troth.” The putting on of the wedding ring and proffer of gold and silver followed; and the Bishop, after prayer, pronounced a benediction. The King then commanded the prothonotary to make a public instrument of the premises.

Present: John lord Russell, K.G., keeper of the Privy Seal, Sir Ant. Browne, K.G., captain of the King’s pensioners, and Thos. Henage, Edw Seymer, Hen. Knyvet, Ric. Long, Thos. Darcy, Edw. Beynton, and Thos. Speke, knights, and Ant. Denny and Wm. Herbert, esquires, also the ladies Mary and Elizabeth the King’s children, Margaret Douglas his niece, Katharine duchess of Suffolk, Anne countess of Hertford, and Joan lady Dudley and Anne Herbert.”

The week after their wedding the newly married couple set off on their first summer Progress and husband and wife.

Henry and KatherineKing Henry VIII and Katherine Parr

On this day in 1540 – the marriage between King Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves was declared annulled.

On 9th July 1540 King Henry VIII’s fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves was declared null and void. The marriage never got off to the best of starts when Henry first met Anne she did not recognise him and as a result Henry took it as an insult, things got no better from there and the despite going through with the marriage Henry never consummated the union, he was under the belief that Anne was not a virgin and therefore could not be his wife.

Shortly after their marriage Anne was sent to live at Richmond Palace where she was out of the way. During this time Bishop Gardiner had begun investigating the possibility of a pre-contract being in place between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine. On 6th July 1540 a court messenger was sent to Anne to inform her that her new husband was having trouble believing that their marriage was legitimate and wished for her consent for a church investigation. Anne agreed to the investigation, after all she had heard what had happened to Anne Boleyn and she did not want to end up in the Tower of London.

On 7th July a convocation of the clergy was held and they agreed that the marriage was in fact invalid and they put forward three reasons for it the first was the alleged pre-contract between Anne and the Marquis of Lorraine, the second that Henry did not consent to the marriage in the first place and finally the union was not consummated.

With this news Anne was approached by messengers, acting on behalf of the convocation and the King, for her agreement for the marriage to be annulled. It was reported that Anne was so overcome with fright at the outcome that she fainted, after coming around Anne agreed to the annulment and signed herself no longer as Anne the Queen but Anne the daughter of Cleves.

Henry rewarded Anne for her cooperation in the annulment and along with addressing her as his ‘beloved sister’ he also awarded her £4000 per year, along with homes at Richmond and Bletchingley. She also received jewels, furniture and hangings alongside a house in Lewes and Hever Castle, the former home of Anne Boleyn.

Anne and Henry would go on to have a good relationship with Henry taking time to visit and invite Anne to court, which is more that can be said about Thomas Cromwell who lost his head for his part in the marriage negotiations.

Anne_of_Cleves,_by_Hans_Holbein_the_YoungerAnne of Cleves painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.

On this day in 1540 – Thomas Cromwell wrote a second letter to King Henry VIII from the Tower of London

On 30th June 1540 Thomas Cromwell wrote to King Henry VIII from the Tower of London, where he was being held prisoner, asking for mercy. Cromwell was being charged with treason and heresy but also Henry was dissatisfied with Cromwell over the disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves, which Cromwell had arranged.

Thomas Cromwell’s letter was long and detailed in the hope that Henry would show some compassion to his former aide;

Most mercyfull king and most gracious souerayng lorde may hit please the same to be aduetysyd that the laste tyme it pleasyd your bening doodnes, to send unto me the right honourable lorde Chaunceler the Right honourable Duke of Norffoke and the lord admyrall to examine and also to declare to me dyuers things from yowr magestye amongist the which one specyall thing they movyd and theruppon chargyd me as I woolde answer, beffor god at the dredffull daye of Judgement and also upon the extreme daunger and Dampnacyon of my sowlle and consyems to saye what I knew in the marriage and consernyng the marriage between your hinges and the queen to the which I answeryd as I knew declaring to them the partyculers as nyghe as I then coulde call to Remembraunce which when they hardde harde they in in your majestees name and upon lyke charge as they hadde gyvyn me before commaundyd me to wrytt to your highness the trewthe as moch as I knew in that matyer, which now I doo, and the veraye trewth as god shall salve me, to the uttermost of my knowlage. Fyrst after your majestye herde of the ladye Anne of Clevys arryvall at dover and that her Jerneyes were appoyntyd towards grenwiche and that She sholde be at Rochester on new yeres evyn at nyght your highness declaryd to me that ye woold pryvelye vysyt her at Rochester upon newyeres daye adding the words to norishe loue, which accordinglye your grace dide upon new yeres daye as is aboyesayd, and the next day being Frydaye your grace reternyd to grenwyche when I spake with your grace and demandyd of your magestye how ye lykyd the layde Anne your highness answeryd as me thought hevelye And not plesantlye nothing so well as She was spokyn of Saying Ferther that yf your highness hadde known asmoche before as ye then knew she shold not hav Commen within this Realme, Saying as by way of lamentacyon what remedye unto the which I answeryd and said I knew none but was veraye Sory therffore and so god knowith I was for I thought hit a harde begynnyng, the next day eater teh reccept of the said ladye and her enterye made into grenwyche and after your highness hadde brought her to her Chamber I then waytyd upon your highness into your pryuey chamber, and being ther your grace Callyd me to yow Saying to me this words or the lyke my lorde is it not as I told yow say what they will she is nothing so Fayre as she hathe bene reportyd, howbeit she is well and semelys, whereunto I answeryd Saying by my Faythe Syr ye Saye trewthe, adding therunto that yet I thought she hadde a quenlye manner, and nevertheles was sorye that your grace was no better content, and theruppon your grace commandyd me to calle to gether your Cowsayle whiche were thes by name the archebusshop of Caunterburye the Dukes of Norffolke & Suffolke my lorde Admyrall my lorde of Duresme and my selffe to Commons of thos matyers, and to know what commyssyon the Agenttes of Clevys hadde browght as well touching the perfformaunce of the Conuenunttes sent before from hens to Doctour Wotton to have bene Concludyd in Clevys, as also in the declaracyon how the matyers, stode for the Conuenauntts of Maryage between the Duke of loreyna Son and the sayd ladye Anne, wheruppon Osleger and Hogeston wer Callyd and the matyers purpossyd, wherby it playnlye apperyd that they were moche astonyed and abashed and desyryd that they might make answer in the next mornyng which was sondaye and upon sondaye in the mornyng your sayd Cownsaylors and they met Erlye and ther eftsons was purposyd unto them aswell touching the Comyssyon For the performance of the tretye and artycles Sent to maister Wooton as also touching the Contractes and Couenaunttes of mariage between the Duke of lorayns Son, and the layde Anne and what termes thay stodde in. To the whiche thinges so purposyd they answeryd as men moche perplexyd that as touching Commyssyon thay hadde none to trete consernyng the Articles sent to Mr. Wotton and as to the contractes and Conuenaunttes of mariage they cowlde Say nothing but that a reuocacyon was made, and that they were but spowsaylles, and Fynallye after moche resonyng they offeryd them selffes to Remayne prisoners vntyll suche tyme as they Sholde haue sent vnto them From Clevys the Fyrst Artycles Ratyffyed vner the Duke theyr maisters Signe and Seale, and also the copye of the reuocacyon made between the Duke of lorayns Son and the layde Anne, vppon the which answers I was sent to your highness by my lords of your said Counsayle to declare to your highnes what answere they hade made and Came to your highness by the prevey wey into your prevey Chambre and Declaryd to the same all the Cyrcumstaunces wherewith your grace was veray moch displeasyd Saying I am not well handelyd insomoche that I mought well persayue that your highness was Fully determenyd not to haue goone thorow with the maryage at that tyme Saying vnto me thes woordes or the lyke in effect that yf it were not that she is com So Farre into my realme and the great preparacyons that my states & people hathe made For her and For Fere of making of a Ruffull in the woorlde that is to meane to dryve her brother into the hands of the emperowre and Frenche kynges handes being now to gether I woolde neuer haue ne marye her, so that I myght well persayve your grace was neyther Content with the person ne yet content with the proceding of the Agenttes, and at after dynner the sayd Sondaye your grace Sent For all your Sayd Cownsaylours and in repeting how your highnes was handelyd aswell towching the said Artycles as also the sayd matyer of the Duke of loreyns Son it myght and I dowt not dyde appere to them how lothe your highness was to haue maryed at that tyme. And theruppon &vppon the consyderacyons aforsayd your grace thowght that it sholde be well done that She Sholde make a protestacyon before your sayd Cownsaylours and notaryes to be present that she was Free from all contractes which was done accordinglye, and theruppon I repayring to your highnes declaryng how that she hadde made her protestacyon, wherunto your grace answeryd in effect thes woordes or moche lyke is ther none other Remedye but that I must nedes agenst my will put my nek in the yoke, and so I departyd levying your highness in a studye or pensyvenes, and yet your grace Determenyd the next mornyng to go thorow and in the mornyng which was Mondaye your mageste preparying yourself towardes the seromonye, ther was Some qyestyon who sholde lede here to churche and it was appoyntyd that the Erll of Essex disceasyd and an Erll that Came with her shold lede her to chyrche and theruppon one Cam to your highness and said unto yow that the Erll of Essex was not yet Come wheruppon your grace appoyntyd me to be on that sholde lede here and So I went vnto her Chamber to thentent to have don your Comawndment and shortlye after I Came into the Chambre the Erll of essex was Com wheruppon your Magestye avauncyd toward the galerye owt of your pryvery Chambre, and your grace being in and abowte the middes of your Chamber of presens Callyd me vnto yow Saying thes woordes or the lyke in entens my lorde yf it were not to Satysfye the woorld and my Realme I woulde not doo that I must doo this day For none erthlye thing, and ther with one brought your grace woorde that She was Commyng and theruppon your grace Repayryd into the galerye towardes the Clossett and ther pawsyd her Commyng being nothing contest that She So long taryed as I iudged then. and so consequentlye She Came, and your grace afterwardes procedyd to the Serymonyes, and they being Fynysshyd travelyde the day, as appartaynyd and the nyght after the Costome And in the mornyng on tewysday I repayryng to your Majesty in to your prevey Chambre Fynding your grace not so plesaunte as I trustyd to haue done I was so bolde to aske your grace how ye lykyd the wuene wherunto your grace Sobyrlye answeryd saying that I was not all men, Surlye my lorde as ye know I lykyd her beffor not well but now I lyke her moche woorse For quoth your highnes I haue Felte her belye and her brestes and therby as I Can Judge She Sholde be noe mayde which Strake me So to the harte when I Felt them that I hadde nother will nor Corage to procede any Fether in other matyers, Saying I haue left her as good a mayde as I Founde her whiche me thought then ye spake displesauntly which I was veraye Sorye to here. your highnes also after Candlemas and beffore Shorofftyde oons or twyse sayd that ye were in the same Case with her as ye were affore and that your hert Coulde neuer consent to medyll with her Carnallye notwithstanding your highnes alledgyd that ye For the most parte vsyd to lye with her nyghtlye or cuery second nyght, and yet your majestye euer sayd that she was as good a mayde For yow as euer her mother bare her, For any thing that ye hadde mynystred to her your highnes Shewyd me also in lent last passyd at suche tyme as your grace hadde Sume communicacyon with her of my ladye marye how that She began to wax Stoborne and wylffull euer lamenting your Fate and euer vereffyng that ye hadde neuer any Carnall knowlage with her, and also after Ester your grace lykewyse at dyuers tymes and in the whytsonweke in your gracys prevey Chamber at grenewyche excedinglye lamentyd your Fate and that your gretyst greffe was that ye sholde Surlye neuer haue any moo Chyldren For the Comffort of this Realme yf ye Sholde So Contynew, assuryng me that beffore god ye thought she was neuer your lawffull wyff at which tyme your grace knowyth what answer I madde, which was that I woolde for my parte do my vttermost to Comffort & delyuer your grace of your afflyccyon and how sorye I was bothe to Se & here your grace god knowyth your grace dyuers tymes Sethen wytsontyde declaryd the lyke to me, euer alledgyng one thing, and also Saying that ye hadde as moche done to moue the Consent of your hert and mynde as euer dyd man and that ye toke god to wytnes but euer ye sayd the obstacle Coulde neuer owt of your mynde and gracyous prynce after that ye hadde Fyrst sene her at Rochester I neuer thowght in my hert that ye were or woolde be contentyd with that maryage, and Syr I know now in what Case I Stande In which is oonlye in the mercye of god and your grace, yff I haue not to the vtterst of my Remembraunce Sayd the trowthe and the holle trowthe in this matyer god neuer helpe me I am Sewre as I think ether is no man lyvyng in this your Realme that knew more in this then I dyde your highnes onlye except and I am sure my lord admyrall Calling to his Remembraunce Can Shew your highnes and be my wyttness what I sayd vnto hym after your grace Came From Rochester, ye and also after your gracys maryage, and also now of late Sethens wytsontyde, and I dowt not but manye and dyuers of my lords of your Counsayll bothe beffore your mariage and Sthens haue Right well persayvyd that your magestye hathe not ben well pleasyd with your mariage, and as I shall answer to god I neuer thought your grace content after ye hadde ons Sene her at Rochester, and this is all that I know most gracyous and most mercyfull Souerayng lorde, beseeching almightye god who euer in all your Causes hathe euer Counsaylyd preservyd oppenyd mayntayned relevyd and deffendyd your highness so he now will witsave to Cownsayle yow preserue yow maynteyn yow remedye yow releve and deffend yow as may be most to your honor welthe prosperytye helthe and Comffort of your hertys desire For the whiche, and For the long lyffe & prosperous reighne of of your most Royall magestye I shall durying my lyffe and whylis I am here praye to almyghtye god that he of his most haboundant goodnes, will help ayde and Comffort yow and after your Contenewaunce of Nestors yeres that that most noble Impe the prynces grace your most dere Sone may succede yow to reighne long prosperouslye and Felycyouslye to goddess plesure, besechyng most humblye your grace to pardon this my Rude wrything, and to consider that I am a most wooffull prisoner redye to take the dethe when it Shall please god and your majestye and yet the Fraylle Fleshe incytythe me contynnewallye to Call to your grace For mercye and pardon For myne offencys and this Crist Salve preserue & kepe yow wrytyn at the towre this Wedensdaye the last of June with the hevye hert and tremblyng hande of your highnes most hevye and most miserable prisoner & poore slave

Most gravyous prynce

I Crye for mercye mercye mercye




With this letter it was Cromwell’s last chance to appeal to Henry and save his life, however, the letter did not work and Cromwell would not get to speak to Henry again.

Cromwell's handwritingAn example of Thomas Cromwell’s handwriting

On this day in 1491 – King Henry VIII was born

On 28th June 1491 the future King Henry VIII was born in the manor house of Placentia, Greenwich. A small country manor house within the vicinity of Greenwich Palace. It was a far less significant birth to his older brother, Arthur, who was the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne. Henry’s birth was largely less important as he was viewed as ‘the spare’

Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York, would have gone into confinement after hearing a mass at the beginning of June. Her confinement would have been arranged down to the finest detail. Elizabeth’s chamber would have been highly decorated with intricate tapestries hanging from the walls, bed and windows they would be rich in colour and heavy. There would have also been hangings and cloth across the chamber. It would have been Elizabeth’s first confinement to take place in the height of summer and with the room plunged into darkness it would have been hotter than usual.

On 28th June Elizabeth gave birth to her second son. Henry would have been taken by his nurses and bathed in various substances including milk, sweet butter and barley water amongst others in the hope of preventing death before the infant was baptised.

Henry’s birth was less significant compared to his elder brother and sister. Very few records exist of Henry’s birth and even his paternal grandmother, Margaret Beaufort, only wrote a small note in her Book of Hours when she had wrote dates and times for Arthur. Henry was destining for a quiet life as the spare.

Henry was baptised in Greenwich Church of the Observant Friars where Richard Foxe, Bishop of Exeter presided over the service. The church was lavishly decorated with tapestries, damask and cloth of gold and a wooden stage was built where the Canterbury silver font was placed. Now baptised Henry would soon be sent to Eltham where he would join his sister in the royal nursery. Just 11 years later Henry would suddenly find himself the new heir to the throne after the unexpected death of his older brother and with that Henry was catapulted into a life that would lead him to be King.

Henry VIII childThis bust is believed to be Henry VIII as a child