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Love thyself last; cherish those hearts that hate thee. Corruption wins not more than honesty.
~ Henry VIII

Henry VIII (June 28th, 1491 – January 28th, 1547) was king of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was lord, and later king, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France. Henry was the second monarch of the Tudor dynasty, succeeding his father, Henry VII.

Besides his six marriages, Henry VIII is known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. Henry's struggles with Rome led to the separation of the Church of England from papal authority, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and his own establishment as the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Yet he remained a believer in core Catholic theological teachings, even after his excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church. He is also remembered for having many people beheaded for a wide range of offences. The most notable of these was English statesman and philosopher Thomas More, who refused to recognise Henry as being superior to the Pope and uphold the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Henry oversaw the legal union of England and Wales with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. He passed the Buggery Act of 1533, making it an offence punishable by death for two men to have gay sex. In 1513, the new king allied with the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian I, and invaded France in 1513 with a large, well-equipped army, but achieved little at a considerable financial cost. Maximillian, for his part, used the English invasion to his own ends, and this prejudiced England's ability to defeat the French. This foray would prove the start of an obsession for Henry, who invaded again in 1544. This time, Henry's forces captured the important city of Boulogne, but again the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, supported Henry only as long as he needed to and England, strained by the enormous cost of the war, ransomed the city back for peace.

His contemporaries considered Henry in his prime to be an attractive, educated and accomplished king, and he has been described as "one of the most charismatic rulers to sit on the English throne". Besides ruling with absolute power, he also engaged himself as an author and composer. His desire to provide England with a male heir – which stemmed partly from personal vanity and partly because he believed a daughter would be unable to consolidate the Tudor dynasty and the fragile peace that existed following the Wars of the Roses – led to the two things for which Henry is most remembered: his six marriages and the English Reformation. Henry became morbidly obese and his health suffered, contributing to his death in 1547. He is frequently characterised in his later life as a lustful, egotistical, harsh, and insecure king.

Henry cultivated the image of a Renaissance man, and his court was a centre of scholarly and artistic innovation and glamorous excess, epitomised by the Field of the Cloth of Gold. He scouted the country for choirboys, taking some directly from Wolsey's choir, and introduced Renaissance music into court. Musicians included Benedict de Opitiis, Richard Sampson, Ambrose Lupo, and Venetian organist Dionisio Memo, and Henry himself kept a considerable collection of instruments. He was skilled on the lute and could play the organ, and he was a talented player of the virginals. He could also sight read music and sing well. He was an accomplished musician, author, and poet; his best known piece of music is "Pastime with Good Company" ("The Kynges Ballade"), and he is reputed to have written "Greensleeves" but probably did not.

Henry was an avid gambler and dice player, and he excelled at sports, especially jousting, hunting, and real tennis. He was also known for his strong defence of conventional Christian piety. He was involved in the construction and improvement of several significant buildings, including Nonsuch Palace, King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and Westminster Abbey in London. Many of the existing buildings which he improved were properties confiscated from Wolsey, such as Christ Church, Oxford, Hampton Court Palace, the Palace of Whitehall, and Trinity College, Cambridge.

Henry was an intellectual, the first English king with a modern humanist education. He read and wrote English, French, and Latin, and owned a large library. He annotated many books and published one of his own, and he had numerous pamphlets and lectures prepared to support the reformation of the church. Richard Sampson's Oratio (1534), for example, was an argument for absolute obedience to the monarchy and claimed that the English church had always been independent from Rome. At the popular level, theatre and minstrel troupes funded by the crown travelled around the land to promote the new religious practices; the pope and Catholic priests and monks were mocked as foreign devils, while the glorious king was hailed as a brave and heroic defender of the true faith. Henry worked hard to present an image of unchallengeable authority and irresistible power.

Henry was a large, well-built athlete, over 6 feet [1.8 m] tall, strong, and broad in proportion, and he excelled at jousting and hunting. These were more than pastimes; they were political devices which served multiple goals, enhancing his athletic royal image, impressing foreign emissaries and rulers, and conveying his ability to suppress any rebellion. He arranged a jousting tournament at Greenwich in 1517 where he wore gilded armour and gilded horse trappings, and outfits of velvet, satin, and cloth of gold with pearls and jewels. It suitably impressed foreign ambassadors, one of whom wrote home that "the wealth and civilisation of the world are here, and those who call the English barbarians appear to me to render themselves such". Henry finally retired from jousting in 1536 after a heavy fall from his horse left him unconscious for two hours, but he continued to sponsor two lavish tournaments a year. He then started adding weight and lost the trim, athletic figure that had made him so handsome, and his courtiers began dressing in heavily padded clothes to emulate and flatter him. His health rapidly declined near the end of his reign and he died in 1547.

His daughter was Bloody Mary Tudor, who reigned as Queen of England from 1553 to 1558.

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