Henry VIII to Edward VI of England

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Henry VIII
(Reigned 1509-47)

The second son of Henry VII was not wholly the tyrannical monster of popular legend, but he executed two and divorced two more of his six wives. His passion for Anne Boleyn was one reason for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the immediate cause of the severance from Rome, which is the outstanding event of his reign. His other marriages sprang from the need of securing the succession. Cruel and capricious, with an intellect above the average, and possessing the sense of greatness, he made himself a dominant figure in Europe, and inspired equally fear and devotion in his subjects.

Catherine of Aragon

Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Catherine married Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII in 1501. She was widowed five months later, and in 1509 married his brother Henry VIII. For several years there was deep affection between them. But the deaths of all her children except Mary endangered the succession, and Henry's decision to divorce her was hastened by his passion for Anne Boleyn. The marriage was annulled in 1533, bringing about the breach with Rome. The rest of her life was spent in harsh confinement.

Catherine Howard
(d. 1542)

Neglected during her youth, Catherine Howard was entrusted to her grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who, however, failed to exercise much control over her. There is evidence of intrigue and even of a secret engagement (regarded as a marriage) to one, Dereham. Appearing at Court in 1540 she attracted the attention of Henry VIII, and soon became his fifth Queen. Unfortunately she resumed her old intimacles and the King was informed of her previous misconduct; she and others implicated were found guilty of treason and executed, although there was no proof of the charges against her.

Edward VI
(Reigned 1547-53)

The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Edward succeeded his father at the age of nine, the government being carried on by a Council of Regency of which the head was his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, styled Protector. Precocious in learning, he was lacking in affection or sympathy, and when Somerset was attacked readily consented to his execution. He was ardent in the Protestant religion, and was strongly influenced by Latimer and Ridley. Sickly throughout his short life, he died of consumption, devising the Crown to his Protestant cousin Jane Grey, to the exclusion of his sisters.

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