King Henry VIII for Children
When his older brother died in 1502, Henry had to assume the duties of the eldest son and prepare to rule. He lived at Hampton Court Palace for most of his life. Henry was very intelligent. He learned to speak many languages and he liked sports. His favorite sports were tennis and hunting. He even wrote books and music. If you've ever heard the song "Greensleeves" or the holiday carol "What Child is This?" you have heard one of his songs. He wrote "Greensleeves" when he was a young man, and the melody was later used for the carol.
Henry VIII became king at the age of eighteen. King Henry VIII was successful in wars against the Scots and the French. He continued to build up the English navy, a task that was begun by his father, Henry VII. He was granted the title "Defender of the Faith" by the Pope. He later questioned the Church's authority when they refused to grant him a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. As a result, he split from the Catholic Church and established the Church of England. He annexed Wales into Britain, creating a unified nation.
Even with all his accomplishments, Henry is probably most famous for the fact that he had six wives. When Catherine of Aragon did not produce a living son, he sought to divorce her. She was the mother of Mary I. After Henry split with the Church and divorced her, he married Anne Boleyn. Anne was the mother of Elizabeth I, who would reign England for many years. Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Henry next married Jane Seymour. Jane died while giving birth to Henry's only living son, Edward VI. His son took the throne at the age of nine and ruled England until he died at the age of sixteen from consumption. Henry's next wife was Anne of Cleves. He married her as a political alliance but divorced her immediately when he didn't like the way she looked. His next wife, Catherine Howard, was beheaded when Henry found she was interested in someone else. His last wife, Catherine Parr, outlived King Henry.
Even though King Henry loved sports, in later life he became very large, as the most famous painting of him shows. He was injured in a jousting accident in 1536, and from that point on, he did not exercise as much as before. His leg injury eventually became ulcerated, which probably contributed to his early death. King Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547 at the age of 56. He was buried at Windsor Castle next to his third wife, Jane Seymour.
An interesting note is that all three of Henry's surviving children ruled England for a time, and all three died without an heir.
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