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King Henry VIII's report card
| KEY ACHIEVEMENTS:|
Responsible for the Reformation in England and founded the Church of England with himself as its supreme head. He also:
A true child of the Renaissance - a gentleman in the knightly, chivalric sense, an intellectual who read St Thomas Aquinas for pleasure, an expert linguist, a humanist, an astronomer, a world-class sportsman, a competent musician and composer, an accomplished horseman, and a knowledgeable theologian. He could turn his hand to anything from designing weapons to mathematics or technology, from making up medicines to drawing maps or brick-making. But Henry's true greatness lay in his practical aptitude, his acute political perception, and in the self-restraint that enabled him to confine - within limits acceptable to his people - an insatiable appetite for power.
The principal founder of the English navy, the fleet of warships he built was the first standing military force of its time, and the basis for Britain's future dominance of the seas. Without his work, Elizabeth's victory over the Spanish Armada and the development of the English colonies would never have been possible. He elevated England's status in Europe, where he consistently helped to maintain a balance of power between his rivals, Francis I and France, and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Through his reforms, Protestantism was able to gain its powerful purchase on the English-speaking world.
He changed the heart, mind and face of Britain more than anything between the coming of the Normans and the factory age. In the reigns of his children, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, his legend became embedded in the national consciousness, and "Great Harry" was especially lauded for having rescued the English Church from the tyranny of Rome. Today, historians recognise that his reign contributed an extraordinary legacy - modern Britain. Henry began his reign in a mediaeval kingdom; he ended it in what was effectively a modern state. We are still living in the England of Henry VIII.
[Source: Alison Weir - BBC News Magazine]
Viewed by some as the embodiment of the warrior king who restored England’s honor, by others as a tyrant who ruled by the chopping block, the life of Henry VIII has been a source of continuous fascination. Catholic writers pictured him as the devil, English Protestants credited him as the founder of their religion. His appetites became legendary, whether he was wrestling with Francis I, eating and drinking enormous meals, or marrying six women.
After the civil wars of the preceding century that had weakened the monarchy, Henry VIII reestablished the power of the English crown. This was done largely through the work of his powerful ministers Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex. They made use of the new Privy Council (the former royal council) and Parliament, whose members included the aristocracy and gentry. As these groups were brought into government, their individual ability to challenge the king diminished. The confiscation of church wealth enabled Henry’s heirs to rule without new revenues for the rest of the century. The dual defeat of the Scots made his kingdom safe from armed invasion while his strengthening of the navy made it safe from attacks by sea.
Henry’s break with Rome was a critical step in the development of English national identity.His vision of an English empire encouraged successive generations to look outward with the spirit of enterprise that eventually led to England’s expansion overseas. [source: encarta]
Experts discuss war in the 16th century and why Henry VIII would have gone to war.
[source: HistoricRoyalPalaces May 22, 2009]
|The Good||The Bad||The Ugly|
| He was responsible for: |
- the early establishment of an English Navy
-Education and literacy: Latin and French were the standard languages in Henry VIII’s court. English was spoken but there were so many different dialects that a man from Yorkshire might not be able to understand the English of a man from Cumbrian. Henry VIII’s decision to allow the Tyndale bible to be printed unified English into one dialect. In fact, if it were not for Henry’s decision to print the Tyndale bible then people from all over the world would not be allowed to communicate in one language on this very board.
- Henry pretty much introduced the concept of state education. When he dissolved the monasteries, he used the money to found a group of schools called the Kings Schools. Talented yet poor children could go to these schools on scholarship. Famous poor but brilliant children who went to these schools include Christopher Marlow and William Harvey.
Just think…if it were not for Henry then we might not have discovered that blood circulates for a long time which brings me to ….
| He was responsible for: |
- the dissolution of the Monasteries. Some of the most beautiful Cathedrals & Churches damaged.
- the break with Rome isolated England & caused long protracted conflicts with Spain through the 16th & 17th centuries.
- his constant need for wars & his lavish lifestyle bled the coffers of England dry.
- he was not an effective military commander or diplomat & engaged in many very expensive military ventures in France which accomplished absolutely nothing.
-he divorced/annulled his wives on biblical pretexts and yet had married them with the Pope's dispensation.
| He was responsible for :|
-abusing the judicial system to have innocent people murdered in a tyrannical manner. People who either just wouldn't compromise their conscience or because they stood in the way of what he wanted.
- It was recorded that he had over 70.000 people executed and even if this number is inflated, it was still a large number of people. Many of whom were innocent except for their different beliefs. He actually executed 3 catholics and 3 reformers on the same day to show his "fairness".
- he professed to "love" many people (ie. Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, Queen Katherine of Aragon , Mary, Elizabeth) & yet treated them abominably, even to judicially murdering them.
| - Medical and Scientific Progress |
Little was known about anatomy in the early 16th century because the Catholic Church had forbade dissection. Poor Galen was stuck dissecting pigs and trying to apply this knowledge to the human body. If you have ever looked inside a pig than you would agree that it is a tad different. Henry VIII’s rein was a giant step toward anatomical knowledge. Henry established the College of Barber Surgeons and gave them a number of corpses for dissection each year.
| - he was immoral and yet in complete denial of the fact. |
- he discarded women like they were a pair of old shoes that were worn out and he needed a new pair.
-He was so blinded in his desire for a male heir that he bastardized his own daughters Princess Mary Tudor and Princess Elizabeth Tudor
|- his treatment of people who crossed him or whom he thought he needed to be rid of: he executed friends and lovers, pushed away his children, showed indifference at best and cruelty at worst when it came to his subjects in general. All the executions were not necessary.|
| Renaissance |
He supported the Renaissance in England in its early stages when it needed nurturing. He surrounded himself with men who championed the new ways of thinking and his patronage of the arts, humanists, and other tenets of renaissance culture made many of the great thinkers, such as Erasmus and More, household names for common English folk.
-Protestants will say the split with Rome was a good thing but of course Catholics would disagree.
| -The way the break with Rome occurred caused a brutal dissolution of Monasteries, theft of resources in favour of the Treasury, & executions. |
-The megalomaniac way he ended up using his expanded powers: he abused them when he could have used the opportunity to establish his rule as a benevolent and good ruler. Henry had the freedom to be a precursor of the enlightened ruler if he had wanted to be...but he obviously did not (he even had the humanist education to be a good ruler, so he has no excuse for making the wrong choices)
|He engaged in religious persecution. Neither Lutherans nor Roman Catholics were safe after the split with Rome. He was far from the only monarch to persecute people for their religious beliefs, but this is not a justification.|
| -His foreign policy established England on the European map as an independent power of some importance despite the weakness of his treasury and armies (especially if compared with France and the Empire) |
-His break with Rome indirectly strengthened the Crown and put an end to the medieval structure of Power in England. This is the start of the Modern era for the country. An important mark of modernity being the absolute power of the King or Queen.
-His interest in all things education and knowledge: his children benefited from an excellent education. Even the girls...and that was a rarity at the time.
| - Henry was very cantankerous at times. Even to beating his faithful servant Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex about the head and calling a courtier, "his pig". |
-He was utterly contradictory.He allowed the bible to be printed in English but upheld the mass in Latin. He upheld the sacraments yet attacked idolatry. He said Anne of Cleves could not be a virgin because of her slack breasts and yet told his council that he left her a virgin as he found her.
|-The "Rough Wooing". Henry's invasions of Scotland in order to force a marriage between little Mary Stuart and his son, though his brother in law Edward Seymour was even more aggressive in this matter while he was regent for Edward VI.|
| Restored the succession |
-Bringing his daughter's Mary and Elizabeth back in the line of succession and acknowledging them in good faith.
| - Henry VIII's life was so compelling and interesting that it has caused countless tv shows and movies about him, including "The Tudors" and without that, we would not be on this wiki together. |
- Henry had some amazing children. Each one was very intelligent and amazing in their own way.
- Henry signed & read every single document in Star Chamber cases.
| -He was an accomplished songwriter, and while it's unlikely that he wrote "Greensleeves" he wrote many popular pieces such as "Pastime With Good Company". |
-Fostered the arts
-He rocked an excellent beard.
| - His methods were brutal and he had become a tyrant but….a lot of good came out of change. |
-All of the bad and ugly things he did should have taught (or should teach) future monarchs and others (including the present day) how NOT to behave seeing the evil consequences of his actions. Sometimes a really bad situation can shake people out of their complacency into something positive
|-It can be argued that Henry had no option but to remove threats to his throne such as the Pole Family who were Plantagenets for the survival of his line. The same can be said of his need for a male heir according to how a 16th century male would view things.|
|- He has attained some form of immortality since he is remembered to this day as a Great King 500 years later.|
What do you think?
Success or Failure?
Put your comments here:
| After reviewing the list of "good" things, on the left, it looks like he was more of a success than a failure as a Monarch despite his romantic and bloody history. |
|On the other hand, I think Henry's reign could be described as ' The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". Most of the "Good Column" states his achievements, and I think Henry can be seen as one of the founders of the British Navy. But...a man who judicially murdered two wives, who changed the law to execute a legally insane woman, and had an elderly woman beheaded ( Margaret Pole) can only be described as 'bad and ugly' ~ Kiki52|
|What a wonderful writeup, MsSqu!!! Thought-provoking, concise and stuffed w/tidbits I hadn't known, or forgotten over the years! Thanks for this link! I often wonder if Henry's having to work for a change after Wolsey died that he lost his good intentions, and then later if his illnesses didn't have a factor in his cruelty? To be insulting to the common people doesn't sound like Henry to be honest. He knew as well as Bess that a King needed his people's love in order to be a successful monarch. Those blows to his head could have caused more than just headaches. He could have had some damage to the brain to make him behave as he did, enough to cause a major mental illness that in today's time would require medications to control it. Well, I'd have to say as a ruler, Henry did all right. But as a man, the jury is still out on that one! And since one effected the other, I'd go 65/35 on the successful ruler. He could have done some things differently, and he knew he could have, that's the rub. ---ETR|
|Henry inherited a little, medieval country that was merely a sideshow on the stage of European politics. By the time of his death in 1547, the country had been utterly transformed. The Rannaissance, the Reformation etc, etc had all combined to give England and the English a sense of thier own identity, and had become a major player in Europe. --Elliemental (Hannah)|
| I would say good...and bad! |
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|ammanvalleyjack||Henry: A Good Article Examining his Good AND Bad Achievements.||3||Jul 26 2010, 1:00 PM EDT by periwimkle|
Thread started: Jul 25 2010, 8:37 PM EDT Watch
im an eager amateur Henry VIII historian and regular lurker on these forums but first time poster. i guess its taken me a while to absorb the information to put it into something worth posting. I recently came across an article I had handwritten a year ago and have thus typed it up and decided to post it on my website and obviously its one thing having facebook friends and twitter people read it, but i'd like some people with an actual understanding of the man to discuss. first of all heres the essay broken down into sections exploring his reputation http://bit.ly/bHh353
to add on to that, i feel its time to start a discussion. if it has been done before my apologies, its late and my brain is fried. but as i explore in the above article, was Henry really pure evil and a despotic tyrant beyond saving as seems to be the general consensus. was he not just a well-meaningful man who lost his way as his life progressed? does personal failures undo all the good he did in implementing such things as state education, advancing the english language, the renaissance and so on? i feel a debate coming on.
|LadyJane1961||MY IDOL, HENRY THE EIGHTH (page: 1 2)||24||Mar 7 2010, 8:57 AM EST by phoof|
Thread started: May 7 2009, 8:24 AM EDT Watch
HENRY IS MISUNDERSTOOD IN OUR WORLD. WE SHOULD THINK LIKE HE DID IN HIS TIME.HE WAS ALWAYS WORRIED THAT SOME COUNTRY OR SOMEBODY WOULD TAKE HIS CROWN. PEOPLE CALL HIM A TYRANT, I CALL HIM A FIGHTER. EVEN THOUGH I DISAGREE IN SOME OF THE THINGS HE HAVE DONE, I UNDERSTAND WHY HE DID THEM..WE DONT UNDERSTAND HOW THINGS WERE LIKE BACK THEM. WE WERENT THERE . GIVE THIS MAN THE BENIFIT OF THE DOUBT. YES HE IS MY IDOL BECAUSE HE GAVE US HISTORY THAT WE ENJOY AND WITHOUT HIM THERE WILL BE NO TUDOR HISTORY/
|Boleynpatentpending||One more "bad" item||6||Mar 7 2010, 7:55 AM EST by Elliemental|
Thread started: Mar 6 2010, 11:45 PM EST Watch
I think one thing that that could be in "the bad" or "the ugly" section is the deceit Henry used to crush the Pilgrimage rebellion, pretending he wanted to meet with the leaders to trick them and then having them killed.
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Keyword tags: HenryVIII's life
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