King Henry VIII.

King Henry VIII.

King Henry VIII ruled England for 36 years, yet his reign remains known for his love affairs and marriages more so than his achievements. Here are five things you never knew about Henry VIII.

With six wives and a body fit for mocking, King Henry VIII has become something of an infamous monarch. But believe it or not, the king actually achieved more than marriage during his 36 years on the throne. Here are five things you don't know about Henry VIII. 

Henry VIII was a strong supporter of the Catholic Church in his youth

In 1521 Henry VIII published a book-length attack towards  German Protestant reformer Martin Luther, referring to Luther as “a venomous serpent, a pernicious plague, infernal wolf, an infectious soul, a detestable trumpeter of pride, calumnies, and schism.” In recognition of Henry’s support, Pope Leo X awarded him the title “Fidei defensor,” or Defender of the Faith.

However, a mere ten years late, Henry led the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church after Pope Clement VII refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Henry continued to be spiteful towards Catherine of Aragon, even after her death

Even after Henry VIII had their marriage annulled and married Anne Boleyn, Catherine remained faithful to Henry. While some speculate that this was to secure the future of their daughter, Mary I, Catherine's final letter to Henry stated: “‘Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things. Farewell.”

Henry VIII did not show such regard, and after Catherine's death in January 1536  Henry and his new queen, Anne Boleyn, appeared publicly in all-yellow attire. Which has lead some historians to speculate that the couple were celebrating Catherine's death. 

Portrait of Catherine of Aragon, Queen Consort of England (1485-1536) first wife to Henry VIII, King of England from the Works of William Shakespeare

Portrait of Catherine of Aragon, Queen Consort of England (1485-1536) first wife to Henry VIII, King of England from the Works of William Shakespeare

Henry VIII was a songwriter 

Believe it or not, Henry VIII wrote the words and music for the song Pastime with Good Company which became very popular both in Britain and beyond. While some have suggested that Henry is the man behind the famous English folk song Greensleeves, those lyrics only reached England from Italy long after Henry's death. 

Henry VIII was the first English king to be called “Your Majesty”

Before Henry VIII, English kings were addressed as “Your Grace” or “Your Highness.” After the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V began being called “Majesty” in 1519, Henry VIII, not to be outdone, adopted the term for himself.

Henry VIII's nickname was copper nose 

Despite the fact that Henry's kingdom amassed great wealth during the English Reformation, by the end of his reign funds were so low Henry had to start lowering the percentage of silver in British coinage. In the end, the coins were mostly copper with a silver coating that wore away with use, most commonly starting at his nose! 

* Originally published in 2018.