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KING HENRY VIII
KING HENRY VIII
Henry VIII was born on June 28, 1491. His father and mother, Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, were loving parents, although they saw little of their children. Henry, their second son, was styled the Duke of York. He had his own servants and minstrels, and a fool named John Goose. He even had a whipping boy who was punished when Henry did something wrong.
Henry VII loved entertainers, and the court attracted acrobats, jesters, magicians and musicians. Prince Henry enjoyed music and grew up to be an accomplished musician (although he did not write "Greensleeves," as legend suggests). At the age of 10 he could play many instruments, including the fife, harp, viola and drums.
Henry's older brother Arthur married a Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon, when he was fifteen. Prince Arthur danced at his wedding and seemed to be in good health, but within a few months he was dead. Some historians think Arthur had tuberculosis.
Young Henry was now heir to the throne. He was guarded at all times and allowed to see few people. Henry was a very tall, athletic, handsome teenager. He kept his exuberant personality under control on public occasions because he feared his father's temper. He received little training for his future role as king, and would rely heavily on his counsellors in the early years of his reign.
In 1509 Henry VII died of tuberculosis and his son became King Henry VIII. He was 17.
Although most people today think of Henry VIII as a fat tyrant, in his youth he was admired for his intelligence, good looks, good nature and athletic ability. One of his contemporaries wrote that he was "one of the best men that lived in his time, in manners more than a man, most amiable, courteous and benign in gesture unto all persons."
But of course, Henry is remembered today for just one thing - well, six things. Six wives, to be exact. He was married to Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Katherine Parr.
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