| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
HENRY VIII.—THE STORY OF THE KING'S SIX WIVES
 AFTER the death of Wolsey, Henry chose a wise and gentle man
called Sir Thomas More to be his Chancellor.
As the Pope still refused to give Henry leave to send
Katherine away, he resolved to do so without leave. He sent
her away, married his new wife, Anne Boleyn, and, because
the Pope as head of the Church had refused to allow him to
send Katherine away, he announced that the Pope had nothing
more to do with the Church of England. Henry told the people
that in future they must look upon the King of England as
head of the Church as well as of the State.
The Pope was very angry with Henry and threatened him with
all kinds of punishments, but Henry did not care. He had
done what he wished to do, and was no longer afraid of the
Soon it began to be seen how wise Wolsey had been, for now
that Henry ruled without him he became a much worse King
than he had been before. Some good and wise men, among them
the Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, felt that Henry had been
wrong to quarrel with the Pope. They would not acknowledge
him as head of the Church, so Henry first put them into
prison and then he cut off their heads.
The King soon tired of Anne Boleyn, and, when people told
him that she was a wicked woman, he was quite
 willing to
believe them. He put her into prison and presently cut off her
head. The very next day he married another lady called Jane
Seymour. This lady was good and gentle, but she did not live
very long after she was married to Henry. He was very sad at
her death, and for two years he did not marry any one else.
At the end of that time he married a fourth lady. She was
called Anne of Cleves. Henry had never seen her, as she
lived in Germany, but he had seen a picture of her painted
by a famous artist called Holbein. In it she looked very
pretty, and Henry said he would marry her because Thomas
Cromwell, who was his chief adviser at that time, told him
that it would be a wise thing to do.
But when the lady came to England, Henry found that she was
not in the least like her picture. She was not at all
pretty; she was very clumsy and awkward and could not speak
a word of English.
Henry flew into a great passion, rudely called her "a great
Flanders mare" and vowed he would not marry her. He was,
however, obliged to do so. He was afraid if he did not, he
might have to fight the German Princes who were her friends.
But in revenge he put Thomas Cromwell into the Tower, and
cut off his head because he had advised this marriage.
Henry soon got rid of his new wife. He offered her a large
sum of money if she would go away and let him marry another
lady. Anne was quite pleased to do this. No doubt she was
glad to get away with her head safe upon her shoulders from
such an angry, passionate man.
About a fortnight later Henry married another lady, called
This time the King soon discovered that he had married a
wicked woman. She was not any more wicked than Henry was
himself, but he did not think of that.
 To punish her, he cut
off her head and the heads of several of her friends as
About a year later Henry married his sixth and last wife, a
lady called Catherine Parr. She was a good woman, and it is
wonderful that she should have been willing to marry so bad
a man, and one who was so fond of cutting off the heads of
his wives. Perhaps she thought that Henry might cut off her
head if she refused, and after all it was a fine thing to be
called Queen of England.
Catherine Parr was clever and she managed to keep her head
upon her shoulders, although Henry once thought of cutting
it off, because she did not quite agree with him about
Although Henry had quarrelled with the Pope, he did not wish
England to become a Protestant country. He wished the people to
remain Roman Catholics, but to look upon him instead of the
Pope as the head of the Church. So he beheaded and burned
the people who tried to follow the teaching of Luther, and
he also beheaded and burned those who still looked upon the
Pope as the head of the Church.
Yet Henry helped on the Reformation, for he gave an order
that a Bible should be placed in every church, so that
people might go there and read it. And as books were still
very dear, these Bibles were chained to the desks in case
people should be tempted to steal them away.
Henry VII. had left a great deal of money when he died, but
Henry VIII. was so extravagant and reckless that he soon
spent it all. He tried many ways of getting more money, and
after he quarrelled with the Pope he thought of a new way.
All over England there were monasteries and convents in
which men and women lived who gave up their lives to good
works. They cared for the sick and poor, taught
 the people
how to read and write, and did many other useful things.
Some of these monasteries and convents were very rich,
possessing land and jewels besides much money. Henry said
that the people who lived in these places led wicked lives.
No doubt some of them did, but many of them led good lives
and brought great comfort and happiness to the poor around
them. But because of the evil which some did, Henry shut up
these monasteries and convents. He sent the people who had
lived in them out into the fields and streets homeless
wanderers, and took all their money and lands for himself.
Besides doing this Henry taxed the people very heavily, and
at last they rebelled. It was a curious rabble-like army
which gathered together—an army of peasants and weavers
led by priests and monks carrying their sacred banners and
They called their rebellion "The Pilgrimage of Grace." "Who
is your leader?" asked the Duke of Norfolk, who had been
sent against them.
"Our leader is Poverty," they replied, "and we are driven on
Although the King was not well prepared, the rebels did not
succeed. The Duke of Norfolk persuaded them to go home,
promising them pardon in the King's name. They went home,
but the following year the rebellion broke out again. This
time the King's soldiers were better prepared. The rebels
were defeated, many of them being taken prisoner and put to
death in cruel ways.
Henry VIII. died in 1547 A.D., having reigned for nearly
thirty-eight years. His reign was a great one for England,
the country becoming more important among the kingdoms of
Europe than it had ever been. But Henry himself was bad and
selfish, and at the end of his reign at least, proved
himself to be a cruel tyrant.
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