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Henry VIII was a flamboyant person. This picture of him was painted by Hans Holbein. Henry's first wife Catherine of Aragon gave him several children but only a girl Mary (later Mary I) survived. Henry thought that a girl could not be a monarch and wanted to divorce Catherine and remarry. He was not allowed to do this by the Pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church. So in 1534 he started the Church of England. The Church of England is still the state church of England, with the monarch as head.
Henry then married Anne Boleyn, and they had another daughter Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I). However, he believed that she was unfaithful to him, and executed her. He then married Jane Seymour and they finally had a son Edward (later Edward VI) but Jane died. Henry married several more times. Anne of Cleves was not a real marriage. Henry saw a picture of her and they were betrothed, but when he saw her, he changed his mind! The next wife was Catherine Howard, but she was executed for unfaithfulness, like Anne Boleyn. The last wife, Catherine Parr, managed to survive him. The six wives of Henry VIII are famous,and there are various ways of remembering them. There were three Catherines, two Annes and one Jane (although not in order), and their fates were "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived".
When Henry abolished the Roman Catholic Church within England, he dissolved the monasteries. Education and healing had been done by religious organisations, so the Tudors built or refounded new hospitals, schools and university colleges. Trinity College in Cambridge has a statue of Henry VIII on their gatehouse (see right).
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