King Henry VIII - The Tudors - Tudor England
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Henry VIII

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

When Henry VII died in 1509, his son Henry VIII, at 18 years old, became king of England. Like the Ottoman sultans, like Francis I in France, and like Charles Quint in the rest of Europe at the same time, Henry VIII worked to make his country more of a country and himself more of an absolute king.

One way Henry VIII got more power was that he started his own Christian church. Henry said he wouldn't do what the Pope said anymore, even if the Pope excommunicated him. (Henry also got a lot of money by closing many Catholic monasteries and taking their money!) Henry also killed a lot of people, including two of his seven wives. But in Henry's time England's main business was exporting wool cloth, and nobody was very interested in ships or sailing to the New World.

When Henry died, probably of diabetes, in 1547, he was only 55 years old. Henry's son Edward VI became king of England. But Edward was only nine years old, so his uncle Edward Seymour was the real ruler of England. When Edward died (possibly of tuberculosis or pneumonia) at 15, his older half-sister Mary soon became Queen of England.

Learn by doing: The Prince and the Pauper
What happened next? Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth

Bibliography and further reading about Henry VIII and Tudor England:

What happened next? Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth Ottoman Empire
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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