|From: ForeverAmber (Original Message)||Sent: 6/30/2003 12:01 PM|
Henry VIII's matrimonial affairs, the breach with Rome, the attack on monasticism, the bastardization of the two princesses, the executions, & the persistent rebellions took the bloom off the Tudor rose for many of his subjects & fellow rulers. Many hostile thing were said about Henry by his contemporaries. For example: when Henry took his jousting fall in January 1536, it was said "it were better he had broken his neck"; he was called "a mole who should be put down" ROFL, "a tyrant more cruel than Nero"; it was said that "Cardinal Wolsey had been an honest man if he had had an honest master", "our king wants only an apple & a fair wench to dally with".....to cite a few more colorful insults of his day.
Hmmm.....kinda takes the gloss off the image of "Bluff King Hal" whom all his subjects adored, doesn't it? The people seemed to "like him not" by the late 1530s.
Anyway, with that brilliant opening ROFL, I thought this thread could serve to solicit opinion on Henry's tenure as king. What were his most heinous crimes, foolish blunders? Conversely, what were his greatest achievements? Let's try to keep the wives & kiddies out of it & just focus on Henry as king, not husband or father (because I think we all pretty much agree he wasn't much of either!).
It seems that many kings have been dislikedby their subjects towards the end of their reign, take Henry VII for example. Yes, Henry VIII was unpopularby the end of his riegn, but this unpopularity has to be put down to the temprement of people of the time aswell as the monarch and his doings.
I'm not sure if "dislike" is the issue as much as the "out with the old and in with the new" issue. After all, as the old reign is obviously winding down, courtiers and politicians must jockey for postion for the incomming, new reign.
After all, there is no purpose in allying ones self to a dying monarch, now is there?
The quotes I believe were from a good 15-20 years prior to Henry's death, when he was in reasonably good health & in no immediate danger of imminent death, so it seems the common man was heartily sick of him by the midpoint of his reign.....that IS when all the problems started!
Much as we like Anne Boleyn, methinks Henry placed his realm in more political jeopardy by panting after her & repudiating his marriage to Catherine! I mean, take a closer look: if Henry had died between 1527, when he made the "divorce" public, & 1537, when Edward was finally born.....yikes! There might have been a gruesome succession crisis, with adherents of Mary, Elizabeth & Anne, & even Richmond all vying for supremacy. Had he died after Anne but before the birth of Edward, when he had bastardized both his daughters, the situation would have proved even more perilous. The succession had not been defined at all during that entire decade. Despite his efforts, he still died leaving a male heir who was a minor & easily led by controlling forces around him!
If Henry had accepted his lot in life & kept his lusts quelled, Mary might have had a nice, normal happy adolescence; she would have married at a normal age & possibly been able to have children when she was younger; with the concerns of the heiress presumptive marrying out of the kingdom, she might even have married an Englishman such as her cousin Reginald Pole (who was not yet in holy orders then), again uniting the red & white roses. There would have been no uncertainty & no anxiety over the succession; indeed, Mary had been invested as Princess of Wales when it became clear Catherine would probably not have more children & even though there were assorted grumblings in remembrance of the disaster that was Matilda, an alliance with a Plantagenet cousin (as there were still some left then whom Henry hadn't offed their heads ROFL) would have quieted any challenges on behalf of other claimants & assured a smooth transition of power upon Henry's death.
Instead, he was too busy vainly trying to curry favor on the Continent & thinking with his codpiece ROFL to accept that he might not have a son to follow him & that Mary was really a smart cookie who could have done a halfway decent job had her education been continued, her family remained intact, & her health not ruined by nervous anxiety......& England would have stayed Catholic, so the poor myopic thing would not have gone down in history so disparagingly as "Bloody Mary", either!
|From: jkcelt||Sent: 7/1/2003 10:57 PM|
|I do think that his breaking away from Rome was his major disaster (since we're not counting wives). Talk about lasting effects. |
I think it was more the effects of the break with Rome than the break itself, specifically the dissolution of the monasteries. Henry liked to portray himself as a learned man, a devotee of humanism & the "new learning", & his initial thoughts on what to do with the Church's wealth had to do with establishing centers of education. Not only did most of the booty flow into the royal coffers instead, but English education was severely set back with the closing of so many places that were devoted to it. Not only that, but many of the monasteries & abbeys hosted hospitals as well as schools. Henry never did anything about reestablishing any places to care for the sick. No wonder his subjects "liked him not".
|These opinions though were not said while Henry was alive. If you read other accounts he was a loved King for trying to ensure a male line for the throne and also what he did with the Church of the day.|
To me it is more the pity that other Monarchs were not a strong as he was. By this I do not mean taking 6 wives or the actions wit the State or church. But if you look at the case of Say Edward II who was a weak king murdered by his wife, who was controlled later by a strong King her son Edward III. Then Henry was of his day correct.
Today we can all take the eyes of the year 2003 and look down on him as an animal. I will never view him as such.
Pssst, Lou.....Greeny says:
The quotes I believe were from a good 15-20 years prior to Henry's death, when he was in reasonably good health & in no immediate danger of imminent death, so it seems the common man was heartily sick of him by the midpoint of his reign.....
There really is a great deal of contemporary evidence that the longer he reigned, the less fondness was felt for Henry by his subjects!
Well, it's hard to comment on H8 without mentioning his marital adventures! But I'll try.
Leaving those things out, I think his greatest achievement was jump-starting the English navy. If I remember correctly, they really didn't have a Royal Navy before H8. Also, depending on your religion, his endorsement of the Protestant cause was a great achievement - even if it was mainly to help his love life - and he never thought of himself as a Protestant!
As to his mistakes - I think the two wars against France were a colossal waste of money. Just because he wanted to play soldier!! Also his unfortunate habit of confusing his will with God's will - but that's back to the wife and children issue again! It's hard to avoid that! I also think it's terribly sad that he was responsible for the deaths of so many of his near and distant relatives, all in the name of keeping the crown safe. The Pole family, in particular, was decimated by H8.
Just my thoughts
I most heartily agree with terrilee about the navy. Before Henry 8, there was no real navy to speak of. It was Henry who had real warships built and layed the foundations which would, later, be the downfall of the great Spanish armada.
One of his biggest blunders was after the break with Rome, when he had made himself head of the church in England and he could not leave it at that. His requirement for everyone to take the oath of supremecy or be executed, deprived England of some of her best and brightest.
If the oath had not been a requirement and some people such as Sir Thomas Moore had lived and carried on in office, it is interesting to speculate what different direction some things might have gone.
I think it was bastardising both his daughters before Jane Seymour had a baby. I mean, she could have miscarried Edward, and had he died, who would have ruled England? But he really made people angry with the distroying the monasteries.