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The Final Years

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The Final Years


Portrait of Henry VIII. Manuscript, ca. 1542/3

The King became ever more irascible during his later years as his health deteriorated. He was preoccupied with the Church and, in a sudden about-face, “An Act Abolishing Diversity in Opinions,” was enacted in 1539. The law reasserted much traditional doctrine, and the burning of heretics increased. The return to conservatism was a major defeat for Archbishop Cranmer, chief minister Cromwell, and others who wished to move closer to Protestantism.


Henry also continued to attack his intimates. Among those executed for treason were Thomas Cromwell (for having misled the king in urging his marriage to Anne of Cleves) and the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (for suggesting that his father, Duke of Norfolk, was the logical Protector for Prince Edward, the heir to the throne). Henry VIII died on January 28, 1547 at the age of fifty-five. He was buried in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle beside Jane Seymour, his favorite wife, the woman who had borne him a son and heir.


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Cornelius Metsys. Henricus dei gratia rex anglie. Print, 1548

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