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King Henry's Wives

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The King and His Wives

Shakespeare for Kids

Henry VIII is famous for his six wives. One reason that he was married so many times was because he wanted a son to become king after him. When King Henry was alive, England had not yet had a queen who was powerful enough to rule on her own. 


Henry's first wife was Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish princess who had been briefly married to his older brother Arthur. Henry and Catherine had several children, but the only child who survived was a daughter, Mary.


Henry divorced Catherine and married Anne Boleyn, who also had a daughter, Elizabeth. His third wife was Jane Seymour. Jane had a son, Edward, but she died soon after Edward was born. Henry's next wives were Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. However, he did not have any more children.


King Henry's son Edward did become king of England. But Edward died when he was only 15, and his sister Mary then became queen. When Mary died, Elizabeth was crowned. Elizabeth ruled England for 45 years. She became a powerful and popular queen.   



George Gower. The "Sieve" portrait of Elizabeth I. Oil on panel, 1579.

Artist Unknown. Henry VIII and his Six Wives. Engraving, 19th century

Did you know?

William Shakespeare wrote a play about King Henry called Henry VIII, or All is True. This is the play that was being performed at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre when it burned down in 1613. One of the cannons used for a special effect made the roof catch on fire.

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