Henry VIII and His Six Wives
Written and researched by: Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Coat of Arms of Henry VIII with the Tudor's motto (translated from Latin): "God and My Right"


Han Holbein, the Younger's Portrait of Henry VIII (1540) and The Tudor Rose Crest

Music playing is Henry VIII's Pastime in Good Company" ... My midi is from The Internet Renaissance Band

I have always been fascinated with Henry VIII. He was one of the most written about monarchs in English history. In his quest for heirs, he divorced Catharine of Aragon (who gave him his first daughter, Mary Tudor, later known as "Bloody Mary"), He beheaded his second wife, Ann Boleyn (who bore him Elizabeth Tudor, Elizabeth I, "the Virgin Queen"). His third wife, Jane Seymour, finally gave him his son, Edward, but Jane died in childbirth and her son had a very short reign as king. Henry saw a portrait of Ann of Cleves, and decided that she might be a good fourth wife, but later discovered that her portrait flattered her, and their marriage was annulled. Henry quickly married and beheaded Catharine Howard, Anne Boleyn's first cousin, and his fifth wife. In his old age, he married Katharine Parr. She who married a series of old men, and outlived Henry VIII, before giving birth or being left or executed like all the rest. She ended up raising his children. Henry Tudor (Henry VIII) certainly didn't get his heir. Not even his illegitimate children lived to carry on his line. Thus, we can pretty much establish that Henry VIII did not leave a single heir (at least not that we know of). There have been numerous stories about the possibility that Mary Boleyn (Anne's sister) might have given him an heir, but even Henry did not claim her children as his own. So we can't attest to any of this except as a new theory. I have included Henry VIII amongst my pages since he loved the Howards and Boleyns, and I have been searching to see if my lines connect to them, since I have multiple Howard lines in my Packard/Howard line. Some older records attested to this as truth, but modern genealogists say those old records were false. To date, I have NOT found a clear path connecting my Howards to the royal Howards.

I have read much about Henry since childhood and find him fascinating.

This portrait I have seen labelled both as Arthur Tudor and Henry Tudor

Henry VIII took the throne of England after the death of his father Henry VII on April 22, 1509. Henry was age eighteen (18). He was proclaimed "King" on April 23, 1509, the Feast Day of St. George, the patron saint of England and the Most Noble Order of the Garter.


  1. His older brother, Arthur was born on September 20, 1486. Arthur died April 2, 1502 (at age 16). Arthur was the Prince of Wales. Arthur was betrothed to Catherine of Aragon after negotiations began in 1488, when Arthur was only two years of age. Caterina, of Spain, was two years Arthur's elder. Arthur and Catherine were married on November 14, 1501, in St Paul's Cathedral and they lived at Ludlow. Five (5) months later Arthur died of the sweating sickness. It was thought that they never consumated their marriage.

  2. Margaret Tudor (1489-1541) was born November 29, 1489. She married James IV of Scotland, in Edinburgh, on August 8, 1503, and was Queen of Scotland. Margaret was said to play the lute and the clavichord. Margaret died on October 18, 1541 (at age 52).

    Margaret and James had two children:

    James V of Scotland who married Marie de Guise.
    Margaret who married Matthew, the Earl of Lennox.

  3. Henry Tudor, later Henry VIII, was born June 28, 1491, in the Palace of Greenwich, London, England. Henery was five years younger than his brother Arthur, Prince of Wales. In 1514, Henry had smallpox (at age 23), but had a remarkable recovery. Henry died on Friday, January 28, 1547, at 2 a.m. (at age 56). There was great secrecy about his actual cause of death and the citizens were not told until a few days after his death.

  4. Mary Tudor (1495-1533) was born in March 1496. Mary married (1) Louis XII who died on January 1515. She then married (2) Charles Brandon (B: 1485), Duke of Suffolk.

Henry was the youngest son, and was therefore was not in the limelight, as long as his brother Arthur was alive. His childhood was a rather isolated existence.

Mistresses of Henry VIII

In 1518, Henry (at age 27) tried Elizabeth "Bessie" Blount, the daughter of Shropshire knight, Sir John Blount of Kinlet Hall in Shropshire, England. Her mother was Katherine Peshall. Katerine's father fought at Bosworth with Henry VII. John and Katherine Blount had a total of eleven children. Bessie was eighteen years old at the time Henry met her, and was said to be a real beauty. In the summer of 1519, Bessie gave birth to Henry's son in Blackmore Manor (alias "Jericho") in Essex, England. Jericho was one of two houses of pleasure where Henry kept for his whores. The child, Henry Fitzroy (1519-1536) was made the Duke of Richmond on June 15, 1524 (at age 6) and one week earlier he was made Knight of the Garter.

The title of Duke of Richmond was the title Henry VIII's father had before becoming King of England. Henry Fitzroy was raised as the son of Bessie's husband, Gilbert Tailboys at Rokeby Manor in Warwickshire. Gilbert Tailboys married Elizabeth Blount on June 1519. He was knighted in 1525. Bessie and Gilbert had three children before he died. Bessie's second husband was Edward Fiennes, 9th Lord Clinton, Earl of Lincoln. Edward was fourteen years older than Elizabeth Blount. She bore him three daughters and she died in 1540. Bessie's son, Henry FitzRoy, was given a dowry. Henry, Jr. died of tuberculosis, in his teens (age 17), on July 22, 1536, in St. James Palace, and was buried in St. Michael's Church in Framlingham. In 1533, Henry Fitzroy married Mary Howard, the daughter of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk and Anne, daughter of Edward IV. Mary's grandfather was Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and Second Duke of Norfolk (victor at Flodden). Mary's great-grandfather was John Howard, Duke of Norfolk and a knight at Bosworth in 1485.

It is thought that Henry and Mary never consummated their marriage before his early death.

Another mistress was Lady Elizabeth Fitzwalter (Henry's second cousin) who married Robert Fitzwalter.

Mary Boleyn, who Francois I, of France, dubbed "whore" was Henry's next love interest. He married her to: William Carey and she became Lady in Waiting to Catherine of Aragon. Their affair lasted two years.

Some think that Henry might have fathered one of her children. However, Henry never acknowledged her children as his. Mary Boleyn married (1) William Cary, the son of Thomas Cary of Chilton and Margaret Spencer (a descendant of Edward III). William was born c. 1495 and died on June 22, 1528. (2) Sir William Stafford was born c. 1512 and died June 22, 1528.

Children of William Carey were:

.....(A). Catherine Mary Carey who was born c. 1524 and died on January 15, 1569 in Hampton Court Palace. She was buried in Westminster Abbey on April 1569. Catherine Mary Carey married (1) Sir Frances Knolly, the son of Robert Knolly and Lettice Pennystone (1514-July 19, 1596).

.....(B). Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, was born March 4, 1526, and was said to have a remarkable resemblance to Henry VIII. Henry Carey died July 23, 1596 at Somerset House. Henry's marriage contract on May 21, 1545 was to Ann Morgan, daughter of Sir Thomas Morgan and Anne Whitney.

A child of Sir William Stafford was born about 1534 and died before they could be named.

The March 1999 issue of Genealogist Magazine explores the possibilty that Mary Boleyn's children were fathered by Henry VIII. The Society of Genealogists, in England, publishes this magazine.

Facts about Henry VIII

Henry VIII and the Reformation:

During the Reformation, Henry VIII was responsible for the destruction of many Catholic Church relics, and saint's remains. For example:

    All of her four sisters were saints:

    St. Sexburga, entered Ely monastery after the death of her husband, King Erconbert. She was abbess after her sister Etheldreda.
    St. Withburga was a recluse at Dereham in Norfolk, where she founded a religious house.
    St Ethelburga was an abbess at the Monastery at Brie.
    St. Sethrid was also an abbess at Brie.

These saints also had two brothers named, Adlwulf and Adulphus. Their aunt was St. Hilda, the foundress and abbess of Whitby monastery. Queen Hereswide also entered a religious life after the death of King Anna and died a holy death in the abbey of St. Clotilde, near Paris.

St Etheldreda was contracted to marry Prince Tonbercht, who ruled a territory next to that of her father's. Her husband respected her vow of virginity. He died three years after their marriage and she was then a widow. She retired to the Isle of Ely, her settlement in her husband's will. She remained, in prayer, for the next five years. Later on, Etheldreda was made to marry King Egfrid, when he was only sixteen (16) years old. This was a political marriage and she remained chaste. They were married for twelve years and eventually King Egfrid allowed her to go into a monastery ruled by his aunt, Abbess Ebba, at Coldingham. She was given the veil by St. Wilfred in 671.

St. Etheldreda was an incorruptible. Her relics were scattered and the shrine was completely destroyed to the point that only the base remained. She was said to have prophesied her own death from the plague. She was buried in a wooden coffin, but sixteen years later her sister, Sexburga, removed her bones to the church. At this time her body was noted as free from corruption. The church was destroyed by the Danes, but her body was untouched. This was to continue for 800 years. When Henry VIII ordered the destruction of her body, only her left hand was said to have remained.

  • 3. Saint Werburgh (?-699)
    Werburgh was the daughter of King Wulfhere of Mercia and St. Erminilda, and St. Ethedreda, the Abbess of Ely, was her grandmother. Her grandfather was King Ethelred. During the reign of Henry VIII the tomb was completely destroyed, and it is not known if the body was again removed to safety or was destroyed, as so many others were.

  • 4. Saint Withburga (?-743)was the youngest of five saintly daughters of King Ann of East Angles. The relics of Withburga, along with those of her sisters, were all destroyed during the reformation, on the orders of Henry VIII, and no traces of her exists. St. Withburga was also a incorruptible before this.


Tudor History ... The Mary Rose ... Tudor Web

Holbein, Hans the Younger ... Artcult-Hans Holbien ... See MY BIBLIOGRAPHY under Royalty for my sources.

British Table
Tudor Table

[Mary I|Edward VI|Elizabeth I|Lady Jane Grey]

You are the visitor since August 7, 2005.


This page is designed and updated by Maggie Sypniewski, BFA
This page was last updated on June 28, 2015.