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Henry VIII, King of England

1491 - 1547

Henry VIII (1491 - 1547) became king of England in 1509. He was a successful and learned, although ruthless, monarch. Henry is popularly famed for having six wives, but, far more significantly, he instigated the English Reformation.

The initial spark for the momentous political and cultural changes he brought about was his inability to get papal approval for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. As a result he broke free of Roman Catholicism and by the Act of Supremacy in 1534 established himself as the head of the Church of England. Subsequently he dissolved the English monastries.

The painter Holbein worked at the court of Henry VIII.