Henry VIII of England

King of England from 1509 until 1547

Henry VIII (June 28, 1491January 28, 1547) was king of England from 1509 to 1547.

Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger


  • For this book is for me and all kings to read.
    • On William Tyndale's The Obedience of a Christian Man (c. 1528), quoted in John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memorials: Relating Chiefly to Religion, and Its Reformation Under the Reigns of King Henry VIII., King Edward VI., and Queen Mary the First, Volume I (1816), p. 177
  • [We are] not only prince and king, but set on such a pinnacle of dignity that we know no superior on earth.
    • Letter to William Benet (September 1530), quoted in J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (1968; 1971 ed.), p. 350
  • I shall never consent to his being judge in that affair [sc. the divorce]. Even if his holiness should do his worst by excommunicating me and so forth, I shall not mind it, for I care not a fig for all his excommunications. Let him follow his own at Rome, I will do here what I think best.
    • Remarks to the papal nuncio (June 1531), quoted in J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII (1968; 1971 ed.), p. 379
  • Well-beloved subjects, we thought that the clergy of our realm had been our subjects wholly, but now we have well perceived that they be but half our subjects, yea, and scarce our subjects: for all the prelates at their consecration make an oath to the pope, clean contrary to the oath that they make to us, so that they seem to be his subjects, and not ours.
    • Speech to Parliament (11 May 1532), as quoted in Hall's Chronicle (1809), edited by Sir Henry Ellis, p. 788
  • Well trusting therefore that these urgent causes shall be so indifferently pondered and weighed in the balance of the Pope's judgment and heart, and also his own duty, which things well considered, he having also regard to his oath in the receipt of his dignity which he there actually giveth for observance both of the general Councils and the antique laws of the fathers of the Church, considering also with himself how we at the time of our coronation be likewise obliged both to support and maintain the immunities and princely liberties of our realm and crown, which to contrary I make myself sure his holiness well informed, will never require, since it is prohibite both by God's precept and law of nature by these words. Quod tibi non vis fieri alteri ne facias.
    • Draft of a despatch to the ambassadors at Rome (January 1533), quoted in Nicholas Pocock, Records of the Reformation: The Divorce 1527-1533. Mostly now for the first time printed from mss. in the British Museum, the Public Record Office, the Venetian Archives and other libraries, Vol. II (1870), p. 438
  • We be informed by our judges that we at no time stand so highly in our estate royal as in the time of Parliament, wherein we as head and you as members are conjoined and knit together into one body politic, so as whatsoever offence or injury (during that time) is offered to the meanest member of the House is to be judged as done against our person and the whole Court of Parliament.
    • Speech to Parliament on parliamentary privilege (March/April 1542), as quoted in Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland Volume III (1808), by Raphael Holinshed, p. 824
  • Alas, how can the poor souls live in Concord when you preachers sow amongst them in your sermons debate and discord? They look to you for light and you bring them darkness. Amend these crimes, I exhort you, and set forth God's word truly, both by true preaching and giving a good example, or else, I, whom God has appointed his vicar and high minister here, will see these divisions extinct, and these enormities corrected...
    • Last speech to parliament, December 24, 1545. [1]
    • See also: Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII, Great Britain. Public Record Office, John Sherren Brewer, Robert Henry, vol. XX, part 2, p. 513. [2]
  • Be not judges yourselves of your own fantastical opinions and vain expositions; and although you be permitted to read Holy Scriptures and to have the Word of God in your mother tongue, you must understand it is licensed so to do only to inform your conscience and inform your children and families, not to make Scripture a railing and taunting stock against priests and preachers. I am very sorry to know and hear how irreverently that precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rimed, sung, and jangled in every alehouse and tavern, contrary to the true meaning and doctrine of the same.
    • Last speech to parliament, December 24, 1545.
    • English Church History from the Death of King Henry VII to the Death of Archbishop Parker, Rev. Alfred Plummer, 1905, Edinburg, T. & T. Clark, p. 85. [3]

Quotes about Henry VIIIEdit

  • We may be amused by a defence of Richard III., but we can feel only indignation and disgust at an apology for Henry VIII., whose atrocities are as well authenticated as those of Robespierre, and are less excusable.
    • John Campbell, 1st Baron Campbell, Lives of the Lord Chancellors (1846)
  • Two beheadings out of six wives is too many.
  • Henry the Eighth has been favoured by some Protestant writers because the Reformation was achieved in his time. But the mighty merit of it lies with other men and not with him; and it can be rendered none the worse by this monster’s crimes, and none the better by any defence of them. The plain truth is, that he was a most intolerable ruffian, a disgrace to human nature, and a blot of blood and grease upon the History of England.
  • Quisquis enim hic felicem agit vitam, atque rempublicam recte gubernat, sicut nobilissimus meus pater fecit, qui promouit omnem pietatem atque expulit omnem ignorantiam, habet certissimum iter in coelum.
  • [W]hoever leads an auspicious life here and governs the commonwealth rightly, as my most noble father did, who promoted all piety and banished all ignorance, has a most certain way to heaven.
  • I am sure you were at Hampton Court when the French king's ambassador was entertained there at those solemn banqueting-houses, not long before the king's death; namely, when, after the banquet was done the first night, the king was leaning upon the ambassador and upon me: if I should tell what communication between the king's highness and the said ambassador was had, concerning the establishing of sincere religion then, a man would hardly have believed it: nor had I myself thought the king's highness had been so forward in those matters as then appeared. I may tell you, it passed the pulling down of roods, and suppressing the ringing of bells. I take it that few in England would have believed, that the king's majesty and the French king had been at this point, not only, within half a year after, to have changed the mass in both the realms into a communion (as we now use it), but also utterly to have extirped and banished the bishop of Rome, and his usurped power, out of both their realms and dominions.
    • Thomas Cranmer, quoted in John Foxe, The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, Vol. V (1870), pp. 563-564
  • And thus much touching the end of king Henry, who, if he had continued a few months longer (all those obits and masses, which appear in his will made before he went to Boulogne, notwithstanding), most certain it is, and to be signified to all posterity, that his full purpose was to have repurged the estate of the church, and to have gone through with the same, so that he would not have left one mass in all England.
    • John Foxe, The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, Vol. V (1870), p. 692
  • Evangelicals often had reason to view Henry VIII as another persecuting Pharaoh, but when the king turned against the pope and began wielding his sword against "persecutors" like Thomas More in the early 1530s, some clearly began to envision him as an agent of divine vengeance against their enemies.
    • Karl Gunther, Reformation Unbound: Protestant Visions of Reform in England, 1525-1590 (2014), p. 87
  • A pig, an ass, a dunghill, the spawn of an adder, a basilisk, a lying buffoon, a mad fool with a frothy mouth.
    • Martin Luther, quoted on page 46 of A History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland by William Cobbett
  • Pig, dolt and liar.
    • Martin Luther, quoted in Ackroyd, Peter (1999). The Life of Thomas More. New York: Anchor Books.
  • And even where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, even there shall the dogs lick thy blood also, O king! And I am that Micheas whom thou wilt hate, because I must tell thee truly that thy marriage is unlawful; and I know I shall eat the bread of affliction, and drink the water of sorrow, yet because our Lord hath put it into my mouth I must speak it. There are many other preachers, yea, too many, who preach and persuade thee otherwise, feeding thy folly and frail affections upon the hope of their own worldly promotion; and by that means they destroy thy soul, thy honor and posterity, to obtain fat benefices, to become rich abbots and get episcopal jurisdiction and other ecclesiastical dignities. There, I say, are the four hundred prophets who, in the spirit of lying, seek to deceive thee; but take good heed lest you, being seduced, find Achab's punishment, which was to have his blood 'licked up by the dogs,' saying it was the greatest miscarriage of princes to be daily abused by flatterers.
    • William Petow, sermon (1 May 1532), on 1 Kings 22, quoted in "Last of the Carthusians and the Fate of the Observant Fathers," in Catholic world, 1881, Volume 34, Catholic Publication Society, New York, p. 257. [5]
  • A lying, greedy and idiotic king, a beetle and a pile of dung, the spawn of a snake, a chicken, a lying toad mixed all together by Satan's spawn.
    • Henry Randall, quoted on page 77 of A Tale of the Worst Kings in England by John Gaist.
  • He had survived pretenders, excommunication, rebellion and threats of invasion, died in his bed and passed his throne peacefully to his heir. He had won a title, Defender of the Faith, which English monarchs still boast... He had made war on England's ancient enemies and himself led two assaults on France. For nearly four decades he had cut an imposing figure in Europe...bestriding its high diplomacy as few of his predecessors, if any, had done. He had defied pope and emperor, brought into being in England and Ireland a national Church subject to his authority, wiped about a thousand religious houses off the face of his native land...and bestowed on English kingship a profound new dignity. He...had brought the Scriptures in the vernacular to his people, hesitantly and perhaps partly unwittingly, but none the less decisively, allowed his country to be directed towards the continental Reformation...and given to his people a new sense of unity – the unity of ‘entire Englishmen’ rather than that of 'Englishmen papisticate' or of those who were 'scarce our subjects'. The England which he had led back into European affairs...had disowned allegiance to any external authority, indisputably emerged from his reign with a new political 'wholeness'... Thanks above all to Thomas Cromwell, his reign had given England much 'good governance'.
  • Henry's reign in many ways left a deeper mark on the mind, heart and face of England than did any event in English history between the coming of the Normans and the coming of the factory.
  • Henry VIII not only countenanced the practice of military pastimes by permitting them to be exercised without restraint but also endeavoured to make them fashionable by his own example. Hall assures us, that, even after his accession to the throne, he continued daily to amuse himself in archery, casting of the bar, wrestling, or dancing, and frequently in tilting, tourneying, fighting at the barriers with swords, and battle-axes, and such like martial recreations, in most of which there were few that could excel him. His leisure time he spent in playing at the recorders, flute, and virginals, in a setting of songs, singing and making of ballads. He was also exceedingly fond of hunting, hawking, and other sports of the field; and indeed his example so far prevailed, that hunting, hawking, riding the great horse, charging dexterously with the lance at the tilt, leaping, and running, were necessary accomplishments for a man of fashion.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: