THE WRONGED WIFE
King Henry VIII, the second Tudor king, is probably one of the best known of our English monarchs and his famous infatuation with the Lady Anne Boleyn for whom he broke with the Church of Rome, is reknowned throughout the western world.
It is unfortunate that he is most famously known for having married six times, and for having beheaded two of those wives, certainly in Anne's case I believe on trumped up charges. Catherine Howard, his fifth wife and the second to be executed, is the one I feel most pity for. She was a young girl, a teenager, and she was forced into marriage with an old man, a very overweight and smelly old man at that. It is unlikely that she was a virgin when she married the King, but her enemies used her immorality against her.
It is rumoured that Hampton Court Palace is haunted by the ghost of the young and terrified Catherine, who ran along the galleries calling to Henry, just before she was taken for execution. There are many witnesses that will swear they have seen her doing just that.
The Tower of London is said to be haunted by Queen Anne Boleyn, whose attraction for Henry soon wore out when she failed to give him the longed for son.
It is important to realise that although Henry was a megalomaniac who believed that every thought that entered his head came direct from God, it was of vital importance for him to secure a male heir to the throne. The Tudor dynasty was fragile, the throne won by his father in battle at Bosworth Field, when King Richard III, the last Plantaganet King of England was slain.
Only this year, Richard's remains have been discovered beneath a car park in Leicester, which is irrelevant but fascinating just the same.
So, Henry needed that son or the newborn Tudor dynasty would fall. It does not excuse the way he disposed of four of his six wives, certainly not by modern standards, but it is a valid reason which we must not forget.
When Henry broke with Rome and set himself up as the head of the church in England, even after dissolving the monasteries and stealing their wealth, the religion of the country remained catholic. It was veering toward protestantism, but during Henry's lifetime it was still Catholic and he still burnt heretics at the stake, like all the monarchs before him.
It was not until his son, Edward VI, succeeded him that the country was officially protestant.