Henry VIII of England

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Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger

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


  • 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-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, take an oath to the Pope clean contrary to the oath they make to us, so that they seem to be his subjects and not ours.
      • As quoted in English Constitutional History from the Teutonic Conquest to the Present Time (1905) by Thomas Pitt Taswell-Langmead, p. 332
  • 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 VIII[edit]

  • 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 certain Friar, William Peto, first to publicly denounce Henry VIII's marriage with Anne Boleyn, addressed the king (who was in the congregation) thus:
  • 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.
    • Easter sermon, March 1532, on 1 Kings 22. (Peto's words are believed to have come literally true when, on 14 February 1547, as the coffin of Henry VIII lay overnight at Syon Monastery, his remains burst open and dogs were seen licking up some blood the next morning. [4] [5])
    • "Last of the Carthusians and the Fate of the Observant Fathers," in Catholic world, 1881, Volume 34, Catholic Publication Society, New York, p. 257. [6]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Two beheadings out of six wives is too many.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • 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.

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