When a new survey by the Historical Writers Association asked authors to name the worst monarch in history, there was an overwhelming winner.
20 percent of the authors surveyed chose Henry VIII, the second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth Of York, who established the Church of England and began the Reformation.
In 1509, Henry was crowned as ruler of a nation of just over two million people. The young king was the embodiment of national pride. His first marriage to the beautiful and pious Katherine of Aragon from Spain created an alliance with one of the most powerful kingdoms in Europe. But Henry’s dark and brutal side soon became evident after he ascended to the throne.
Over the course of his reign, he executed two of his wives, several trusted advisors and countless innocents. His appetite for pleasure and his obsession with producing a male heir put him on a collision course with the powerful Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, he ravaged his empire and sinks into the depths of madness – but not before changing the course of history.
According to Victoria de la Torre, lecturer, Medieval and Renaissance Europe, University of San Diego: “The Tudors are the original soap opera because, pretty much everything you see in modern dramas, the Tudor period has in it. I think [what] most people remember him for is that cruelty and that not many kings have six wives. But his legacy also is this creating a national state of England and a national church but I think sometimes that is lost amidst this incredible melodrama that became his personal life.”