The Henry VIII Quiz


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About This Quiz

Did Henry VIII really get married to the widow next door, who had been married seven times before? That's what the popular song by Herman's Hermits alleges, anyway. The answer is no, and no. But exactly how much do you know about this famous English monarch?

You probably know he had a bunch of wives. That fact made him a force in popular culture. William Shakespeare penned the play "Henry VIII" not all that long after the monarch's death; it was first performed in 1613. Tragically, a cannon was shot off during one of the performances and ignited the original Globe Theater, which then burned to the ground. Many movies about Henry were made in more recent times as well.

But there's more to Henry VIII then just a love of women. He loved music and owned dozens of musical instruments, among them 78 recorders, 78 flutes and five sets of bagpipes. He must have loved collecting, too, because he also owned 50 palaces, 70 ships and 6,500 handguns.

And Henry must have had a certain level of smarts, because he invented the "stairthrone" — possibly the world's first chairlift — to help move him up and down the stairs at Whitehall Palace.

No more factoids. It's time to see how much you know about this famous monarch, who also sparked a religious revolution and a succession crisis. Take the quiz!

Who was Henry VIII's father?

Henry VIII's father, Henry VII, became the first monarch of the House of Tudors. The Tudors ruled until 1603.

Henry became heir to the crown:

Henry VIII's older brother, Arthur, died before having any children, and before Henry VII died--therefore making Henry VIII next in line to be king. Arthur's title was "Prince of Wales."

The young Henry could be described as physically:

Henry was tall for the time (over 6 feet) and quite fit. He was very good at a variety of athletic endeavors, from tennis to jousting.

Henry married Catherine of Aragon, who had previously been married to:

Catherine and Henry's brother Arthur were only married for a few months when Arthur died. Catherine ended up becoming Henry VIII's first wife.

When did Henry ascend the throne?

After his father died in 1509, Henry took the throne. He was only 17 years old, and married 23-year-old Catherine soon after becoming king.

By most accounts, Catherine and Henry's early marriage was:

For nearly 20 years, Catherine and Henry seemed a good match. However, she was unable to give birth to a male heir that survived childhood.

Catherine's only surviving child was:

Princess Mary was born in 1516, the only surviving child of Catherine's six births. She went on to become Queen Mary I, and ruled from 1553-1558. She was called "Bloody Mary" for her violent executions of religious dissidents.

An important early counselor for Henry was Thomas Wolsey. What was Wolsey's position?

Wolsey became cardinal in 1505 and was an influential minister during Henry's early reign. He was given the title and position of "Lord Chancellor" by Henry.

What caused Henry's disillusionment with Catherine?

Although Henry carried on multiple affairs throughout his marriage to Catherine, it was ultimately his concern for a male heir that caused him to pursue an annulment to his marriage.

How did Henry convince himself (and attempt to convince the Pope) that his marriage should be annulled?

Henry tried to use the argument laid out in Leviticus 20:21. Pope Clement VII, however, did not accept that as reason to annul the marriage.

Henry had a strong adviser in Thomas More. What were More's most pressing concerns?

More didn't approve of a divorce and was devoted to making sure Lutheranism didn't spread.

What adviser finally succeeded in helping Henry get his divorce by separating England from the Catholic church?

Cromwell got the king what he wanted, but the result was a complete severing of England from papal authority. Cromwell also became vicegerent and vicar-general in the Church of England.

What other Cromwell policy did Henry benefit from?

Remember that the Catholic church was quite wealthy; by making the money from the monasteries the property of the king, the crown became enormously rich.

Henry married Anne Boleyn in 1533. How long did the marriage last?

It wasn't long before Henry grew tired of Anne. Their marriage ended in her execution -- although, she remains a remarkably important figure in the history of England, despite her short time as a queen. Were it not for Henry's desire to marry her, his unsuccessful attempt to annul his marriage to Catherine might not have lead to the establishment of the Church of England.

Why did Henry seek to end his marriage to Anne Boleyn?

Although she bore him Elizabeth less than a year after their marriage, no male heir meant suspicions were aroused — rightly or wrongly. She was eventually executed based on charges of adultery, incest and treason. Her daughter, Elizabeth, would go on to rule England for over 40 years, during what would later become known as the Elizabethan era.

Anne was executed in May 1536. When did Henry marry Jane Seymour, his third wife?

Eleven days after Anne was beheaded, Jane Seymour became Queen. She had been one of the former queen's ladies-in-waiting.

Jane gave Henry a male heir, but their marriage ended a bit more than a year after their marriage due to what?

Jane Seymour died from an infection acquired during childbirth.

Three years after Jane's death, Henry married Anne of Cleves — a strategic move designed to do what?

Thomas Cromwell thought that marrying Anne of Cleves would help Henry bolster his religious position against the Catholic Church.

Henry divorced Anne of Cleves just six months after marrying her because of what?

Henry realized, soon after this marriage, that he wanted to marry Catherine Howard, instead. Anne of Cleves and Henry never consummated their marriage, and they annulled their marriage amicably — she received an honorary title as "The King's Sister," two homes and regular payments.

Who was a casualty of Anne of Cleves and Henry's marriage?

Henry was mad that Cromwell had pushed him to marry Anne of Cleves. Other political opponents accused him of supporting heretics. He was eventually sentenced to death (without trial) and executed the same day as Henry's next wedding.

After the Anne of Cleves disaster, who was the next of Henry's wives?

Catherine Howard was the 17-year-old niece of Henry's political opponent, the Duke of Norfolk. Henry was very happy with his marriage — at least at the beginning. Alas, she was eventually beheaded.

What was Catherine Howard's crime?

She had an affair with Thomas Culpeper after marrying Henry, as well as an informal contract to marry Frances Dereham prior to her marriage to the king. All three of them were executed.

By Catherine's death in 1542, Henry was increasingly:

Henry grew quite overweight and made erratic and unwise decisions. It's possible that these physical and mental changes were caused by medical ailments brought on by injuries from jousting.

Catherine Parr married Henry in 1543. How did their marriage end?

Catherine Parr was Henry's last wife. She also helped convince him to allow his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to be allowed back in the line of royal succession.

How many wives did Henry VIII have?

This should be easy if you've been keeping score: Henry married Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.

Which of Henry's wives survived him?

Anne of Cleves (like Catherine of Aragon, who died of natural causes in 1533) was merely divorced from Henry, and actually lived the longest of Henry's former wives.

After Henry died in 1547, who succeeded him on the throne?

Henry's son with Jane Seymour, Edward, was made king at the age of 9, but died when he was 15. He was then succeeded by Lady Jane Grey, but she was deposed by Mary (soon the be Queen Mary I) within two weeks of becoming the queen.

What was Henry's last name?

Henry's father, Henry VII, was first of the Tudor line of the monarchy. The family had Welsh origins.

What was the name of the one illegitimate son that Henry acknowledged?

Henry was likely ashamed of having had no male heir, and while this child wasn't a proper heir, it was still his son. His son's surname, FitzRoy, literally translates to "Son of the King," likely so that no one could accuse Henry VIII of being unable to have sons.

What rhyme can help you remember the fate of Henry's wives?

Here's the breakdown: Catherine of Aragon was divorced, Anne Boleyn was beheaded, Jane Seymour died after childbirth, Anne of Cleves was divorced, Catherine Howard was beheaded and Catherine Parr survived the king.

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