Despite being most famous for his six wives, King Henry VIII greatest achievements were in the field of politics, religion and military campaigns. He is also famous for being the father of one of the greatest queens that England has ever known; Elizabeth I.
Henry VIII Achievements
Henry achieved many military successes one of the greatest being the biggest invasion of France since the reign of Henry V. He was also behind the commissioning of England’s first gunship the Mary Rose which was built between 1509 and 1511. Henry is also behind the establishing of the Royal Naval Dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford; all of which lead to him being regarded as being the ‘Father of the British Navy’.
As far as politics are concerned it was under Henry’s rule that the nobles of the land lost a lot of their power, it being transferred instead to Parliament and the monarchy instead. The dissolution of the monasteries allowed for the creation of new lands and titles all of which were handed out by Henry. He was also king when the union of England and Wales took place as well as being granted the title of King of Ireland in 1541 by the Irish parliament.
Based on his achievements, was Henry VIII a Great King?
It all depends on how you term ‘great’. All three of his children went on to take the throne, ensuring the Tudor Dynasty for another generation. In his youth Henry was an energetic man, an accomplished sportsman, a keen musician and was known for having a great level of learning and intelligence.
Henry embodied everything that a country wanted from their king; he was an experienced horseman, successful huntsman and quite the athlete. It was only as he grew older and fell into ill health that he became known as a tyrannical king who stuck fear into the hearts of the population.
What Did Henry VIII Change When He Became King?
Henry was brought up in the Catholic faith, as such when he became king he was granted the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ by the then pope, Pope Leo X, a title which is still held by the monarch today. Henry was the major force behind the Reformation which saw the dissolution of the monasteries and saw the religion of the country being changed from Catholic to Protestant, with Henry being declared the Head of the Church of England.
The dissolution of the monasteries saw all of the money and lands which had previously belonged to a number of religious orders being removed and given to the crown, making England a much wealthier country as a result.
Henry VIII Failures in his lifetime
The fact that he took six wives is enough to say that marriage was not his strong suit. His desire to have a son at practically any cost meant that he was cruel to his wives when they could not produce the heir to the throne that he so desired. In many ways he failed as a father, declaring his daughters both illegitimate which meant that they would be unable to claim the throne.
He spent little time with his daughters, leaving them in the care of a governess and protector until they came of age and could be married off. Only later changing his ways when he grew older and placing his daughters back in the line of succession.