Henry VIII died as a Roman Catholic man

King Henry VIIIThe unpredictable despot

Contemporaries took little notice of the happy event reported on June 28, 1491 from the Palace at Greenwich. Queen Elizabeth of York had given birth to a healthy boy - the future monarch who was to pave the way for the Reformation in England, but who also enjoys the sinister fame of having killed two of his six wives. Little Heinrich, however, was not intended for the role of ruler when he was born. It was not until the age of eleven that he became heir to the throne after his brother's death, to the annoyance of his father, who mistrusted the political talent of his second-born.

"Henry VII was very clever, very cunning, suspicious to the point of excess and saw from the start that this son had an unbelievably charismatic aura and everything that was otherwise expected from a ruler at this time, i.e. love of splendor, representation and so on, but he foresaw exactly that, that he had insanely dangerous dispositions and precisely this tendency to excess, that everything manifested and showed itself in a very tragic way. "

The author Sabine Appel has presented a biography of Henry VIII and is writing a book about his controversy with Martin Luther. After all, this king, who came to the throne at 18, was a multifaceted monarch. Sporty and martial, at the same time highly educated and musically gifted. At the age of eight he began correspondence in Latin with the humanist Erasmus von Rotterdam. He composed songs and concerts, read ancient authors and church fathers in their original texts, and had profound theological knowledge. As a 30-year-old he wrote a pamphlet for the Catholic doctrine of the sacraments against Luther in 1521.

"What venomous snake had ever crept in like the one that wrote about the Babylonian captivity of the Church? What a hell of a wolf that seeks to disperse Christ's flock."

The Pope rewarded Henry VIII with the title "Defender of the Faith"

"The fact that Luther then speaks of the priesthood of all believers naturally also has a subversive element for him, and that is why all secular rulers had to fear these heretics too, because of course the thought was always there: Well, if they were now the authority of the doubt the Roman Pope, at some point they will also doubt the authority of the monarchs, so that always had a subversive element. "

The Pope rewarded Henry VIII with the title "Defender of the Faith", which his successors still use today. The reformer was unimpressed.

"So there is not much brain in this king's head."

It was almost an accident in history that this king of all people brought about the break between the English Church and the Pope. After 16 years of marriage to Katharina von Aragon, Heinrich fell in love with her lady-in-waiting Anne Boleyn. But she did not like his mistress, but wanted to be his queen. Heinrich wrote languishing love letters, struggled for years to have his marriage annulled by the church and, because the Pope was stubborn, finally proclaimed himself head of an English state church. Was it like that?

"I think it is too brief to say: Well, he broke away from the Pope because he did not get him through this divorce. That is correct. But that also had a theological background, it had a strong one Conscience conflicts are the foundation, and he has wondered all his life what he could do to be a godly king. "

Why had God given him a daughter but no male heir? Was he going to punish him for having married his late brother? Was His Marriage a Sin? Heinrich did not find God's blessing as he had hoped for. Anne Boleyn also gave birth to a daughter and climbed the scaffold after three years. Her successor finally gave birth to a son but died in childbed. Heinrich had worn out the strength of his country in costly and useless campaigns in France. Over the years he became a bitter, unpredictable despot. The humanist Thomas More, who had cheered Heinrich's accession to the throne, no longer had any illusions.

"If my head got him a lock in France, I would be rid of him".

As an opponent of Heinrich's church reform, More, like many followers of the old faith, lost his head in 1535. At the same time, the king continued to have Protestants burned as heretics.

"It's a tremendous journey and also a personality change. I think that in the end it also had pathological traits in him."

When he died in January 1547, 70,000 executions were the bloody balance of his reign.