Thursday 29 October 2020

The parable of Henry VIII

The wives and knives

Catherine of Aragon feared for many things of her husband Henry VIII, a man of considerable charm and influence dogged by one particular issue of having an heir to continue his dynasty that he destroyed tradition, principle and religion to attempt to get his way.

It is an irony of history that the heir that succeeded him for just over 6 years, Edward VI, was born of his third wife, Jane Seymour who died soon after childbirth, Bloody Mary, Mary I, daughter of Catherine of Aragon who tried to restore the Catholic hegemony her father destroyed lasted less than 6 years before Anne Boleyn’s daughter who never married reigned for over 44 years as Elizabeth I. [Wikipedia: List of English monarchs]

Our vision is limited

From the perspective of history, it is almost unimaginable that Henry VIII changed the history of the United Kingdom for an heir that was gone in 6 years to then have his female offspring reign for over 50 years.

Futility in the machinations of man and the scandal it portends. You can only wonder how things might have been different if Henry VIII could have seen how the future would turn out. It can be said for bravery, intelligence, ability and regal nous, Elizabeth I was more a daughter of Anne Boleyn than of the insecurities of Henry VIII who after 6 wives and the murder of two, never really achieved the lasting aim of an heir with any longevity.

Mockery is history retold

An allegory lurks in that Catherine of Aragon might often time have feared that she might be killed by her husband who in many ways castigated, excoriated and dehumanised her, yet could not rid himself of her for the forces that secured her place as Queen and consort were more enduring than Henry VIII could find the normal channels to upend.

He had to arrogate to himself powers and dominions in establishing the Church of England, to secure himself the divorce or annulment he required to marry Anne Boleyn whose rapid rise was succeeded by a more precipitous fall at the axe of an executioner. She was hardly dead or mourned when Henry VIII married Jane Seymour. The prospects of a third wife can be quite limited in its historical value or context. History serves to mock the vulnerabilities of powerful men.

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