Henry VIII of England
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Henry VIII (28 June 1491 - 28 January 1547) was King of England who introduced Protestantism to England. The theory that Henry suffered from syphilis has been disregarded by most serious historians. Syphilis was a well-known disease in Henry's time, and although his contemporary Francis I of France was treated for it, the notes left from Henry's physicians do not indicate that the English king was. A more recent and credible theory suggests that Henry's medical symptoms, and those of his older sister Margaret Tudor, are characteristic of untreated Type II diabetes.
Execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn
Though Anne Boleyn was instrumental in helping to bring about the radical religious changes, the King's relationship with his Queen quickly soured. After the Princess Elizabeth's birth, Queen Anne had at least two pregnancies that ended in either miscarriage or stillbirth, resurrecting old frustrations that Henry had experienced with Catherine. Determined to father a male heir, and perhaps encouraged by Thomas Cromwell, Henry had Anne arrested on charges of using witchcraft to trap him into marrying her, of having adulterous relationships with five other men, of incest with her brother George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, of injuring the King and of conspiring to kill him, which amounted to treason. The charges were most likely fabricated. The court trying the case was presided over by Anne's own uncle, Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk. In May 1536, the Court condemned Anne and her brother to death, either by burning at the stake or by decapitation, whichever the King pleased. The other four men Queen Anne had allegedly been involved with were to be hanged, drawn and quartered; however, their sentences were ultimately commuted to decapitation. Anne and her brother George were also beheaded soon thereafter. At her final Mass, the Queen publicly swore to her innocence in the presence of a priest and various witnesses. She was also charged with the attempted poisoning of Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of King Henry the VIII.