Henry 8

In 1514, in the parish of Hampton, Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York began building a magnificent palace on the north bank of the River Thames. In 1525 he gave the palace to Henry VIII in a desperate bid to win royal favour, however he continued to live there until 1529 when Henry eventually took possession of the 1000 roomed palace.   Henry made many additions to the palace and most of the Tudor parts that remain in modern times were built by him. Henry enlarged and rebuilt his own apartments, parts of the kitchens, the Chapel Royal, replaced most of the Great Hall and added tennis courts. Henry also laid out the overall plan for the gardens at Hampton Court, the basic structure of which is still in evidence today. Henry VIII spent three of his honeymoons there, as did his daughter Mary I when she married Philip of Spain.

Henry VIII is one of the best known of English monarchs; mainly because he had six wives but also because of his larger than life character, political demands and his desperate need to produce a healthy male heir. For all his efforts, only three legitimate children survived, just one of which was a boy, Edward.
Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon for over 20 years. Catherine was the widow of Henry’s older brother, Arthur. In 1502, Arthur died at the age of 15. His death thrust all his duties upon his younger brother, Henry, who then became Prince of Wales. Henry VII renewed his efforts to seal a marital alliance between England and Spain, by offering his second son in marriage to Prince Arthur's widow, Catherine, the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.

For the new Prince of Wales to marry his brother's widow, a dispensation from the Pope was normally required to overrule the impediment of affinity because, as told in the book of Leviticus, "If a brother is to marry the wife of a brother they will remain childless”. Still, both the English and Spanish parties agreed that an additional...