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YouTube Gold: A Bit Of Digital Magic For The Wives Of Henry VIII

Pretty amazing application of technology

505 years later, the Vatican opens its secret archives and presents the amazing document presaging the Anglican schism: the letter asking for the annulment of King Henry VIII’s marriage in Rome, Italy on June 23, 2009.
Henry VIII of England
Photo by Eric VANDEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The Tudors ruled England from 1485 until 1603 which is not that long, really, just 118 years. But they were immensely consequential.

Henry VI took England out of the War of the Roses and brought a level of stability back.

His son Henry became Henry VIII when his brother died before he could assume the crown.

Henry VIII longed for a male heir and burned through six wives looking for one.

He first married his brother’s Catherine of Aragon but had it annulled after she didn't give birth to a boy (she did have one son but he died in infancy). This led to the split between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

He next married Anne Boleyn whom he beheaded three years later for alleged adultery.

Jane Seymour died in childbirth.

The next marriage, to Anne of Cleves was arranged politically and Henry agreed after seeing a painting of her. Unfortunately in person she was not at all to his liking so he ended that one too, unconsummated, although he at least allowed her to live (she outlived him and all of his wives).

Catherine Howard was beheaded for alleged adultery

Catherine Parr was generally seen as a positive for Henry but he didn't live long after married her.

The great irony is that despite his manic attempt to produce a male heir, his daughter with Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth, became one of the most formidable monarchs in European history.

This video, applying modern technology to very old paintings, brings all of his wives to life. You get a clear sense of these women’s faces. You can never get a sense of how they suffered though. Even putting the volatile Henry aside, none of their lives were particularly simple or pleasant.