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Six Wives of Henry Viii

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Weir, Allison .The Six Wives of Henry the VIII. New York, New York:

Grove Weidenfeld Press, 1961.

The Six Wives of Henry the VIII is a non-fiction, royal biography, consisting of 643 pages, with chronological and genealogical tables for all the families involved. There are pictures of Henry the VIII, his wives, children and bibliographical references and index. The book is a hardbound book originally published in Great Britain in 1961 by the Bodley Head, London.

Allison Weir, a Tudor scholar who authored this book, researched early 1500 letters, biographies, personal letters, memoirs, account books and diplomatic reports on Henry and each of his wives before writing this book. She explains the political, social and religious pressures that influenced Henry's choices of wives and of the women who bore his children out of wedlock.

Most of the book is devoted to Henry VII first two wives: Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Catherine married Henry in order to cement an alliance with Spain against France, England's mortal enemy. Catherine was Catholic, and as long as she was a queen, so was England. But as time wore on, Henry grew tired and upset with Catherine for not producing him an heir.

Henry began to fall in love with Anne Boleyn. She was ambitious and manipulative and was also was also immune to Henry's charm, and spurned him at every turn. Henry was not used to being ignored, which made him want Anne even more, so he became obsessed with having her. Anne Boleyn is described as a very shrewd negotiator. She finally submitted to Henry, but on one condition: that she be made his wife and queen.

In order to marry Anne, Henry had to end his marriage with Catherine. He tried to have it annulled and Catherine refused. He tried to negotiate with the Pope to have the marriage dissolved on suspicious religious grounds. The Pope refused. Failing that, Henry took matters into his own hands. He declared himself the supreme head of the Church of England, and severed relations with Rome. He then married Anne, and divorced, and later exiled, a very bitter Catherine.

Henry soon grew tired of Anne because she, too, failed to produce an heir; and her pro-Reform agenda was making her a political liability. The decision was made to get rid of her and she was executed.

The rest of the book is devoted

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