Edexcel B3: Henry VIII and his ministers


1: Henry VIII Renaissance Prince


England in 1509


  • Henry became king on the death of his father Henry VII. Henry VII had become king in 1485 after defeating and killing Richard III in battle.
  • Henry VII had ruled harshly; he had wanted to end the Wars of the Roses that had been fought in the second half of the fifteenth century.
  • The nobility were kept under control and banned from building up private armies.
  • Henry Vii had executed his rivals and raised taxes to make England as strong as possible. When he died, he left Henry VIII £300,000, which was a huge sum.
  • A highly educated young man of 17 replaced an old, ill, harsh and suspicious king.
  • In 1509, Henry married Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his older brother Prince Arthur. A few weeks later they were crowned in Westminster Abbey.
  • Henry VIII represented hopes of reform and change in government and society. 
  • In the sixteenth century, the king was his own prime minister, although Henry VII had appointed men to serve under him.


Henry's court


  • Henry VIII had been very well educated. He could read and speak Latin and French and could compose music. He was tall and athletic and took part in jousts and wrestling.
  • He enjoyed hunting, sports, feasting, music, intellectual pursuits and the affairs of the court.
  • He wanted to show that he was quite different from his father and encouraged the nobility to come to court.
  • He wanted his court to be the centre of attention. He was prepared to spend money on entertainments, which his father had rarely done.
  • Henry was a patron of the arts. He encouraged composers and attracted the painter Hans Holbein to come to England.