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A king of England in the early sixteenth century. With the support of his Parliament, Henry established himself as head of the Christian Church in England, in place of the pope, after the pope refused to allow his marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be dissolved. Since that time, except for a few years of rule under Henry's daughter Mary I, who was a Roman Catholic, England has been officially a Protestant nation.
In his personal life, Henry was known for his corpulence and for his six wives. He divorced the first, Catherine of Aragon. He beheaded the second, Anne Boleyn, for allegedly being unfaithful to him. His third wife, Jane Seymour, died soon after giving birth to a son. He divorced his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, and beheaded his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, also for alleged infidelity. His sixth wife, Catherine Parr, survived him. He also had his close friend and adviser Thomas More executed because More would not support Henry's declaration that he was head of the church in England. Henry was the father of King Edward VI and of Queen Elizabeth I, as well as Mary I.
a title belonging to the sovereign of England in the same way as Christianissimus ("most Christian") belonged to the king of France. The title was first conferred by Pope Leo X on Henry VIII (Oct. 11, 1521) as a reward for the king's pamphlet Assertio septem sacramentorum adversus Martinum Lutherum ("Declaration of the Seven Sacraments Against Martin Luther"), written against Luther. When Henry broke with the papacy, Pope Paul III deprived him of his designation, but the title was restored to the king by Parliament in 1544 and is still used by his successors on the English throne. The abbreviation Fid. Def. or the letters F.D. have been regularly on the coinage from the time of George I