History has suggested many explanations for the sequence of dramatic events that were the reign of King Henry VIII. From the brutal judicial murders ofEmpson and Dudley; through the early wars; through the spectacles of Renaissance diplomacy and theField of Cloth of Gold; through the King’s Great Matter and the Royal Supremacy; to the very last strike from his deathbed against his closest noble ducal allies in the house of Howard – Henry Tudor never lost his capacity to surprise. But of the all the explanations history suggests oddly the most satisfying one is wholly the king’s own…the quest for a legitimate male heir.
Henry VIII was a most dutiful monarch. He did his duty to his wife; he did his duty by the church he defended from heresy – as the Pope himself acknowledged in awarding him the personal soubriquet ‘Fidei Defensor’; and he did his duty by the realm – enlarging its prestige and influence.
In return the king had expected his due from God – a son and heir.…continued here