Henry VIII by Holbein, 1788
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger, engraved by Charles Sherwin, 1788.
Henry VIII (1491-1547) was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. His older brother Arthur was expected to inherit the crown upon their father's death, but he predeceased his father shortly after being married to Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536), when Henry was only ten years old. Arrangements were then made for the widowed Catherine to marry Henry. A papal dispensation was obtained and the couple was married June 11, 1509, not long after Henry ascended to the throne. Their marriage produced one living child, Mary I (1516-1558). Since the Tudor dynasty was rather new, Henry VIII feared that a daughter would not be able to sufficiently rule and became obsessed with procuring a son. When the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine, England broke from Rome setting the stage for the English Reformation. This allowed Henry to marry Anne Boleyn (c.1501-1536) on June I, 1533, after Thomas Cranmer declared his marriage to Catherine null and void. However his second marriage lasted only three years. Anne had only given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth I (1533-1603), and her stubborn nature and political involvement often put her at odds with the King. She was therefore executed on May 19, 1536. Since Catherine had died previously that year Henry was free to remarry whomever he wished.
On May 30, 1536, he married Jane Seymour (c.1509-1537). Jane gave birth to the long awaited for son, Edward VI (1537-1553) on October 12 the following year. Unfortunately Jane died shortly afterwards, most likely due to an infection. Henry would marry three more times, though none of those marriages produced any children. He married Anne of Cleves (1515-1557) on January 6, 1540, to form a political alliance with Cleves. However he was dissatisfied with the marriage and it was annulled six months later. Henry then married Catherine Howard (c.1518-1542) on July 28. They were only married a little over a year though, because information about Catherine's sexual history led to her being executed for adultery which when committed by a Queen was high treason. She was beheaded on February 13, 1542. Henry VIII final bride was Catherine Parr (1512-1548), who had been twice widowed before marrying Henry. She was a loving stepmother to Henry's children and brought about the reconciliation between the King and his daughters which restored them to the line of succession, behind their brother Edward. Henry VIII died at Whitehall Palace on January 28, 1547. Though he had been a healthy an athletic young man, he died overweight suffering from a number of ailments many of which were the result of a jousting accident in 1536. He was succeeded by his son Edward VI, who being only nine ruled under a regency council appointed by his father.
Though he is best remembered for his many wives and the role he played in establishing of the Church of England, his reign contained other lasting changes for the country. During his reign Henry created a permanent navy and expanded the number of ships from five to fifty-three. He also started a vast palace building campaign, increasing the countries palaces from twelve to fifty-five. These he then filled with tapestries, two thousand total, and other works of art making him an important patron for artists in England at the time. In 1541 the Kingdom of Ireland was established and Henry became the first monarch to bear the title King of Ireland. While his many wars and building projects were financially destructive they helped set the stage for future successes. The financial crisis was partially abated during the dissolution of the monarchies (1536-1541) when church wealth and property was seized by the crown and sold. This led to the creation of a land owning gentry that was tied to the crown strengthening the power of the monarch. All three of Henry's children ruled England as was set down in the Act of Succession 1544. Elizabeth I was the last Tudor monarch and her reign lasted forty-four years.
Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) was a German artist and printmaker who spent most of his career in either England or Switzerland. He is best known for the portraits he painted during his time spent at the court of Henry VIII. However his work also included many religious paintings and several book illustrations. Holbein received an invite to England after being recommended to Thomas More by his patron Desiderius Erasmus. While in England he was also patronized by Anne Boleyn. From 1535 onward he held the title of King's Painter. As a portraitist he was considered to be very precise in work, attempting to be as true to life as possible.
Charles Sherwin (c.1757-1792) was an English portrait engraver. He was the younger brother of artist John Keyse Sherwin. Charles occasionally assisted his brother with his pieces. He even completed several of John's portraits. In addition to collaborating with his brother, Sherwin completed several independent engraving projects. One such work was Bell's British Library, for which he engraved the plates.
Thomas Cadell (1742-1802) was a successful eighteenth century bookseller who published work by some of the most famous artists of his time. His publications included the works of Samuel Johnson and David Hume. He began his career as an apprentice to Andrew Millar in 1758. Six years later he was promoted to partner and he took over the business in 1767 when Millar died. Cadell was well liked and respected among his peers and he established a booksellers club that met regularly. He also served as a board member of several philanthropic institutions, the most notable being Foundling Hospital.
- Naomi Bean