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KING HENRY VIII of England and Ireland, the third child and second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, was born on the 28th of June 1491 and, like all the Tudor monarchs except Henry VII, at Greenwich Palace. His two brothers, Prince Arthur and Edmund, Duke of Somerset, and two of his sisters predeceased their father; Henry VIII was the only son, and Margaret Tudor, afterwards Queen of Scotland, and Mary Tudor, afterwards Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk, were the only daughters who survived. Henry VIII is said, on authority which has not been traced farther back than Paolo Sarpi, to have been destined for the church; but the story is probably a mere surmise from his theological accomplishments, and from his earliest years high secular posts such as the viceroyalty of Ireland were conferred upon the child. He was the first English monarch to be educated under the influence of the Renaissance, and his tutors included the poet Skelton; he became an accomplished scholar, linguist, musician and athlete, and when by the death of his brother Arthur in 1502 and of his father on the 22nd of April 1509 Henry VIII succeeded to the throne, his accession was hailed with universal acclamation.

He had been betrothed to his brother's widow Catherine of Aragon, and in spite of the protest which he had been made to register against the marriage, and of the doubts expressed by Pope Julius II and Archbishop Warham as to its validity, it was completed in the first few months of his reign. This step was largely due to the pressure brought to bear by Catherine's father Ferdinand upon Henry VIII's council; he regarded England as a tool in his hands and Catherine as his resident ambassador.

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