Next year, I will be reading the Wolf Hall Trilogy, by Hilary Mantel. During this time, I want to learn more about the sociopolitical landscape of the time of Henry VIII, both in England as well as world events that might also shape this vital time in history. I will start by listening to this 24 lecture series about Henry VIII.
The image of Henry VIII is more recognizable, even to Americans, than any other King. He may not have been well-loved, but his history has a certain allure. Henry VIII reigned for 38 years (1509–1547). There is much popular culture surrounding Henry VIII which started with Shakespeare’s play. The popularity of this play throughout the following centuries give the impression of a powerful, influential king. In the 20th century, King Henry VIII was reimagined yet again: Charles Laughton’s Oscar winning performance in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), Anne of a Thousand Days (1970) with Richard Burton, and the 1972 BBC television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII.
(The lecture continues as a description of what will occur in the rest of the course.)
Out of my own research, I’d like to note some other things that are going on in the world during and slightly before Henry VIII’s reign. I found this information here.
First black slaves in America brought to Spanish colony of Santo Domingo.
Leonardo da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo sculpts the David (1504).
St. Peter’s Church started in Rome; designed and decorated by such artists and architects as Bramante, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, and Bernini before its completion in 1626.
Henry VIII ascends English throne. Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Balboa becomes the first European to encounter the Pacific Ocean. Machiavelli writes The Prince.
Turks conquer Egypt, control Arabia. Martin Luther posts his 95 theses denouncing church abuses on church door in Wittenberg—start of the Reformation in Germany.
Ulrich Zwingli begins Reformation in Switzerland. Hernando Cortes conquers Mexico for Spain. Charles I of Spain is chosen Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sets out to circumnavigate the globe.
Luther excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Suleiman I (“the Magnificent”) becomes Sultan of Turkey, invades Hungary (1521), Rhodes (1522), attacks Austria (1529), annexes Hungary (1541), Tripoli (1551), makes peace with Persia (1553), destroys Spanish fleet (1560), dies (1566). Magellan reaches the Pacific, is killed by Philippine natives (1521). One of his ships under Juan Sebastián del Cano continues around the world, reaches Spain (1522).
Verrazano, sailing under the French flag, explores the New England coast and New York Bay.
Troops of the Holy Roman Empire attack Rome, imprison Pope Clement VII—the end of the Italian Renaissance. Castiglione writes The Courtier. The Medici family expelled from Florence.
Pizarro marches from Panama to Peru, kills the Inca chieftain, Atahualpa, of Peru (1533). Machiavelli’s The Prince published posthumously.
Reformation begins as Henry VIII makes himself head of English Church after being excommunicated by Pope. Sir Thomas More executed as traitor for refusal to acknowledge king’s religious authority. Jacques Cartier sails up the St. Lawrence River, basis of French claims to Canada.
Henry VIII executes second wife, Anne Boleyn. John Calvin establishes Reformed and Presbyterian form of Protestantism in Switzerland, writes Institutes of the Christian Religion. Danish and Norwegian Reformations. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment.
John Knox leads Reformation in Scotland, establishes Presbyterian church there (1560).
Publication of On the Revolution of Heavenly Bodies by Polish scholar Nicolaus Copernicus—giving his theory that the earth revolves around the sun.
Council of Trent to meet intermittently until 1563 to define Catholic dogma and doctrine, reiterate papal authority.
Ivan IV (“the Terrible”) crowned as czar of Russia, begins conquest of Astrakhan and Kazan (1552), battles nobles (boyars) for power (1564), kills his son (1580), dies, and is succeeded by his weak and feeble-minded son, Fyodor I.