Henry VIII

Henry was the second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and was born at Greenwich Palace on 28th June 1491. His brother Arthur died and he succeeded his father as King in April 1509. Henry was very well educated and a talented musician and an author. His book refuting the heresies of Luther which he presented to the Pope gained him the new title Fidei Defensor (Defender of the Faith), which has been borne by all his successors. A far reaching consequence of the lengthy negotiations for his divorce from Katherine of Aragon led to his break with Rome, leading to the establishment of the Church of England.

His children Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I are all buried in Westminster Abbey as well as his first born infant son by Katherine, called Henry.


On 11th June 1509 he married his widowed sister in law Katherine of Aragon. In the east window of St Margaret's church Westminster, dated about 1526, there are kneeling figures of Henry and Katherine (her head has been replaced by a modern one in the window but the original can be seen in the new Galleries at the Abbey). After their famous divorce he married Anne Boleyn (beheaded), Jane Seymour (died), Anne of Cleves, who is buried in Westminster Abbey (divorced), Catherine Howard (beheaded), and Catherine Parr, who survived her husband.


The coronation of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon took place on Sunday 24th June 1509. The ceremony is illustrated in the mortuary roll of Abbot Islip dated 1532 in the Abbey's archives. The day before the king and queen had processed from the Tower of London through the City to Whitehall. On the morning of the coronation they made their way to the Palace of Westminster and walked from there to the Abbey in procession. The ceremony was performed by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. The queen sat on a lower chair than the king. Afterwards there was a magnificent banquet in Westminster Hall 'greater than any Caesar had known'. More days of feasting and jousting followed. Henry would later amend the Oath that he took at his coronation to reflect his views about the relationship of crown and church.

Only one other of his queens received a coronation – Anne Boleyn on 1st June 1533. Jane Seymour would probably also have had a coronation but the plague was raging at that time and it was not possible.


Henry died, after suffering from several ailments, on 28th January 1547 and was buried with his favourite wife Jane Seymour in St George's chapel, Windsor.

Katherine of Aragon is buried in Peterborough Cathedral. Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard are buried in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London. Catherine Parr married Thomas Seymour (brother of Queen Jane) and was buried at her residence at Sudeley Castle.

Further reading

Henry VIII by J.J. Scarisbrick, 1968

Man and Monarch Henry VIII, British Library exhibition catalogue edited by Susan Doran, 2009

Henry VIII. A European court in England, edited by D. Starkey, 1991

The drama of coronation... by Alice Hunt, 2008

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

For transcript of the Denizens Roll of 1544 held in the Abbey archives go to www.archive.org and choose texts and search denization. Vol.8 of the Huguenot Society publication by William Page will then show, with options to search for names inside

An account of his funeral is kept at the College of Arms in London

The dissolution of the monasteries - a new history by James C.Clark, 2021

The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the remaking of the English Church by G.W.Barnard, 2007

Prince Arthur, the Tudor king who never was. The untold story of Henry VIII's elder brother by S. Cunningham, 2016



28th June 1491


28th January 1547


24th June 1509



Black and white engraving of Henry VIII, showing scenes and symbols of his reign in various panels
Henry VIII (engraving)

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Depiction of Henry VIII's coronation: Henry seated on the Coronation Chair, priests and officials around him
Coronation of Henry VII as depicted on the Islip Roll

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Stained glass depiction of Katherine of Aragon, gold beads and a crucifix around her neck
Katherine of Aragon glass panel

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster