Chapter Four: Henry’s Later Years.

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Chapter Four: Henry’s Later Years

Story of Henry VIII

In Henry’s time there were about 850 monasteries① in England and Wales. The religious orders② obeyed the Pope in Rome and not King Henry. The monasteries had rich treasures and a quarter of all the land in England! Henry needed money so he and his Lord Chancellor, Cromwell, decided to close the monasteries and take their treasures and land.

Between 1536 and 1539 Cromwell sent his men to inspect them. When they returned they said, “There is corruption in the monasteries! This was a good reason to close them.” Cromwell’s men took the rich treasures and gave them to the King. They sent away the monks and nuns. Some monasteries were destroyed and others were sold to the nobility. Many were transformed into beautiful houses. The land of the monasteries now belonged to King Henry, who became the richest monarch in Europe. With the money from the monasteries, Henry built castles and fortifications③ to protect the south coast of England. Deal Castle in Kent was the biggest fort on the coast. It was built in the form of a rose, the Tudor symbol. Henry also built bigger warships. England now had the most powerful navy in Europe. (Henry’s great warship the Mary Rose sank in 1545. In 1982 the remains of the ship were found, and now the Mary Rose can be seen at the Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth. ) Henry was now forty-eight. He was very fat and his health was not good.

① monasteries: 修道院。
② religious orders: 宗教团体。
③ fortifications: 防御工事。

He became short-tempered① and oppressive②. Everyone had to obey him. The Tudor court still attracted many artists and musicians. Hans Holbein the Younger was a great German artist. He was the King’s royal painter. He painted many splendid pictures of the royal family and the Tudor court. During the 1540s Henry built an extravagant new palace called Nonesuch Palace, in Surrey. A village was destroyed to build it, but it was never completed!

Henry’s political position in Europe became weak. Spain and France wanted to destroy him. He needed a strong ally③. Cromwell convinced Henry to marry a German princess called Anne of Cleves. Henry sent Holbein to Germany to paint her portrait. Holbein painted a lovely portrait of Anne, which convinced Henry to marry her. When she arrived in England Henry was horribly surprised! She was ugly and fat and some people said she looked like a horse. She didn’t speak English or like music. He was very angry with Cromwell, who was accused of treason and beheaded in 1540.

Henry married Anne for political reasons and divorced her seven months later in July.
Catherine Howard became Henry’s fifth wife in the same month (July 1540). She was only nineteen years old and very frivolous④. Catherine was unfaithful and Henry became furious. She was accused of treason and beheaded in 1542.

① short-tempered: 易发怒的。
② oppressive: 暴虐的。
③ ally: 盟国。
④ frivolous: 举止轻浮的。

At this point of his life Henry wanted a sincere companion and a nurse. He married his last wife, Catherine Parr, in 1543. She was a mature woman of thirty-one, who was gentle and well educated. (In Henry’s time most people did not live past forty-five!) Catherine brought Henry’s three children to court and took interest in their education. She was a kind and loving step-mother①. She also encouraged Henry to found Trinity College, a part of Oxford University. Henry’s last marriage was successful.

During his later years there were wars with Scotland and France. These wars cost Henry an enormous amount of money. At last he made peace with France in 1546.

Henry’s final years were tormented② by illness. He was obese③. He could not walk and was carried everywhere by servants. He had painful ulcers④ on his legs, severe headaches and several other illnesses. Catherine Parr nursed⑤ him patiently.

In his will⑥ he named his three children heirs to the throne. Henry remained a Catholic all his life. He died on 28 January 1547, and was buried at Windsor next to his third wife, Jane Seymour – the wife he loved the most.

① step-mother: 继母。
② tormented: 受折磨。
③ obese: 过度肥胖的。
④ ulcers: 溃疡。
⑤ nursed: 照顾。
⑥ will: 遗嘱。

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