Henry VIII is one of the best known English monarchs. Although a great athlete, strong soldier and accomplished Renaissance prince in his youth, it is mainly for his marital exploits that he is remembered.
Henry married six times in an increasingly desperate bid to produce a male heir to secure the English throne for the Tudor dynasty. His first wife, Katherine of Aragon (June 1509-May 1533) had previously been married to Henry\'s elder brother (Arthur, Prince of Wales) and although she produced a son for the king in January 1511, he only survived seven weeks.By 1533, Katherine had given Henry a daughter, Mary, but no further male offspring. In January 1533, before his divorce from Katherine was formalised, Henry secretly married his second wife, Anne Boleyn (January 1533-May 1536). She gave birth to Elizabeth in September 1533 but was beheaded in May 1536, accused of adultery.Henry\'s third wife, Jane Seymour (May 1536-October 1537), produced the longed for male heir - the future Edward VI - but died following complications brought on by the birth. Anne of Cleves (January 1540-July 1540), a Protestant German princess, was not the bride Henry had hoped for and was divorced quickly - shortly before his marriage to his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, the niece of the Duke of Norfolk (Henry\'s chief minister).As Henry grew older, he became more and more overweight and more and more diseased. By the end of his reign, it is highly unlikely that Henry would have been able to produce any children by his wives.Catherine Howard (July 1540-February 1542) was also beheaded for adultery and Henry\'s final wife, Catherine Parr (July 1542-January 1547) was more of a nursemaid for the king than a bedding partner. She survived Henry.