Henry VIII (1491–1547) was one of England’s most famous kings. During his 38-year reign, this Tudor monarch is mostly remembered for marrying six times and for starting the English Reformation, which turned England into a protestant country. Learn more about this clever, handsome and popular king who won the hearts of the English people, but was also seen as a bully and a tyrant. Then use our printable resources below to test your findings.
- Henry’s three children – Edward, Mary and Elizabeth – all grew up to become Tudor monarchs (Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I).
- Henry had an extravagant lifestyle and died owing a lot of money. During his lifetime, he built (or altered) over 50 palaces and royal houses, including St James’s Palace and Hampton Court.
- Use this rhyme to remember what happened to Henry’s six wives: ‘Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived.’
A Quote from Henry VIII
“Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed.”
A short biography of Henry VIII
Henry VIII was born in 1491 in Greenwich Palace, England, to King Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York. Henry had an older brother, Arthur, and two sisters, Mary and Margaret.
As a young prince, Henry had a privileged education. He learnt many languages and could sing and play instruments. He also loved sport and hunting. But his life changed dramatically at the age of ten, when his 15-year-old brother Arthur died, leaving Henry next in line to the throne.
Seven years later, in 1509, Henry’s father died, and Henry became King of England. He was just 17 years old. In need of a wife, he decided to marry Arthur’s widow, a Spanish princess called Catherine of Aragon, who had only been married to Arthur for a few months before he died. Henry needed the Pope’s permission, however, because the Bible said a man should not marry his brother’s wife.
Henry was a handsome, clever king and loved hosting expensive parties. But he didn’t like people disagreeing with him! During his reign, he greatly expanded the power of the monarch, which meant he could order people who fell out of favour to be imprisoned, or even executed!
Henry and Catherine were married for nearly 24 years, but they only had one surviving child, a girl called Mary. Henry became increasingly desperate for a son to inherit his throne. Frustrated at his situation, he fell in love with one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting (assistants), Anne Boleyn.
Henry wanted to divorce Catherine so he could marry Anne, but the Pope refused. So Henry took matters into his own hands! He split from the Catholic Church, creating a separate Church of England, of which he called himself the Supreme Head. He then passed a law that gave the death penalty to anyone who questioned his authority, and set about divorcing Catherine to marry Anne.
Followers of the new church were known as Protestants (while Catholics followed the Roman Catholic Church). In the years that followed, there was much unrest between the two groups and religion in England changed forever. Henry also began to close Catholic convents and monasteries, taking their land and wealth.
Henry was still desperate for a son, and when Anne only produced a daughter, Elizabeth, Henry had Anne executed! He married his next wife, Jane Seymour, just a few days later. Jane was one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting. Together they had a son called Edward, but Jane tragically died days later due to complications from childbirth.
Henry went on to have three more wives. He married Anne of Cleves, a German princess whom he had never met, but he didn’t like her at all and decided to divorce her. Next came Catherine Howard, another of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting, who was just 17. But when she fell in love with someone else, Henry had her executed. Henry was married to his last wife, Catherine Parr, for four years until his death.
Henry is also remembered for increasing the size of the navy, for uniting Wales and England, for declaring himself King of Ireland and for going to war with France.
In 1536, Henry had an accident while jousting and wounded his leg. Afterwards, he was unable to exercise and – thanks to his extravagant love of food – became very overweight. A painful ulcer on his leg also made him rather bad tempered! He died in 1547, aged 55, leaving his son to become King Edward VI at just nine years of age. Henry is buried at Windsor Castle next to Jane Seymour, the wife who tragically gave her life to provide his son and heir.
Our Henry VIII Resources
These notebooking pages will come in useful when you are learning about Henry VIII. Use them for note-taking, writing projects and fact collecting...
Here are three of our clever origami booklets (folding instructions here) dedicated to the wives of King Henry VIII. One has pictures and dates, one has pictures, dates and facts, and one has just pictures and has been left blank for your own notes.
Henry VIII changed history when he divorced Catherine of Aragon. Can the kids imagine they are Henry writing a letter to Cardinal Wolsey about why he wants to annul his first marriage?
This interesting history worksheet asks the kids to imagine they are Thomas Cromwell writing a letter to Henry VIII about the benefits of the dissolution of the monasteries.
Here's a fun drawing activity with a historical twist! When Henry's third wife (Jane Seymour) died, he was sent paintings of noble women from around Europe to look at. Can the children draw a picture of a potential new bride for Henry in the ornate frame?
Can the children do some research on the advisors of Henry VIII and write about them and their fates on this worksheet?
There were huge changes in England during the reign of Henry VIII. Can the children compare England in 1509 with life after the changes in 1547? We have two versions of this worksheet, blank and lined.
Henry VIII lived at Hampton Court Palace for part of his time, and because it still exists it is probably the best known of his royal palaces. Here's a colouring page.
Here is the front and back of a coin from Henry VIII's reign, showing the king's head. Colour in, cut out and fold - or use as the covers of a little booklet on this most famous of Tudor kings!
This is an outline colouring page taken from one of the most famous of Henry VIII portraits. Doesn't he look splendid?
Here is a rather severe colouring page / portrait of Henry VIII, which is particularly interesting because of the detail of his clothes and hat.
This colouring page of Henry VIII is definitely for younger children, and is based on our "learn to draw Henry VIII" printable. It has simple outlines, so is perfect for cutting out for your project work.
Ask the kids to read about perhaps the most famous King of England, Henry VIII, then answer the questions about the text at the end...
This worksheet asks the kids to put themselves in the position of Henry VIII during an event in his life and to write a diary entry from his perspective.
We've chosen four events from the life and reign of Henry VIII and turned them into newspaper writing prompts to help inspire the kids to get writing! They can choose their favourite or even try them all!
We've managed to condense the eventful life and reign of one of England's most famous kings, Henry VIII into a two-page fact sheet. A perfect starting point if you're learning about this famous Tudor monarch.
It might have taken a brave person to interview Henry VIII, but if the famous Tudor king was on a talk show, what would the children ask him?
If there had been newspapers in print at the time of Henry VIII he would have given them plenty to write about! Can the children choose one of the events in the life of the King and write about it on our newspaper writing prompt template?
Our simple poster of Henry VIII - aimed at younger children - is fun to display in the classroom but also makes a great insert or cover for a project. We've given him simple outlines, too, in case you want to cut him out.
"Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed." Can the children write about what they think this quote by Henry VIII means, and rewrite it in their own words?
Use one of these story paper sheets to write about Henry VIII. Designed to appeal to younger children, we have both handwriting lines and normal lines, as well as a simplified image to colour in.
Our Henry VIII story paper featuring a portrait of the famous King of England is perfect for a Tudor history project. Or write a story set in Tudor times?
Henry VIII had one of the most eventful lives out of all the British monarchs. Use this timeline to fill in some of the important events during his life and reign.
There are 25 words to find in this challenging Henry VIII word search grid, including the names of all six of his wives!
Use this simple worksheet about Henry VIII to encourage some fact finding (and writing) about this most charismatic of Tudor kings!
This simple worksheet is a fun introduction to Henry VIII and is ideal for younger kids. Choose from colour, or black and white versions below.
Here's a writing page for your Henry VIII projects with our younger-style Henry VIII illustration. You can download it in colour or black and white.
Here's a fun activity that will help the children remember all about Henry VIII - learn to draw him! This simplified drawing uses easy shapes and a step by step method which will help the children recreate a drawing of the king that they can be proud of!
The kids need to do a little research on this fascinating family picture of Henry VIII for this worksheet. Who is in the painting and why do you think Henry commisioned it? Also, can they find out what is wrong with the painting?
Our simple Tudor Family Tree printable shows the Tudor family - which had arguably three of the strongest monarchs ever to sit on the English throne: Henry VII, his son Henry VIII, and his daughter Elizabeth I.
Here's a Tudor history worksheet with a difference! The rhyme "Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived" tells the story of King Henry VIII and his many young wives. Can the kids match the wives to their place in the rhyme?