Was Henry VIII a good king?

As part of our 'History Extra explains' series, leading historians answer the burning questions you were too afraid to ask...

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Was Henry VIII a good king?

The success of Henry’s reign is mixed. Economically, England flourished, partially at the expense of countless monasteries and religious houses. But Henry was also a patron of the arts and humanist learning, and was a driving force behind an enthusiastic building campaign.

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He also fortified England, building an impressive navy that would impact the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I. But it is perhaps his break with papal authority and his six marriages for which he is best known.

The break with Rome arguably gave England a sense of national identity, and Henry’s numerous wives and matrimonial dramas have captured our imaginations.

Lauren Mackay is the author of Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and his Six Wives through the Life and Writings of the Spanish Ambassador, Eustace Chapuys (Amberley Publishing).

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