Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Henry VIII: The Saga Continues: In Search of Heir Balls
Warning: This is a continuation of the previous post. If you have not read the last one you may want to check it out so you know what the hell is going on. Or not if you are the type that reads the end of the book first. Or the middle in this case.
We resume our story in the year of our lord 1509, with our hero Henry VIII taking the throne after the demise of his father. Young Henry is saddled with a Spanish wife he doesn't really want - Catherine of Aragon - and a group of advisors led by the devious Cardinal Wolsey who try to dominant the young monarch and control English policy. Henry was still a teenager (18) and more interested in whoring (thus his nickname Hammerin' Hank) and hunting in his boundless private woods than in ruling England during these years and for the most part allowed Wolsey to make most of the important decisions. Check him out in the upper right hand corner there - he is definitely scheming something, that old, dirty bastard. I don't trust him for a second. Another one of Henry's advisers was Sir Thomas More. More wrote the book Utopia, about what life would be like if everything on Earth was perfect. I have had some fantasies like that myself, but there is no way in hell I would put them in a book.
The most important task Henry needed to accomplish as king was to produce an heir. A male heir. Back then nobody listened to anything a woman had to say because Gloria Steinem had not been invented yet. Therefore having a queen would be no good. Unfortunately, Queen Catherine of Aragon (you will see why I use her whole name later, these aristocrat-types aren't too creative with names) was only able to produce one child who lived to be an adult - Bloody Mary. Although useful to alcoholics who need a beverage in the morning, a Bloody Mary was not what Henry was looking for in a son due to her unfortunate lack of a penis.
Although considered a serious manho by most historians, Henry was married to Catherine for the majority of his roughly forty year reign. After fifteen years of marriage to Catherine, the king started to think their marriage was cursed, they had no prince and Cathy (as I call her, we are tight) was starting to get a bit haggard in the age department and was unlikely to be popping out any more children. Henry discovered around this time that a chapter in the Bible, Leviticus, says that anyone that marries his brother's widow will be doomed to have a barren marriage (conveniently forgetting the existence of Mary). Of course, the Catholic Church knew this fact when they let him get married, but conveniently forgot it since they did not want to witness the Hulk-like lunatic rage England and Spain, the main beneficiaries of the union, were capable of when you got them wifebeater-tearing mad.
Mr. VIII, with the help of Wolsey, decided to ask the Catholic Church for permission to have his marriage to Catherine annulled on the grounds that he had been unknowingly committing incest for a mere fifteen years. Whoops! The Catholic Church, much like any Washington bureaucrat worth his salt, took seven years to come up with a decision on the matter. Virtually imprisoned by the more powerful Spanish emperor Charles V, the pope chose to deny the request.
Henry was so upset upon hearing of the decision that he chose to take an unheard of step. He beheaded all Catholics. Actually, that is in fact not true (although only barely so), but it would have been cool as well as helping him to work through his anger management issues by giving him a proper direction to vent his uncontrollable rage. Seriously though, Henry chose to sever ties between England and the Catholic Church in Rome. He had always wanted to wear that funny hat the Pope had and now he could. In addition, the coffers could use some filling so all of the monasteries and other various properties that had previously belonged to the church now belonged to Henry. All holy men in the land had to take a break from their all-male orgies and swear fealty to Henry as the head of the new "Anglican" church. Those priests who failed to do so had their heads chopped off and used for to decorate England for the Anglican church grand opening . Sir Thomas More was one of those executed for this reason. Way to stand up for what you believe, Thomas! The Catholics will rise again, no doubt.
Most importantly, though, Henry was able to get his annulment from Catherine. The new archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, made it happen. The decision making process went something like this:
King Henry: Can I get divorced from that Spanish wench
Cranmer: Hell yea you can - everything you say is so awesomely true it causes God to weep (thus the current rainstorm). Oh, and please don't kill me.
King Henry: That is megasweet, let's get it on
Henry already had a new target for his kingly phallus in mind, a young hottie by the name of Anne Boleyn. Her reign would be a tumultuous and exciting 1000 days long - at least according to the movie I used to do my research.