So, what was Henry the VIII's problem anyway?

France has a Salic law, saying that the crown can’t be inherited by a female. England, however, has no such law. The males are placed first in the line of succession, but if a king has only daughters, the crown can fall to the eldest of them. Sons are preferred, especially since if a daughter inherited the throne, she would be subject to her husband’s will (that whole Elizabeth-not-marrying thing was unanticipated), but if a son took the throne, he would be doing the ruling.

If I remember correctly, she had had the pox at one point, and had horrible pox marks. The painter had painted her without those blemishes, and when she showed up, Henry was horrified to see that his intended wife of beautiful, clear skin was not as perfect as he had expected.

Catherine was Ferdinand/Isabella’s daughter, Charles V was the King of Spain at that point (and Holy Roman Emporer) and he was her nephew. It was probably more relevant that Charles had already occupied and sacked Rome in his reign that made the Pope Clement VII unwilling to defy him, rather than the family links between himself and Catherine.

No she didn’t, she died a week later from what was probably a post-natal infection. The whole “Nurse: we can save the mother or the child, Henry: let it be a son” thing is a widely-known myth.

Henry probably had syphillis by the time he was in his 40s which doesn’t help getting someone pregnant, and as lots of people have pointed out he had a number of bastard male children so he was clearly capable. Chalk it up to bad luck (but not to lack of trying).

The syphillis theory has been pretty much discounted by modern scholars. Henry’s medical accounts show no purchases of mercury, which was the standard treatment for syphillis at the time, nor did he have the symptoms associated with syphillis in the later stages. He did have an ulcer on his leg, but modern scholars believe that it was caused by a thrombosis in his leg vein which never properly healed.

I also have to note that we’re more interested in Henry’s predicament because of its effects. Many times a monarch was able to arrange something to preserve the dynasty. The idea was to keep the business in the family, so to speak, and thus avoid fighting, scheming, and other messiness.

Henry’s situation was enormously complicated. England was jockeying with both Spain and France for dominance, and, worse yet, Henry had led the country out of the Roman Catholic church. He was insistent on maintaining the government as he had set it up. So, he didn’t want to leave the country in weak or conflicted hands.

Also remember that his own ancestry was still in debate. He was only the second real Tudor king, and wary of possible power grabs from either the Plantagenats or anyone else.

In short, you had a single-minded absolutist ruler from a recent line who was desperate to have the ideal legacy. Unlike previous kings, we know a lot about him and his offspring. The conflicts that arose after his death were more related to fighting between nations and between religions.

Part of his problem was that the Tudors didn’t really have anybody to fall back on, if Henry VIII failed to produce a legitimate male heir.

His father, Henry VII, claimed the throne through right of conquest. Henry VII had no brothers or sisters- he was born after his father died, and his mother was something like 13 years old at the time. Henry VII had four children who lived long enough to marry: Arthur, Margaret, Henry, and Mary. Arthur died without any heirs. Margaret married the King of Scotland, and her son was King of Scotland (Margaret’s husband died while fighting the English, so it might have been a little chancy to have the King of Scotland be the King of England too at that point). Mary married the non-royal Charles Brandon, and her son died at age 19 (before Henry VIII died) with no heirs. There just weren’t a lot of fallback heirs to choose from in the Tudor family.

They couldn’t have easily gone back to the Lancasters or the Yorks, either. The Lancasters had died out with Henry VI’s son Edward in 1471, and with Richard III, Henry VII, and Henry VIII killing off people who could dispute their claims to the throne, there weren’t many Yorks left with a claim to the throne.

That is, of course, the problem with killing off your rivals for the throne- if you don’t produce an heir yourself, you aren’t left with much to fall back on.

I would make the point (re the OP) that Infant Mortality was astonishingly high and that needs to be taken into account for his “problem”.

If he were Henry the London Baker, rather than Henry VIII, having 10 kids, 4 living to adulthood, 2 living past 25, that would not be shocking in that day and age.

In Wales 25% of Babies died w/i a few days of birth and 25% did not live to their first Birthday. In England , even if we go to a 20%ish number not reaching their first birthday – that is for the Country as a whole ; London and the few other Cities had rates that were much, much higher. The Royal Babies were raised in Contact, literally from Birth, with scores of adults from all over the world.

Just as a matter of interest, I’d like to point out that Mary was first wed to the old French king, then upon his death, got married without Henry’s permission (a big no-no) to Charles Brandon.

She didn’t have any children with Louis XII, though.

They weren’t married long enough, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. He bragged that his pretty young bride inspired him to “cross the river three times” on his wedding night.

Some writers have included a tacit criticism of Princess Mary in the recounting of these events, because the king was known not to be in the best of health and if she didn’t actually encourage his frantic activities at the wedding celebrations, she didn’t discouage it, either.

One of my favorite lines from this time is in the letter that Charles Brandon sent Henry after he had married the new widow. Apparently, Mary threw a hissy fit when Brandon arrived to escort her back to England, and claimed that he was taking her back to be married off again. “She weeped as I never saw a woman weep,” Brandon said, and when Mary told him that if he loved her he’d better marry her now, or he’d never have another chance, he did. (With the mischevious assistance of the new king who felt it a fine joke on Henry.) “I have married her and lain with her heartily, insomuch that I fear lest she be with child.” Priceless. :smiley:

King Henry, of course, threw a royal fit. To soften the blow, Mary sent to him all the jewels given to her by the besotted old king Louis, including several pieces which belonged to the French crown jewels. (One of these pieces was the famous Mirror of Naples.) The new king was livid. He demanded they be returned. Henry, probably still resentful that the new French king had abetted his sister, sent back only a few small rings, and wore the Mirror in his new state portrait.