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  • He was a powerful king whose break with the church of Rome

  • would forever change the course of English history.

  • But was he a charismatic reformer or a bullying tyrant?

  • Find out on History versus Henry VIII.

  • Judge: Order, order. Now, who do we have here? Looks like quite the dashing fellow.

  • Defense: Indeed, your honour. This is Henry VIII, the acclaimed king

  • who reformed England's religion and government

  • and set it on course to becoming a modern nation.

  • Prosecutor: I beg to differ. This is a cruel, impulsive, and extravagant king

  • who had as little regard for his people as he did for his six wives.

  • Judge: Six wives?

  • Defense: Your honor, Henry's first marriage was arranged for him

  • when he was only a child.

  • He only married Catherine of Aragon to strengthen England's alliance with Spain.

  • Prosecutor: An alliance he was willing to toss aside with no regard for the nation.

  • Defense: Henry had every regard for the nation.

  • It was imperative to secure the Tudor dynasty by producing a male heir

  • something Catherine failed to do in over twenty years of marriage.

  • Prosecutor: It takes two to make an heir, your honor.

  • Defense: Ahem. Regardless, England needed a new queen to ensure stability,

  • but the Pope refused to annul the union and let the king remarry.

  • Judge: Sounds like quite a pickle. Can't argue with the Pope.

  • Prosecutor: And yet that's exactly what the king decided to do.

  • He uprooted the country's religious foundations

  • and broke the Church of England away from Rome,

  • leading to centuries of strife.

  • Defense: All Henry did was give the Church honest domestic leadership.

  • He freed his subjects from the corrupt Roman Catholic establishment.

  • And by rejecting the more radical changes of the Protestant reformation,

  • he allowed his people to preserve most of their religious traditions.

  • Prosecutor: Objection! The Church had been a beloved and popular institution

  • that brought comfort and charity to the masses.

  • Thanks to Henry, church property was seized;

  • hospitals closed, and precious monastic libraries lost forever,

  • all to enrich the Crown.

  • Defense: Some of the funds were used to build new cathedrals

  • and open secular schools.

  • And it was necessary for England to bring its affairs

  • under its own control rather than Rome's.

  • Prosecutor: You mean under Henry's control.

  • Defense: Not true. All of the king's major reforms went through Parliament.

  • No other country of the time allowed its people such a say in government.

  • Prosecutor: He used Parliament as a rubber stamp for his own personal will.

  • Meanwhile he ruled like a tyrant, executing those he suspected of disloyalty.

  • Among his victims were the great statesman and philosopher Thomas More

  • once his close friend and advisor

  • and Anne Boleyn, the new queen Henry had torn the country apart to marry.

  • Judge: He executed his own wife?

  • Defense: Thatwasn't King Henry's initiative.

  • She was accused of treason in a power struggle

  • with the King's minister, Thomas Cromwell.

  • Prosecutor: The trial was a sham

  • and she wouldn't have been convicted without Henry's approval.

  • Besides, he wasn't too upset by the outcome -

  • he married Jane Seymour just 11 days later!

  • Defense: A marriage that, I note, succeeded in producing a male heir

  • and guaranteeing a stable succession

  • though the new queen tragically died in childbirth.

  • Prosecutor: This tragedy didn't deter him

  • from an ill conceived fourth marriage to Anne of Cleves,

  • which Henry then annulled on a whim and used as an excuse to execute Cromwell.

  • As if that weren't enough, he then married Catherine Howard

  • – a cousin of Anne Boleynbefore having her executed too.

  • Defense: She was engaged in adultery to which she confessed!

  • Regardless, Henry's final marriage to Catherine Parr

  • was actually very successful.

  • Prosecutor: His sixth! It only goes to show he was an intemperate king

  • who allowed faction and intrigue to rule his court,

  • concerned only with his own pleasure and grandiosity.

  • Defense: That grandiosity was part of the king's role as a model for his people.

  • He was a learned scholar and musician who generously patronized the arts,

  • as well as being an imposing warrior and sportsman.

  • And the lavish tournaments he hosted

  • enhanced England's reputation on the world stage.

  • Prosecutor: And yet both his foreign and domestic policies were a disaster.

  • His campaigns in France and his brutal invasion of Scotland drained the treasury,

  • and his attempt to pay for it by debasing the coinage led to constant inflation.

  • The lords and landowners responded by removing access to common pastures

  • and turning the peasant population into beggars.

  • Defense: Beggars who would soon become yeomen farmers.

  • The enclosures made farming more efficient, and created a labor surplus

  • that laid the foundation for the Industrial Revolution.

  • England would never have become the great power that it did without them

  • and without Henry.

  • Judge: Well, I think no matter what,

  • we can all agree he looks great in that portrait.

  • A devout believer who broke with the Church.

  • A man of learning who executed scholars.

  • A king who brought stability to the throne,

  • but used it to promote his own glory,

  • Henry VIII embodied all the contradictions of monarchy

  • on the verge of the modern era.

  • But separating the ruler from the myth is all part of putting history on trial.

He was a powerful king whose break with the church of Rome

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B2 US TED-Ed henry prosecutor defense king england

History vs. Henry VIII - Mark Robinson and Alex Gendler

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    詹士緯 posted on 2018/12/16
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