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Famous Wills: King Henry VIII Part I

As far as kings go, Henry VIII is one of the most famous rulers in history who earned a reputation for bending politics to meet his personal desires. In this article, you will encounter the details regarding his last days and last wishes for the afterlife.

Henry VIII was not only the second Tudor king of England, but also regarded as one of the strongest monarchs that the people had seen. His last will and testament was written on December 30, 1546. He would die less than a month later at the age of 55 years old. At the time of his death, the king was suffering from painful leg ulcers , most likely the result of syphilis. The wounds were so bad that they had to be tended to multiple times a day.

As the disease progressed, his legs showed the signs of what they called chronic dropsy , now referred to as edema. The legs swelled and in the end, his body weighed more than 400 pounds. As he lay in his bed (unable to move), he dictated a long-winded will before all breath escaped his body. His last wishes totaled around 7,000 words.

Religion was an important part of the last wishes of the king, even though Henry had broke with the church in Rome. He still kept true to his Roman Catholic beliefs. The preamble to his will was dotted with pious wording , even going as far as declaring himself as a worthy Christian. In the end, he may have felt that his actions towards his former wives may have shed an unfavorable light, as he made a great effort to proclaim that sending two of his wives to their death for false charges of treason was not sinful.

Towards the end of his life, Henry had become a pathetic man who spoke of many misfortunes that had befallen him throughout his life. He mentioned his medical issues and the devastation of his wives miscarriages. Not once did he pause to question whether or not the failed pregnancies of his wives had anything to do with him. Many believed that the king suffered from syphilis, which would have ended all chances for his wives to conceive a child. History reveals many pieces of evidence that the king contracted the disease.

For starters, his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, gave birth to a stillborn daughter and a plump son who only lived for seven weeks. She would have a following four pregnancies that reached full term, but ended in failure. She also had a second stillborn son that the king viewed as a mocking. In the end, the queen was successful in giving birth to a daughter. Mary was the only surviving heir. Later, Mary would rule England as Mary Tudor. Interestingly, the queen would be nicknamed Bloody Mary.