Who was King Henry VIII?

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Learn about the life of Henry VIII and how he changed England forever.

This lesson includes:

  • three videos focusing on how and why Henry VIII changed England

  • two activities to test your knowledge


Sometimes, history is shaped by significant events like battles or earthquakes. Sometimes just one person changes things, like Henry VIII.

Watch this video below as Danny Dyer tells us more about Henry VIII, and how he changed England forever.

Danny Dyer on Henry VIII

In 1509 Henry VIII became king of England. His father had left him lots of money and he wanted to be the greatest king England ever had.

Henry was 18 when he became King. He loved music, dancing and playing sports, like jousting and archery.

Henry VIII and religion

Henry wanted a son to be king when he died. But he and the Queen, Catherine of Aragon, only had a daughter. Henry wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Anne Boleyn instead. But the Pope said, "No!"

Henry was furious! He made everyone agree that in England, he, not the Pope, was in charge of the Church. His new Church was called the Church of England, and this event was called 'The Reformation'.

In 1536 Henry used his new power to begin to close down the monasteries and take their land and money.

In 1536 he united Wales with England, and in 1541 he declared himself King of Ireland. Henry had a series of wars with France, which cost him greatly.

Google Art Project
A portrait of Henry VIII.

Now for a recap, watch this song from CBBC Horrible Histories to tell you how and why Henry VIII changed England.

Learn about how and why Henry VIII changed England.

The wives of Henry VIII

Many people remember Henry VIII for how he treated his six wives. Watch this clip from Horrible Histories to explain why.

The wives of Henry VIII


There are lots of fun ways to show your historical knowledge of Henry VIII, online and offline. Here are a few you could try.

Activity 1

Put the events in the right order

Do you remember what happened in Henry VIII's life? Try the activity below.

Activity 2

Complete the quiz to test your knowledge of Henry VIII.

Activity 3

Use these comprehension sheets from Twinkl to see how much you have learned about King Henry VIII.

Henry VIII comprehension activity

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources from around the BBC and the web.

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