Henry VIII, who ruled England for almost four decades, provokes questions. What is greatness? How should we judge character? Who or what can be said to "make" or cause history? England's most famous king ruled an island only about the size of Pennsylvania, inhabited by fewer than three million people nearly 500 years ago - yet he remains instantly recognizable to this day, his barrel-chested and bejeweled figure immortalized by the brush of Hans Holbein the Younger.
In this series of 24 revealing lectures, an honored teacher offers an intimate portrait of the monarch who, in a recent biographer's words, "changed the heart, mind, and face of Britain more than anything between the coming of the Normans and the coming of the factory" - a despot who became an accidental great-grandfather of English-speaking democracy.
You'll learn how Henry gave Protestantism its powerful purchase in the English-speaking world and how, given Britain's later significance in world history - made possible in part by Henry himself - he must be accounted a towering figure of history. The Henry VIII who emerges from these lectures is a man of both great charm and terrifying, self-pitying ferocity. He harbored ruthless ambitions and spun grand schemes, yet in the end was shadowed by the historical irony of expectations gone awry. At the same time, you'll grasp how his reign contributed an important legacy to British history and the modern world. The revolutionary effect of the Act of Appeals was to make law itself, or the king-in-Parliament, the supreme authority. Parliamentary law became the basis of the new constitutional monarchy, and Henry's navy was the first standing military force in his day.
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