King Henry VIII, of House Tudor, was a notable king of England, famous for having six wives and for breaking the Church of England from Catholicism; he is the central character of The Tudors and appears in all episodes. He ruled for nearly forty years and became one of England's most infamous kings, both a charismatic leader and a monster in his own right. The Tudors does not historically accurately chronicle Henry's life in terms of the passage of time, but they did stay true to most historical events during his reign. He is played by Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in an award-winning role.
Henry's six wives reigned in the following order: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr. He had three children by the first three, each of whom succeeded him on the throne: King Edward VI (the youngest), son of Jane Seymour, Queen Mary I (the eldest), daughter of Catherine of Aragon, and Queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne Boleyn. Henry also had at least one bastard son, Duke Henry Fitzroy of Richmond (by one of his mistresses, Elizabeth Blount) who died at age 16 (in the series he dies as a little boy) and may have had other illegitimate children. His more prominent mistresses (besides Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard before they respectively became Queens) include Elizabeth Blount, Mary Boleyn, Princess Margueritte of France, Eleanor Luke, Madge Shelton and Ursula Missledon. Henry's only consistant friend throughout the series is his childhood companion Charles Brandon, whom he invests as Duke of Suffolk.
Season One focuses mostly on Henry's annullment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and his affair with the beautiful Anne Boleyn. The first episode opens with everybody recieving news of Henry's uncle's death, which has made Henry mad with grief and extremely furious. Henry declares that they must declare war on France. He then goes to sleep with his maid. Henry is constantly cheating on his wife Catherine, however she is not aware of his adulterous ways until she discovers his maid the Lady Elizabeth is pregnant with his child. Henry is ecstatic when Lady Elizabeth has a son, who is named Henry Fitzroy. Henry sends the boy away to his own establishment when he is of old enough age, however, Henry's happiness at having a son is short-lived, as Henry Fitzroy catches the sweating sickness and dies. Lady Elizabeth, dressed in black, comes to her son's bed where he lies dead and cries, while episode 5 ends with a devastated Henry crying about his son's death while looking at the crown his son wore when he was named Duke. Anne and Henry make plans to get married and when Henry announces to Catherine of Aragon, his wife, that their marriage was null and void and that it has come to an end, she is devastated. Anne promises Henry a son. The first season ends with Henry riding with Anne on horseback into the forest; they get off their horses and have sex but Anne shoves Henry off and tells him "No you musn't" after he attempts to get her pregnant. Henry, furious, screams in anger and storms off out of the forest.
Henry is now married to Anne Boleyn. Henry's beard indicates that he and Anne have been together for a few years now. Henry sleeps with Anne while they are in France (to present her as his betrothed to King Francis), causing her to get pregnant; in episode 2.03, he and Anne marry secretly to legitimize the baby, and she is subseqently crowned Queen of England as the new, Protestant archbishop of Canterbury (Thomas Cranmer) nullifies Henry's marriage to Catherine. However, much to Henry's disappointment, Anne gives birth to a girl who is named Elizabeth I. Although he initially still loves Anne, Henry promptly breaks his promise 'not to have a thought or affection for anyone else' and resumes his philandering with Anne's ladies-in-waiting; Anne catches on to this quickly and is upset. Prompted by her father, she reluctantly approves of Henry having a mistress as long as they are her choice, but Henry continues to gradually drift away from her, especially after her second pregnancy ends in miscarriage. Anne's outspoken nature on politcal matters- formerly what made her attractive- are now an annoyance, and by episode 2.06 there is a definite rift between Henry and his wife, though they appear to be somewhat reconciled in episode 2.07
After getting pregnant again, Anne catches Henry kissing Jane Seymour, a woman who has been made Anne's lady-in-waiting, and goes into shock, miscarrying Henry's male child. Anne tells Henry, "I'm sorry," but he simply walks away, furious at having lost a son. This episode, episode 8, closes with Henry declaring his marriage to Anne null and void. Henry's affections begin shifting as the Seymour family is awarded new and more luxurious rooms at Court, replacing the Boleyns as the new royal favourites. During episode 8, Henry recieves a serious wound to his leg while jousting that would cause him great pain in later life; this wound gives him ulcers repeatedly in later seasons. Anne, having lost a son, has lost her chance at having a lasting marriage with Henry. Members of Court move against her; she is accused of adultery and witchcraft, and four of her supposed lovers, including her friend Mark Smeaton and brother George, and sentenced to death, and so is Anne. Her four supposed lovers are executed at the Tower. Anne awaits her own death, grief-stricken. Her execution is delayed by the executioner's late arrival. Henry visits Jane Seymour, asking for her hand in marriage. Jane and Henry become engaged. Anne is executed; Henry devours a swan and smiles. This is how season 2 ends.
Henry and Jane marry. Henry falls deeply in love with Jane, who in turn mends Henry's relationships with his family. Jane becomes a good friend of Henry's daughter Mary. After sleeping with Henry, Jane subtly implies her pregnancy by her craving quail eggs. Jane gives birth to a son, but the birth is long and painful. She contracts an illness and dies 12 days after Edward's birth, much to Henry's devastation. He isolates himself in his chambers, depressed and devastated.
Henry's personality is shown to change considerably over the series; yet, the most consistent trait, unfortunately, is that he is extremely quick to anger. Even his beloved or most trusted ones are not safe when Henry's wrath is aroused, though he may later show regret after their inevitable demise; the executions of his old friend and teacher Thomas More, and his wife Anne Boleyn in Season Two, demonstrated how far Henry's anger can go. Only Henry's best friend, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, survives the entirety of Henry's reign and remains in favor at his death, and this is because he is careful not to become to closely involved in political/religious matters. Henry's paranoia of plots or deceptions against him makes him increasingly unpredictable in Seasons Three and Four.
Although he genuinely loved all his wives (with the possible exception of Anne of Cleves) Henry's love could be very conditional, as was proved by the downfalls of Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Henry remained a phenomenal womanizer throughout his reign until his final years, even cheating on his most beloved queen, Jane Seymour; he would take and later discard various mistresses for short periods of time, although the only one he ever asked to become his maitresse en titre ('official mistress') was Anne Boleyn, who refused. Henry was never shown to cheat on Catherine Parr, but by then his health had declined to the point that he was in no shape for sexual activity anyway.
Henry's health also affects his unpredictable personality as the series progresses. During Season Two when he is knocked unconscious during a jousting match in episode 2.08, an old wound on Henry's leg re-opens and becomes infected; the wound would periodically give Henry ulcers for the rest of his life, causing him excruciating pain and shortening his temper still further. As a result of being unable to continue in his usual intense exercise (as he once did) due to his crippled leg, Henry increasingly gains weight from his continued extravegant diet (though he is far less obese in the series than he was in real life).
Despite his hair-trigger temper, self-indulgence and ruthless nature, Henry cares deeply for all his children (even though he disowns his two daughters at various points due to his quest to father a son) and ultimately refuses to harm any of them; his love for his children is perhaps his only consistant redeeming quality. In Season one, when his bastard son Henry Fitzroy dies of the plague, Henry is shown weeping and staring at a miniature crown he had given the little boy a few months before, having bestowed him as a Duke. Henry's passions never truly die; he shows overwhelming grief on the death of his third and most beloved Queen, Jane Seymour, and shows eventual regret over the deaths of his first and second Queens (Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn) despite both marriages having ended badly.
Henry enjoys sports of every kind as well as gambling, but he is a bit of a sore loser; he reacted badly on several occasions when three of his respective queen consorts (Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr) beat him at cards.