THANK GOD FOR HENRY!
H AVE you ever wondered why such venom has been heaped upon King Henry VIII of England? The Shakespearian phrase "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" surely has its basis in truth, because the Crown and the Throne represent a position of power, always coveted by those who wish to use its
influence and wealth to their own ends. For example, out of 45 Scottish Kings in 766 years, 21 were murdered or killed in battle. Of the Anglo-Saxon and Danish Kings in 237 years, numbering 22, two were murdered, and King Harold was killed in the battle of Hastings when the Norman, William the Conqueror took the throne. In 537 years of Norman rule, five kings were murdered or killed in battle. The unified throne lost only one king by execution, Charles I in 1649. Not all historians give due attention to the defence of Henry the Eighth's virtues, but research reveals the mitigating circumstances of his reign, his many talents and some of the characteristics of this bold and notorious man.
British Kings and Queens of old were intermittently admired, feared, obeyed, defied, and some were dearly loved. They had great wealth, power, control of armed
forces, of life and death sentences, of favours and patronage, and were believed to rule by Divine Right. Because we believe that the Royal tribe of Judah and hence the Royal throne of David were continued due to the migration of Zarah, followed decades later by King Zedekiah's two daughters to Ireland, Scotland, and
England (Jeremiah's mission to overturn once, twice, thrice), we too believe that the occupants of that throne are divinely appointed, to "occupy until He comes",
when they will cast their crowns at His feet, and bow before Him whose right it is, and for whom we have been eagerly waiting.
The Coronation service is uniquely framed to follow the traditional words of Samuel's ritual to install David as the first King of Judah. God chose David, the eighth
son of Jesse, the Bethlehemite. We find some strange parallels here as eight is the number of Christ, and He was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Christ was
sinless, His beloved friend was John; later apprehended by Christ was Saul, converted to Paul; David was sinful, and his beloved friend was Jonathan, son of King Saul. David reigned from 1048 to 1008 BC, one of the "significant forties" so prevalent in scripture. David sinned by arranging the death of Uriah the Hittite in
battle, in order to marry his beautiful wife, Bathsheba (II Samuel 11). For this sin, David was not only reprimanded by Nathan the prophet in the parable of the poor man's one little "Ewe Lamb" (II Samuel 12:1-15), but also as further retribution, his little son by Bathsheba took ill and died (II Samuel 12:15-23), and subsequently his son Absalom plotted to kill him and take the throne (II Samuel 15-18)! Davidwas not allowed to build the Temple, which he had conceived as the House of the Lord (IISamuel 7: 4-17), but God promised that his son, Solomon should carry out the plan for the Temple. Retribution, indeed!
God has surely used "earthen vessels for his treasure" that the glory may be His, not ours (2 Corinthians 4:7). So after this brief overview of Judah's ancient Royal Throne, let us examine another king, a later "earthen vessel", Henry the Eighth, who came to the throne of England in 1509 A.D. Historically, he has been much maligned, and indeed no one would want to relive or revive the terrible turmoil and bloodshed of those troublous times in the 16th century! It is difficult for us
to understand the tenor of those times, the dominating influence and vile corruption of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, which Henry recognized and rejected long
before the question of his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, (previously married to Henry's late brother, Arthur) arose. Although much is made of Henry's six wives, little is said about the four marriages of Catherine Parr, whose last husband, Thomas Seymour had also been married four times. The concubines, mistresses,
and secret alliances of many kings and barons, often hiding their illegitimate offspring; the constraints and influences of malicious, hurtful advisors, and even ambitious family members vying for or conspiring against the throne; and the enormous perceived obligation and pressure for a male heir to the throne have largely, but not entirely, been eradicated. Henry VIII is the only monarch to have fathered three future English sovereigns: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth 1.
Two of Henry's three surviving children died, including that precious son Edward VI, the boy King who said when presented with the Swords of State, that one
was missing, the Sword of the Spirit! He then demanded that the Holy Scriptures be brought, thus establishing the precedent for the Bible being presented to the
Monarch during the Coronation as the "most valuable thing that this world affords". He died at sixteen, victim of arsenic poisoning, diagnosed by skin as thin and white as paper before his death. Although it was reported as consumption, the poison was thought to have been administered in small doses by a Romanist supporter infiltrated into the Palace as a servant for such nefarious purposes. Edward, the longed for male heir was born to Jane Seymour, who died shortly after childbirth. He was a staunch Protestant and even during his brief reign, effected, under his uncle's regency, the appointment of John Knox, Ridley, Latimer, and Hooper as Court Preachers. Cranmer's beautifully written Book of Common Prayer (I549) was introduced to bring uniformity of worship, turning England into a Protestant state. The attempt to leave the throne to Edward's cousin, Lady Jane Grey in order to avoid a return to Catholicism, failed when Mary Tudor took the throne and had Jane executed after only nine days, forerunner of many such heinous acts which earned her the appellation "Bloody Mary"!
Henry also added to the liturgy of the "Protestant" Church of England, the response "give peace in our time Oh Lord, for there is none other that fighteth for us but only Thou, Oh God", acknowledging the promised protection and preservation of His people Israel, as our only sure defence. In 1533, the clergy of the province of Canterbury had asked King Henry VIII for an official translation of the Bible.They wanted this delivered to the people for their instruction. A dedication to the King was added to that first whole Bible which Myles Coverdale translated and had published in 1535. When the scholars had assured him that it was free of any heresies, Henry authorized its circulation (The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible, p76). After his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, Henry requested Parliament's help to end financial and legal ties with a foreign power, and broke with Rome. His title was to be Protector and Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England. By Royal Proclamation, a large copy of the newly translated Bible was ordered to be placed in every church. The Reformation in England was accomplished, without the people realizing just how drastic the upheaval had been. The dissolution of the monasteries began in 1536 to prevent the idle and immoral monks from propagandizing for the Papacy. Many other European states began to break away from the Roman Church and Papal authority.
Henry continued his father's work of creating an effective Navy by building the largest ship ever known, 1,000 tons, called Great Harry:separating the Navy from
the Army: creating the first dockyard at Portsmouth: adding eighty ships to Naval strength, thus challenging the maritime supremacy of Spain. He is credited with
bringing order to maritime navigation, formally establishing Trinity House in 1514, where, 475 years later, it still provides essential aids to navigation. When the Mary Rose sank rapidly before thousands of spectators, Henry and his court among them, he arranged for a massive salvage operation to be set up. He had ordered the construction of the Mary Rose at the age of 18 when he first came to the throne. She was then considered one ofthe most formidable ships afloat, and was named
after the King's sister, Mary Tudor, and the family emblem, the rose (Strange Stories and Amazing Facts, RD1984).
Henry was popular with his people, and a brilliant statesman. At a time when Europe was in turmoil, he maintained order without an army. (Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain. E.R. Delderfield, 1973).
Under the trivia category, it is said that Henry used his thumb to redefine the yard, fixing it as the distance from the tip of his nose to the tip of the thumb of his
outstretched arm. This became known as the "rule of thumb", (perhaps also "at arm's length"). He also encouraged the widespread use of bricks in such
prestigious buildings as Hampton Court Palace. The last abbot ofGlastonbury, Richard Whiting, hoping to placate Henry VIII, sent His Majesty an enormous Christmas pie containing the deeds of 12 manors. The task of carrying the pie to London was entrusted to Horner, who managed to extract the deed to the manor of Mens in Somerset, presumably the "plum" referred to in the nursery rhyme, Little Jack Horner. The year before he died, Henry founded Trinity College at Oxford. He founded regius professorships of Greek, Hebrew, divinity,civil law and physics at Oxford and Cambridge. Henry also composed music and poetry, was skilled in learning and athletics, was the first monarch to be called "Your Majesty" and was accounted the most handsome and accomplished prince of his time.
The significance of the number eight in Henry's designation may be related to King David being the eighth son of Jesse in that eight is the Christ number, being the perfect representation of the Octave, and therefore, Alpha and Omega. (Rand, Bullinger, Panin) The sweeping movement of Protestantism via Luther, Hus, Waldo, Gutenberg and Erasmus had spread over Europe. Under Wycliffe and the Lollards in England by 1384, the Latin Vulgate Bible had been translated into
English.The devotion of David conveyed by the Psalms was an enlightenment in his day: the establishment of the Church of Englandwas equally an enlightenment in
Henry the Eighth's day.
In Bible numerics, the aforementioned Panin, Bullinger and Rand concur that double numbers carry a stronger influence or relevance. During the early era of Bible translation and wider distribution, we find these dates with double numbers: French translation - 1170; Henry, Duke of Hereford, son of John of Gaunt, first to
speak English as his mother-tongue, becomes King of England; English translation - 1399; Gutenberg's European printing press in Mainz - 1445; Dutch translation - 1477; Italian - 1488; Luther NT 1522; Coverdale - 1533 (Henry VIII); Tyndale - 1566; Authorized Version (KJV) - 1611; John Eliot (Massachusetts language) -1663; Tamil- 1711; Alexander Croden died 1770, his Concordance revision of 1949 contains 220,000 references; Challoner translation -1772 (Douai); Tahitian
- 1818; Revised Version (NT) -1881 Revised Version (OT) - 1885; Jerusalem 1966; Good News - 1966.
There are 66 books in the Bible. By 1600,in Europe, the number of Bible translations through Latin, Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, English and Welsh totaled 66. By 1850,
worldwide, there were 197.
In upholding Henry VIII, we do not condone or minimize the improprieties and violence of his life and times, but his sterling qualities and Christian influence should not be undervalued; we are all clay pots. After four years of Bloody Mary's reign of terror, Henry's remarkable and wonderful daughter, Elizabeth I from 1559 bore the onerous burden of avoiding civil war in England by reluctantly, and after deliberately prolonged delays, executing her half-sister, Mary Queen of Scots. Mary was the centre and source for the Babington plot and other conspiracies to murder Queen Elizabeth for her own religious purposes, take the throne, thereby reverting the nation to Romanism and the domination of the Papacy, causing murderous strife and peril. By contrast to this, peace, order and the flowering of British poetry and music blossomed during the famed Elizabethan era. Later, in 1605, the infamous gunpowder plot hatched by Guy Fawkes and others, intended to blow up the Parliament buildings on the occasion of Protestant King James I opening of Parliament, was thankfully brought to light by a mysterious letter, warning one of the members NOT to attend on opening day. The conspirators were caught and killed in flight,or imprisoned or executed.
In terms of Christian leadership and influence, for the extent of contributions to the religious and cultural progress in Great Britain and Europe, let us truly thank
God for Henry VIII!
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