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The 15 Most Important People in European History

The List:
1 Adolf Hitler
2 Isaac Newton
3 Albert Einstein
4 Queen Elizabeth I
5 Charles Darwin
6 King Henry VIII
7 Leonardo Da Vinci
8 Mahatma Gandhi
9 Otto Von Bismarck
10 Galileo Galilei
11 Winston Churchill
12 Michelangelo
13 William Shakespeare
14 Francis Bacon
15 Pablo Picasso
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No. 6 King Henry VIII

This English monarch, born in 1491 had enormous significance for England and for Europe as a whole. Henry VIII, after achieving the throne in 1509, began to make a series of decisions that would affect the course of religion in Europe. At the start of his reign, Henry VIII was loyal to the Catholic Church, and indeed did denounce the reformer Martin Luther, receiving from that the title "defender of the faith". However, this title was soon to take on ironic meaning. In 1533, after his marriage with Catherine of Aragon failed to produce any male heirs, possibly because Catherine was Henry's brother's widow, Henry attempted, and failed to annul his marriage.

This didn't work, due mostly to the fact that the Holy Roman Emperor (Clement) was the nephew of Catherine. So because of that, Henry earned his place on this list. He separated England from the Roman Catholic Church, becoming the first major country to join the Reformation. This occurred through the Reformation Parliament of 1529, where 137 statues were passed to separate the Catholic Church from England, and then make himself the head of the newly formed Church of England. More significantly, all church and political officials were (or were supposed to be) loyal to the King, not the Pope-a great change in Western thought. However, the Church of England was very similar to the Catholic Church in terms of theology, it was only the leader that differed. Henry VIII died in 1547, and the England of that time was vastly different than the England of 1509, when Henry VIII first took the throne.

Henry was placed on this list for three reasons. The first quality that must be examined is: direct impact on people's everyday lives. Here the answer is obvious. Henry changed the entire social structure of England. The church was no longer an independent organ, but now merely part of the state. At that time in History, the church was extremely important, and the fact that it was not under Rome's control was a major social change.

The second reason for his inclusion is the large-scale impact on countries. Here the quality is clear. England was the first large country to separate from the Holy Roman Church. Because of this action, other countries, mostly the Netherlands and other smaller countries would have their own Reformation activities, including separation from the Catholic Church. This directly led to the Thirty-Year War, which dictated the political and religious borders of Europe, with little change, until today.

The third reason for inclusion is the impact on long-term movements. Here, we must go again to the Reformation. This large-scale movement was the first to break the political and social structure that had existed in Europe for 1000 years. The Reformation started the varied religious composition in Europe that exists today, and that all started with Henry VIII. He was the first to oppose the Pope on such a large scale, and was the first to follow the ideals of the Reformation on that scale. Religious diversity still exists today-a direct result of the actions of Henry VIII.

Birth: 1491 in London, England
Nickname: Not Applicable
Education: Private Tutelage
Occupation: King of England.
Religious Affiliation: Catholic, then Anglican (Church of England)
Marriage: Catherine of Aragon (m. 1509-1533)
Anne Bolyen (m. 1533-1536)
Jane Seymour (m. 1536)
Anne of Cleaves (m. 1540)
Catherine Howard (m. 1540-1542)
Cathrine Parr (m. 1543-1547)
Children: Mary I (1516-1588)
Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
Edward VI (1537-1553)
Political Affiliation: King of England (Monarchist)
Writings: Henry VIII manuscripts (musical in nature)
Died: January 28, 1547 in Whitehall Palace, London, England.
Buried: St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, England

Links for King Henry VIII
Henry VIII: British Monarchs - http://www.britannia.com/history/monarchs/mon41.html
Henry VIII (1491-1547) - http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/tudor.htm
Catholic Enclyclopedia: Henry VIII - http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07222a.htm