Henry VIII was only 18 when he became king. Henry was very clever and spoke other languages. He was a great musician, and he was also very athletic and loved hunting and wrestling. He did not become fat until he was an old man. Henry is famous for his six wives, but Henry changed England forever. This is why.
When Henry became king, England was a Catholic country. In 1509, Henry married Catherine of Aragon and they had a daughter. Henry wanted a son to be the next king so, in 1533, he decided to divorce Catherine and marry again. Pope Clement VII, the head of the Catholic Church, refused Henry’s divorce, so Henry left the Catholic Church. He became head of the Church of England. He closed Catholic convents and monasteries and took their money and their land.
Elizabeth was queen for nearly fifty years. She became head of the Church of England again, and stopped the fighting between Protestants and Catholic. William Shakespeare wrote his plays during Elizabeth’s reign. Famous English sailors like Sir Francis Drake travelled round the world. They stole gold from Spanish ships, and in 1588 the King of Spain sent an Armanda of ships to attack London. Elizabeth’s ships defeated the Spanish with the help of some bad weather!
Elizabeth I had no children. When she died in 1603, King James VI of Scotland also became King of England. He was called James I of England.
In sixteenth century England, monasteries were the only schools and universities. When Henry VIII destroyed the monasteries, wealthy families began to build colleges and schools. Some of the great schools and university colleges in England started in Tudor times. For example, Henry VII founded Trinity College in the University of Cambridge in the University of Cambridge in 1546. There is a statue of Henry VIII over the top of the great gate. Henry also finished the famous King’s College Chapel in Cambridge in 1536. The Tudors started Grammar Schools, many of which exist today. Boys from rich families went to Grammar Schools from ages of 7 to 14. For example, William Shakespeare was a student at the King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford. The lessons in Grammar Schools started at dawn and ended when it began to get dark. There were no long summer holidays. Schools closed for sixteen days at Christmas and twelve days at Easter.
Girls from rich families usually stayed at home to learn to be good wives and mothers. In poorer families, some boys became apprentices; they learnt a job. Girls became servants. Most poorer children did not go to school. They stayed at home to help their parents before starting to work