In 1536, on this day the forty-four year old King of England, Henry VIII was killed in a jousting accident at Greenwich Palace.
Defender of the Faith
By Ed & Scott PalterTudor, in full armour, was thrown from his horse, itself armoured, which then directly fell on top of him.
At the appex of his powers, a great "Defender of the Faith" had been taken from Catholic England. And the unfortunate timing of this appalling tragedy meant that his sickly twenty-five year old son, Prince Henry, Duke of Cornwall would prematurely inherit a divided nation locked in a schismatic power struggle with the Protestant faction.
Lacking his father's huge popularity in the country, he was quite unable to exercise anything like the same vice-like grip over this struggle - even on his own court. With the country disintegrating fast, he desperately needed the support of a willing Catholic ally.
Enter Philip II, King of Spain, who agreed to marry Henry IX's thirty-seven year old sister Mary in 1544. The forging of this alliance required a grand bargain that would ultimately cause a long-term, global shift of alignment of the Great Powers. For his wars against the France, and to save a huge cost to His Majesty's Treasury, Britain willingly agreed to cede Calais to Philip. But this trade-off was not quite enough, and Spain insisted on a deal-breaker. With Henry's support, Philip claimed all of the Americas except Brazil, bar Canada which the English now began to settle by lawful possession.