In early September 1533 Henry VIII was not the only one to eagerly anticipate the birth of his child by his second wife, Anne Boleyn, nor the only one to hope that this child would be a son. Everyone in England, and, indeed, Western Europe, was waiting. Henry would eventually have a son, Edward, but his short, unhappy reign would be eclipsed by the long and far more successful reign of his sister, Elizabeth. Her success demonstrated that Henry’s belief that he must have a son to secure England’s safety was misplaced. Nonetheless, Henry’s desire for a male heir was understandable; we may, however, question if his anxiety justified his six marriages and the beheading of two of his wives.
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