Henry VIII Was a Key Influencer for Divorces Back in the Day

By Gary Cutlack on at

Historians searching through the bleak past have found evidence that wife-swapping king Henry VIII may have made the binning of the old woman for the new quite a trend with his people back in the day, with one representative sample 16th century man seemingly taking his marriage and divorce cues from the great king.

Researchers from Bangor and Exeter universities uncovered records of the case of Welshman Edward Griffith, whose marital stresses appear to closely match those Henry was going through at the time; suggesting divorce became very much a trend thanks to the king's love of choosing a wife as frequently as you or I might chose a pair of trousers.

Griffith was married young to an equally young girl, Jane, who passed away at age 13. Different times, let's not judge him for that. What happened next, though, was that Edward married Jane's sister Agnes (different times, etc.), who left him after a year and triggered Edward's hunt for an annulment. Probably so he could marry her mum and complete the set, but we don't know that. What researchers did find, though, is that Edward remarried and then flip-flopped in allegiance between his new wife and second wife Agnes, apparently mirroring the marital to-ing and fro-ing of Henry.

Historians say Henry VIII's rolling divorce proceedings and tumultuous relationships were even quoted in Edward's appeals for divorce to the powers of the day, making a strong case that the king led the way in encouraging men to pile up the marriages in the same way a modern man may juggle and swap SIM card to best fiddle the allowances. [Exeter University via BBC]