Detail from a painting
of the Mary Rose at Portsmouth by William Bishop.
(The reflection is a Java applet - click on the
picture to stop and start the animation.)
VIII came to the throne in 1509. He was only 19 years old when he
became King of England.
One of the first things he did as King was to build up his navy. Both
the French and the Scots had powerful navies and England was open
to attack from both the North and the South.
During the Middle Ages, England owned large parts of France, but by
Henry's reign they only held on to the land around Calais.
Henry VIII still had a claim to the crown of France, and he wanted
to go to war with the French, perhaps mostly to show that he should
be taken seriously as King.
First though, he had to strengthen his navy.