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Farewell, Henry VIII, we barely knew ye.

January 28, 2017


Henry viii

This is my favorite portrait of Henry VIII.  I bet it’s yours too.

I suppose this is how we all like to remember Henry VIII – jovial, lecherous, living it large, perhaps prone to decapitatory fits of bad temper, but basically lovable.

But it turns out he wasn’t all belly laughs and sunshine.  Oh dear me.  Not at all.  And when he died, 470 years ago today, it was hard for anyone to give him any advance warning.  “Imagining the King’s Death” was (and remained for hundreds of years) a definition of Treason.  There’s such a thing as “speaking truth to power”, but nobody in January 1547 felt in a position to say “here’s the thing, you’re about to snuff it mate”.

Apparently Thomas Cranmer made it to the royal bedside but only when the King was past all speech.  And so, at the instant he died, the boy king…

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