Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Wrath of Henry VIII

Henry VIII is one of the most infamous monarchs, but I had no idea that his reign left such a discernible mark.

Below are sites I visited that contained segments of Henry history. 

Henry VIII's reign was a relatively prosperous time for the people of England. The iconic tudor frame building was in response to many merchants and farmers becoming wealthy. Wood was expensive and rare in England, so the tudor style was a show of family wealth and prosperity. 

Little Moreton Hall  
City of Ludlow
Hampton Court Palace was designed and financed by one of Henry VIII's famous advisors, Wolsey. It took many years to build and costed a great fortune. When Wolsey knew he was falling out of favor he offered it as a gift in hopes to please the King. The King took the palace but dismissed Wolsey. He was accused of treason, but died on his journey to London to be tried. Hampton Court was the site of the birth of Henry's only legitimate son, Edward VI. Queen Catherine Howard was confined in the palace before she was later beheaded in the Tower of London. Legend holds that she escaped from her room and ran screaming around the palace begging for Henry to have mercy on her life. Original interior wood work and tapestries still hang in some of the rooms of Hampton Court. When it was decorated by the King, Anne Boleyn was on the throne. Intertwining H's and A's were carved in the elaborate woodwork of the great banquet hall. But when he beheaded her, he ordered for the intimate initials to be removed. Somehow they missed one which still can be seen today. 

Leeds Castle has a legacy of being property of many Queens of England. But when Catherine of Aragon was replaced by Anne Boleyn she was sent to reside there for a period of time. A beautiful castle under more happier circumstances. 
When Henry couldn't secure a legal divorce from the Pope he took his wrath out on the establishments in England. He took away the lands, valuables, and money from many of the Catholic cathedrals and churches. He sacked and destroyed many important church establishments. One of his most infamous acts was destroying the tomb of Saint Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral. When he was newly married to Catherine of Aragon he did a pilgrimage to the shrine. Interesting that he would later return only to destroy it. The candle in the picture below marks of the spot of the destroyed tomb of Beckett. Today it may not seem like a horrendous thing, but it was one of the most visited shrines in all of Europe at the time. 
St John College of Cambridge was established and built during the time of Henry VIII. He gave the approval of the creation of the college. It is the most magnificent college, in my opinion, in Cambridge. 

Eton College is one of the most famous and successful private boy's high school, (Prince William and Prince Harry attended this school). When Henry was pillaging religious sites, the college did a smart political move and placed the royal coat of arms of Henry VIII on the building. Above the clock is the coat of arms that was erected. My brother is standing in the picture. 
Finally, my brother and my favorite display in the Tower of London was Henry VIII's 'fat' suit of armor. It's hard to tell with just a picture but in person it's easy to see how obese Henry became. 

In spite of all the horrible things Henry did in his lifetime, the museums and exhibitions were only positive in their descriptions about the King. At Hampton Court a video on loop, highlighted the wives of Henry. The commentators kept saying 'Henry had England's best intentions at heart', 'Henry knew what was best for his people', and so on. Facts were not covered up but the narrating was obviously slighted in Henry's favor. But of course the people of England don't hold these same feelings of the tyrant. But still it was shocking to see that the historical sites decisively didn't say anything negative about the old monarch. 

*pictures 2,3,5, 7, and 8 taken by my Dad. The rest of the pictures form Yahoo images


  1. We had a tour of England a few years ago and Henry VIII was one of the monarchs that interested me most and struck me and so when I saw this entry of yours, I just had to read it and it was very interesting :)

  2. Thanks! Yeah it's easy to see why people are so fascinated with him!

  3. I loved reading this! It's a little embarrassing how I'm from England and I've not seen ANY of the sites in the posting above! I was born near Leeds and I grew up there but I don't recall ever visiting the castle. Perhaps I did when was a kid and I just don't remember! We Brits like our Monarchy (somewhat), but I think the Royal Family holds more mystery and fascination for folk outside the country - especially Americans. Having said that, Henry VIII (and all his wives) has always had me intrigued, especially how he changed our Country's religion so drastically just to suit his carnal desires (I find his daughter Elizabeth fascinating too). I don't think I've ever thought of him as a 'tyrant' though! Just one man with way too much power and too much pressure for baring a son. I just finished watching the Tudors (televised series) recently - and it was a great summary of the king's reign - of course it was all pretty glammed up! Anyway - terrific post. Thanks and keep em coming!

    1. Thanks Josie! Wow you are so lucky to grow up in such a gorgeous place! Yes I absolutely loved the Tudors! So true that Americans are enthralled by English history (monarchs). I think the fact that most Americans can trace their linage back to England, creates the attraction to its history.