5 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Henry VIII

Think you know Henry VII?

Think again! 

These little known facts of one of England’s best known monarchs shows just how easily he’s been misrepresented over the years…

He wasn’t always overweight.

Although many associate Henry VIII with the classic portrait of an overweight man who had been overstuffed on all the fine foods that society could afford him, he wasn’t always this kind of man. Before he approached this time in his life, Henry was an athletic man who stood at 6 foot 2 inches and regularly showed his athletic prowess off. Unlike some of the rather boyish, weak looking monarchs before him, Henry was the quintessential fair prince who had inherited his good looks from his grandfather, Edward IV.

He wasn’t expected to become King.

Henry VIII’s coronation was very much Plan B. His older brother, Arthur, was destined to take the throne.

Arthur was married to Catherine of Aragon (the daughter of the King of Spain) in 1502, however just a few months later, at the age of 15, he died of an illness which has yet to be explained. Henry was next in line to the throne and was crowned at the age of 17.

Henry: The Writer

Movies and books have set up the man as a pheasant scoffing, wife-killing brute whilst neatly sidestepping the fact that he was also an accomplished writer.

Although Henry is best known for breaking from the Catholic Church, his first publication was a book named Defense of the Seven Sacraments a 30,000 word bestseller that supported the Papacy.

He only placed one woman’s head on a spike

Besides his numerous marriages, Henry was also known for his ruthless execution-rate, something which has seen him being labelled as a tyrant in modern times. Although he’s estimated to be responsible for the executions of anywhere between 57,000 and 72,000 people over the years, Henry only ever ordered one woman’s head to be placed on a spike. Elizabeth Barton, known as ‘The Nun of Kent’ got into hot water by prophesying Henry’s death, she was hanged for her crimes before being decapitated and presented for all to see.

Henry was an accomplished musician

Not many interpretations of Henry have seen him plucking a lute or blowing a recorder, but nonetheless that’s what he was wont to do in his spare time. When Henry wasn’t writing, or eating he was practicing various instruments including different times of keyboards, string instruments and the aforementioned recorder. His compositions, ranging from trite Mass sermons to simpler ditties, survive to this day and whilst critics have been quick to damn some of them as simplistic, many believe there are a number of gems within his repertoire…