Henry VIII, eh? What a bastard.(348 Posts)
I just feel there should be an ongoing thread on what a vile piece of work Henry VIII was where people can leave their opinions on the complete and utter appallingness of Henry VIII.
Of course, this being Mumsnet someone will probably come along and say IABVU and he was actually very nice.
(What sparked this off, btw, was me discovering that the Pilgrimage of Grace marched past where my house is, having mustered troops a mile away. Now every time I have to go into the garden at night I will imagine rotting corpses swinging from the trees - he had some of the rebels hanged in their own back gardens and some women got into trouble for cutting down their husband's bodies when they were supposed to leave them there to rot as a warning. What a bastard.)
It means he's more or less forgiven them, I would think, he's playing Magnanimous Sovereign and saying he forgives them for being related to nasty traitors.
Re the standard of education of Tudor women, it made me think of nowadays, in the information age, where you get people in full-time education believing that the devil has put fossils in the earth to trick humans into doubting god, that sort of thing. Or the Ickeians who have 'seen' people transform back into their lizard form.
I think with the right sort of 'education' you can make otherwise normal and same people believe anything. So it doesn't sound outlandish that she might actually have believed that Henry could know her thoughts.
Anyone see the Lost Palaces of Henry V111 on Yesterday last night?
Thought I'd died and gone to TV heaven (apart from Tony R who makes me stabby). I would love to see the tapestries, etc IRL. Alison Weir was on it and I love her just a teeny bit less than Hillary.
A couple of years ago I did an online course on Henry VIII. I've always been interested in The Tudor period but never had the opportunity to study it in any great detail.
The course worked as a forum between the students and the tutor with set topics each week which developed and evolved. There were also set essays which had to be submitted periodically and were marked as you went along.
Anyway, initially most of us doing the course seemed to start out with the "traditional" idea that Henry was a complete bastard. That impression though did change somewhat as through the course we debated and discussed his reign and the changes that he implemented.
Although the course didn't concentrate on his six wives and many mistresses, obviously they did crop up from time to time and I found many of my pre-conceived views had changed by the end.
I'm not saying that Henry VIII was an angel, far from it - he was a tough character who often took a hard line approach and yes, many of his actions in hindsight were cruel, selfish and appallingly violent. However they have to be viewed in the political and social climate of the time which was radically different to how we see things today.
Regarding his wives and mistresses he does seem to have been attracted to strong women who would have stood out in any era. Sadly his overwhelming obsession with producing a "legitimate" male heir led to the demise of his first two wives and pretty miserable upbringings for his daughters Mary and Elizabeth.
All of his wives were amazingly strong women in their own right. Katherine of Aragon reigned in his absence and defeated the Scots; Anne Boleyn inspired him to religious reform; Jane Seymour stood up to him over the Pilgrimage of Grace; Anne of Cleves used him for her own ends to escape her abusive family and did quite well for herself; Katherine Howard survived a neglectful upbringing but was far from the stupid flighty girl she at first appears and Katherine Parr united his family, encouraged him to restore Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession and was the first queen to have literature published in her own name.
Henry ruled in an era where the political, religious and social environment was shifting throughout Europe. It was a complex and challenging time and he reacted to it using the intelligence and tools available to him as he went along.
Hindsight is a marvellous thing and we can't really judge him or his actions on the standards of today, it all has to be viewed in context.
Not everything he did was detrimental and among his achievements were the founding of National Identity, freedom from Rome, the development of the British Navy, the translation of the Bible into English and the promotion of parliament.
Was he a nice bloke ? - probably not; was he a good husband? - definitely not; but was he a strong and effective monarch ? - yes in many ways he was.
I just don't think you can sum him up simply as "a bastard" any more than you can describe his wives as pious, whore, submissive, ugly, flighty and a carer.
Yep, strong ruler. Intelligent. Effective. And a bastard.
To good a thread to let die.
So thrilled to see this thread! Too tired to read now; looking forward to it tomorrow.
Coming back to my OP, I am happy to report that I have since discovered that it was only rebels around Carlisle who got hanged in their back gardens and as we are in the East Riding, my local pilgrims are in the clear.
I also note, however, that the fact the 'dreadful execution' he asked for wasn't carried out all over the north, was not down to him but because his advisors told him he had to show mercy.
It is unclear exactly how much of a bastard he was to the rebel leader Robert Aske (though there is no doubt he was a bastard) because the description 'hanged in chains' can refer to hanging with chains or to live gibbeting. C.J. Sansom's novel Sovereign has Aske live-gibbeted but I am not entirely convinced. I cannot WAIT to see what Hilary Mantel does with it in book 3.
Ooo, just seen this thread. I love history, but am nowhere near knowledgeable enough to make a meaningful contribution
One thing I will ask is this: do you think Katherine of Aragon's marriage to Arthur was consummated?
MIL is a big history buff, and very knowledgeable about this period, she often talks about Anne of Cleeves getting the best deal by giving Henry what he wanted (a divorce) and becoming his "most beloved sister". But I digress, I recall MIL having a vocal disagreement with her SIL about KoA and Arthur's marriage. Her SIL was convinced that KoA lied about not consummating the marriage, but MIL was equally adamant that, as a devout Catholic, KoA would have honestly believed that she would condemn her immortal soul to burn in hell if she lied.
I'm inclined to go with MIL on this one.
I think that they probably did consummate it. Arthur intimated that they did after the wedding night didn't he?
Her desire to be Queen was probably stronger than her faith!
I don't think it was. I think she was pretty serious about her faith and Arthur would say it was, wouldn't he, rather than admitting he couldn't do it?
However I do wonder if it was a sort of halfway house - they weren't entirely sure what had happened, maybe it had been in but he hadn't come, or come before it got in properly, or something like that.
I once had a history tutor who reckoned you could teach the entire English Reformation without ever mentioning Ann Boleyn. (He never did even though we tried hard to trick him into it.)
I agree with him on a 'historian' level but, on the level of an avid reader of historical fiction, I think the Court was such a hothouse dedicated to satisfying his whims that I doubt if a king so desperate for an heir and so accustomed to getting his own way could see far enough to weigh the long-term consequences of divorcing Katharine and marrying Ann.
Henry subsequently tried to clamp down on the spread of Protestantism but his advancement of advisors, particularly Cromwell, who were sympathetic to Protestantism and who could see a break with Rome as a way of getting him married to Ann had already put the country on that path.
Sorry, Prof. C.
I've been looking for History Club for ages, having seen it mentioned. It's terrific!
Ooh just seen this thread has been revived. Lovely. Although I'm no expert I'd say that Katherine's & Arthur's marriage wasn't consummated. I think her faith would have outweighed anything even becoming Queen.
I read that Henry VIII would have been considered to have a borderline personality which would explain the massive shifts in how he regarded people. After all, it seems to me most people did not survive his court and ended up executed when he got sick of them!
Historians seem to think that if Anne had had a son she wouldn't have been executed.
A very clever Mumsnetter who knows all about etymology told me something I didn't know last night.
Tudor is from the same root as Theodore, meaning 'God's gift'.
Couldn't be more apt....
This thread is fantastic... I've just read every post and am now googling all about Lady Jane Greys marriage... (Charles Brandon was her grandfather, yes?)
Yes, that's right, her mum was Frances Brandon, his daughter with Henry VIII's little sister Mary.
Lottie I also saw an interesting documentary, hypothesizing that Henry had some sort of mental illness or brain damage from his fall during the joust. Nothwithstanding his ruthlessness and determination to get his way which was always the case, he did progress to tyranny, mercilessness and this was put forward using peer accounts from the time as out of character when compared with the younger man. I will try to remember the name of it - they presented an interesting timeline showing the progression and the 'peaks' of his more extreme acts. T'was a good watch..mind you, the expression 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' could also be argued. Once he broke with Rome, he was pretty much free to become a total megalomaniac without consequence
Ooh, I'd like to see that!
Oo I've just discovered this thread
Didn't Henry have diabetes and or cushings disease - would explain the ulcer that didn't heal A head injury while jousting could have resulted in some type of mental illness
I read somewhere that Anne Boleyn had rhesus negative blood. She gave birth to ( miscarried) a deformed male child which in the medieval mind 'proved' that she'd been up to no good with other men / involved in witchcraft - this was used against her in her trial.
Was Henry a B ? He was a spoiled good looking rich entitled bloke surrounded by yes men who usually got his own way by some means or other. Ended up with a brain injury and lots of pain/disease that couldn't be treated/controlled
He probably was quite unpleasant
Heather, if you are still about: I'm not sure anything about the miscarried child came up at the trial - there was no right of reply to a treason charge IIRC and many of the dates were simply impossible ( Anne and the man were in different to locations, one was when she was still confined after Elizabey's birth etc).
tracy borman's Cromwell bio is good, touches on Henry of course
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