Henry VIII

by lstraton ~ January 31st, 2010. Filed under: Chapter 13: Reformation, Religious Wars, and National Conflicts.

In our book Henry VIII is portrayed is somewhat of a positive light. This is an interesting viewpoint because it is so contrary to so many other sources. The book, when on the subject of Catherine of Aragon’s daughter, states “Henry doubted that England would accept a female heir to his throne and feared that after his death, the country would lapse back into the civil war from which it had recently emerged” (370). This makes it sound like Henry was only looking out for his country and was trying to do the right thing. The recent movie, “The Other Boleyn Girl,” pictured Henry as a womanizing, drunk, tyrant. This is just one of many examples of how the media portrays Henry. The book also uses phrases like “fallen in love with Anne Boleyn” (370) and “To the king’s great disappointment, however, Anne bore him another daughter, Elizabeth” (370). Both these phrases humanize Henry. Everyone can sympathize with love and disappointment. I’m not sure whether I agree or disagree with the book, but it certainly is a new spin on an old topic.

~Hannah (Libby) Straton

1 Response to Henry VIII

  1. Brooke

    The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory was historical fiction, so I believe she probably took some literary liberties with Henry VIII to display him as a foil for other characters in her book.
    Through what I have read of Henry VIII, he did marry for love, much like his grandfather did. And for that matter, having a mistress was rather “normal” at the time for husbands. Marriages were meant to be political unions, so the husband could easily have an affair, especially if he were king. So for Henry VIII to have taken mistress after mistress, courted them, then attempt to have a son was not really unusual.
    Katherine’s failure to provide a male heir really was also a BIG problem for Henry’s dynasty in the long run. His nobility was firm, but not set in stone. If Henry suddenly died, most assuredly the House of York would overthrow a young girl (Mary) in the House of Tudor.

    I don’t think the textbook is exactly unique in its capturing of Henry VIII’s behaviour as King, but I do believe Philippa Gregory’s take on him is. Most of the works I have read on Henry VIII and his wives speak of the trouble and anguish Henry went through in his attempt for a heir.

    I think today we find it odd to see a man divorcing and marrying so many women, and therefore project that view on 16th century England. As surveyors of history, we sometimes look back and think that those people had the same ideals, values, and expeiences as we do.

    Henry was most certainly indulgent, I won’t argue that; but I don’t find Henry to be a tyrant. He was king and was regarded as such. His word was superior to the queen’s, to Anne’s, and to Wosley or Cromwell (at least in the logic of the time; whether or not it was true in form is another matter entirely).

    I see your point that the differences are rather large in the media’s popular-culture portrayal of Henry and the text, though. Scandalous England royalty is interesting, but a womanizer tyranncal king is even more intriguing.