As a follow up to Hannah’s excellent post on Henry’s need for a son, I decided to do a couple of posts on the intricacies of Henry’s divorce, also known as the Great Matter. But a little background first, on Henry’s perception of his relationship with Catherine, with respect to the need for a son. Even though the King remained a perfect gentleman and did his duty by the Queen (namely, sleep with her and escort her on royal occasions), the bond between them was broken long before Anne Boleyn entered the picture.
If there is one thing plain about Henry VIII; it was his yearning for a son. Catherine of Aragon prayed endlessly for one; Anne Boleyn dangled the prospect of one like a carrot on a stick for well over eight years. However, it wasn’t until Jane Seymour came along, in 1537, that a Queen was finally able to give him a legitimate one (Prince Edward). The Prince’s birth was all the more of a relief for Henry given that it came just months after the death of his illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond.
Henry wanted to marry Anne Boleyn, and hence started the Reformation. He dumped poor Catherine, got married and made his own church with the help of Anne, and had Elizabeth who went on to become the greatest queen evah! And then he executed poor Anne and broke all the monasteries. This is the Reformation. Alright, I am simplifying it, but after hearing so many versions of the above, I am often left pulling out my hair. There are just so many things wrong with this.
Without the divorce there would therefore have been no Reformation, which is not at all the same thing as to say that there was nothing to the Reformation but the divorce.
Today, I would like to welcome author Susan Higginbotham on this blog. She had her book on Jane Grey, Her Highness the Traitor, out on 1st June, and I am sure it is going to be a good read. I am delighted that she accepted the offer of doing a guest post for our Henry fans during her blog tour. So here goes, a synopsis of Henry’s relationship with his beloved nieces. Thank you, Susan!
This book is supposed to be a biography of King Henry VIII. Wilson claims that based on fascinating new source material, he built up a portrait of King Henry. I was only too eager to read this book, as I had not read any Henry biography for a while now.
However, I am amazed that someone should desire to write an entire book on a subject he dislikes to such a level that he goes all out to endow that person with negative ‘thoughts’ we never can prove he had and to twist actions related to him in a way to make him appear bad, when he never did any such thing.
A couple of days ago, there was a discussion on the blogs of Kathryn Warner and Karen Clark on the depiction of history and historical characters in fact and fiction. Inspired by these posts, and in response to the so-called “non-fiction” book I am reading, I decided to set down a further nine points with respect to non-fiction, from the point of view of a reader, learner, and history enthusiast. I am neither a historian, nor a writer. But I know how to read, and I know what I enjoy. I make no claims to superior knowledge. The following points basically stem from my needs when I read a non-fiction book. And I honestly think that since every second history enthusiast is now writing books for the mainstream media, they could, at the very least, be honest in their writing. So here goes …
Sumptuary laws are legal acts that mark a person’s social status by legally specifying what they could wear, what they could eat, and even what kind of furniture they could have in their homes. Henry VIII’s opulent court called for such laws, but these were also applicable to those lower in rank, and even to monks and laypersons. A difference between the Tudor sumptuary laws and sumptuary laws practiced by other countries was that in England, the laws originated in Parliament, whereas in most other countries, these laws were local, and applicable only within the towns.