Tuesday, August 25, 2015

And Every One Was a Henry. Today's Henry: VIII

Nobody, it seems, divides the room quicker than Henry VIII.
The guy just had that way about him.
Raised in a household of his female royal relatives, he had, I imagine, a babyhood sort of like the Talking Heads "Up All Night" song.
Image result for henry viii child wood bust
wood bust of young boy believed to be Henry VIII
"Look at the little lamb!" "Oh, sweet baby!" 

His father, Henry VII, was absent quite a bit as Henry VII was busy teaching first-born son, Prince Arthur, all the ways of being a king.
Prince Henry, although the 'spare,' did not get a social pass when it came to his schoolwork; he was tutored vigorously with a focus on religious studies. 
As a second-born son, tradition would have him sent off to join the Church. 

When Prince Henry's brother got engaged to Catherine of Aragon, a Spanish and fearless princess, everyone was deliriously happy.
When Catherine of Aragon arrived in England, the bazillions of people lining the streets for her welcome, her wedding, or any other reason her pure beauty was on parade loved her.
Catherine of Aragon: survived genteel starvation and rags-dressing and went on to marry Henry VIII.
Everyone loved her.
She married Prince Arthur, both of them just about the age as a high-school freshman, even though her dad and Prince Arthur's dad were wrangling still over when her full dowry would arrive in England.

Five months later, Prince Arthur died.

And after that, nobody loved Catherine quite so much.

Prince Arthur and Prince Henry's dad held her a gilded-caged hostage for the rest of that darned dowry from her dad. 
Years went by.
For as little as Catherine had been loved earlier, she was way less loved as she lurched from her teens toward her twenty-first birthday - her twentythisisn'tfunnyanymore-second birthday - her twentyareyoufuckingkiddingme-third birthday - and incredibly, still little tended much less given any kind of budget for groceries, like some medieval version of 'Grey Gardens' her twenty-fourth birthday.

When Prince Arthur died, all his father's scary intense focus on drilling How One Kings into little Arthur, got to start all over again from Ground Zero with Prince Henry, ten years old and the 'spare.'
One heir.
And then Prince Henry's mother, Elizabeth of York, Queen of England, died abruptly trying to gift the realm with a spare.
Neither mother nor baby girl survived.
So sad.

Henry VII was never big on feelings to begin with; he trafficked more in risk management and paranoia, so imagine Prince Henry's fun teen years. 
Okay, kid, we're done being sad.
It's time for Tutoring for Tudor Kings 24/7 - where every day is as much fun as a trip to the dentist.
Prince Henry was smart; he listened, he may have chafed under the obligations and also from having to sleep in a bed thisclose to his father every single endless night, but he paid attention and took it all seriously.

And then?
King Henry VII died.
Prince Henry became King Henry VIII.
But the day before that?
He married Catherine.
Henry VIII, meet Catherine of Aragon.
Just like something out of a fairy tale - Catherine of Aragon, still beautiful (and really nice skin from all those years out of the sun) glowed and rode to the Abbey next to her new husband.

Henry VIII, atop his new throne, was pleasantly surprised to find his new friend, a big older boy, a boy who knew his way around school named Thomas Wolsey, just flat-out did his homework for him. 
Like all of his homework, his classwork, even wrote in his planner for him; no kidding, Cardinal? 
No kidding my son. Just sign here.
And here.
Here as well.
(tsk'd and gazed heavenward for a few seconds) 
And here.

With all his new free time, thanks to Cardinal Wolsey, the new king took to extreme sports done mostly on horseback to make up for the years his father had kept him Under. His. Extremely. Heavy. Thumb. - and he and Catherine had babies, lots of them. 
Life was tough on babies in the sixteenth century; the only of their several babies who survived infancy was the Princess Mary, born in 1516.
Princess Mary daughter of Henry VIII
"Darling! Daddy loves his Princess so, so mu . . . wait, who was that?!"
Enter: Anne Boleyn.
Image result for anne boleyn
And it's not an exaggeration to say the paradigm shift was immediate and staggering.

Henry VIII, disgusted that the nice church he went to every day told him he couldn't dump his current wife just because she'd grown old and he'd found someone young; everybody sympathized with Henry's lack of a male heir, but (shoulder shrug). . . 
So Henry VIII cut the rope tying England's religion to the church in Rome.
And England was . . . free.

Image result for Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I - against odds stacked unbelievably high, inherited the throne and ruled England in 'the Golden Age,' 
Anne Boleyn married him in January of 1533, she was made queen, she had a little daughter, Princess Elizabeth - and no sons.
Henry VIII had sacrificed a lot to marry Anne Boleyn, and when her baby girl lived while her baby boys died, Henry was quick to cut the neck of the mother-of-no-living-boys he'd married.

That was in 1536.
Henry VIII remarried almost immediately after having his wife executed and his wife before that dead as well.
He was pleasantly distracted with his new queen, Jane Seymour.
He was almost too busy to notice all the fuss going on over religion.
But not really, because it was all anyone could talk about.
It just wouldn't go away (spoiler alert: it didn't go away for roughly the next twenty-five years.) 
Jane Seymour + Henry VIII = Prince Edward.
Henry VIII + Prince Edward - Jane Seymour = Sad Family.
She died within days of giving England its heir.
Henry VIII's son, Prince Edward, who lived in an apartment setup equally as grand as his father's. 

Three more wives: one outlived the other two, plus the king, plus Prince Edward - Anne of Cleves. Catherine Howard, cousin of Anne Boleyn, different crime same punishment. Catherine Parr, patient and made sure her husband the king never ever ever had even the teensiest reason to get irritated with her.
Portrait length color image of Henry VIII aka. Henry VIII of England,
Henry Tudor, by George Stuart.
"Lookin' hawt, Henry. No. I mean it." 

When Henry VIII died 28 January 1547, he was heavily overweight.
All the heavy muscle of his young days had run to fat; he had injuries that were so disgusting you don't even want to know more, and p.s. - nobody in his entire life had ever treated him as anything other than their ruler. 
It wasn't a state of health conducive to family life.
He left behind the tip of the iceberg of family distrust, dysfunction, treachery, betrayal, with a surprisingly heavy dose of scruples here and there. 
His legacy, from a political standpoint, just . . . was.
Henry VIII inherited his crown from a father who'd cut that crown from the head of the king who'd worn it, briefly and unpopularly, Richard III.
The legacy of that cast a long shadow over Henry VIII, who could never in a million years top the story of how his father killed a king in battle over the crown. 

In death, Henry VIII was similarly less than Henry VII, who pre-planned, pre-approved and pre-paid for the tomb he and his wife still share, and as tombs go, it's a very nice, tasteful, royal tomb.Image result for henry vii tomb
Henry VIII died, having not pre-planned, pre-approved, nor pre-paid for his own tomb.
He has a flat marble slab marking where he'd been chucked with his third wife, Jane Seymour and had, somewhere along the years, picked up a teeny tiny baby who was buried there decades after Henry and Jane. 
Henry was more the impulsive type than the planning type. 

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