Henry VIII by Cornelis Matsys
Henry VIII by Cornelis Matsys
On 14 February 1547, Henry VIII’s coffin was taken to Windsor Castle for burial in St George’s Chapel after resting overnight at Syon Abbey. Apparently, some liquid leaked out of it on to the floor at Syon, and this was thought to fulfil the prophecy made by Franciscan friar William Peto in 1532.* He had preached in front of the King at Greenwich that “God’s judgements were ready to fall upon his head and that dogs would lick his blood, as they had done to Ahab.”

In the 19th century Agnes Strickland quoted “a contemporary document among the Sloane Collection” as saying:

“The king, being carried to Windsor to be buried, stood all night among the broken walls of Sion, and there the leaden coffin being cleft by the shaking of the carriage, the pavement of the church was wetted with his blood. In the morning came plumbers to solder the coffin, under whose feet — I tremble while I write it, was suddenly seen a dog creeping, and licking up the king’s blood. If you ask me how I know this, I answer William Greville, who could scarcely drive away the dog, told me, and so did the plumber also.”

You can read more about Friar Peto’s sermon in my article 31 March 1532 – Friar Peto’s Easter Sermon.

Notes and Sources

*Some give the date as 1533, others as 1535, but Chapuys reports Peto upsetting the King with a sermon on Easter Day 1532. (LP v.941)

  • Strickland, Agnes (1868) Lives of the Queens of England, from the Norman Conquest, in six volumes: Volume II, London, p443

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