21 April 1509 – Henry VIII is king!


On this day in history, 21st April 1509, King Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, died at Richmond Palace. It was the end of the king who’d beaten Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485. The crown passed on to his son, also Henry, who became King Henry VIII and who ruled until 1547.

Read more…

I’ve made 60-second history videos on both these kings and you can view them on the 60 Second History playlist of the Anne Boleyn Files YouTube channel.

Related Post

9 thoughts on “21 April 1509 – Henry VIII is king!”
  1. Henry VII is rather underappreciated. He faced several rebellions, plots and conspiracies during his reign, but he defeated them all and held onto his throne. He was the first king since 1422 to be peacefully succeeded by his son. Thomas Penn wrote a fascinating biography of Henry that I would recommend. He tends to be overshadowed by Henry VIII and Elizabeth, unfairly I think.

    1. I agree, as the founder of the Tudor dynasty and as the man who fought Richard III and kept rebellions and pretenders at bay he really is underappreciated. Have you read the Sean Cunningham or S B Chrimes ones? I haven’t yet.

      1. Hi Claire, no I haven’t. Sadly, many people will think of Henry VII as the king who murdered the Princes in the Tower, as the king who raped Elizabeth of York, as the king who murdered Richard III.

        1. I also agree. Henry Tudor had his faults, especially in his last few years, but he is often overlooked. There is nothing to support the idea about to be flashed on our television when the White Princess arrives of Henry raping Elizabeth of York or that she was a weapon for revenge. I don’t believe Henry Vii is an alternative candidate for killing the Princes and we know Richard iii wasn’t murdered. Being killed in battle, fighting in the press of your enemies always resulted in several fatal wounds, although one was from above it was not delivered by Henry who was nowhere near Richard. Richard, on the otherhand came rather close to killing Henry, taking out William Brandon and John Cheney, before being unhorsed, most likely falling in the ditch and marsh. Surrounded by Stanley and several hundred Welsh and Bretons, his helmet lost, Richard and his closest supporters were cut down. Henry was surrounded by pikemen, some several hundred yards away.

          Henry did indeed have some juicy conspiracies to cope with, having to defend his new crown a year after winning it at Stoke Field, facing at least two major ‘pretenders ‘, the Warbeck years, disillusioned nobles, plots at home and abroad and possible invasion. His marriage to Elizabeth was a political coup in itself and secured Yorkist support. I am not entirely convinced they were romantic or in love, but they seem to have found a bond and had some affection at least and the marriage worked. There is a notion today that Henry slept with Elizabeth before the wedding, but raped her? No!!! Where do authors get these daft ideas? Henry also made sensible foreign policy. He settled with Scotland and made a match there for his daughter Margaret and with the new kingdom of Spain for Arthur with Katherine of Aragon. In this he was also strengthening the House of Lancaster on the throne as Katherine was from one of the two senior branches of the family. He invaded and then made a sensible treaty with France and ended their threat to our shipping. He brought scholars to court, educated his children in the latest knowledge and, despite his later reputation for being a miser spent quite a bit of money on modernisation of many royal buildings. He brought the troublesome nobles to heal and ended ‘bastard feudalism ‘ so they didn’t have huge private armies and built the wonderful Lady Chapel with the dynastic tombs in Westminster Abbey. Yes, his fines and monetary controls in London made his tax collection unpopular, but it had a purpose: order and control. Henry also attacked corruption through the Star Chamber. Although this gained a reputation for harshness, it was actually fair and anyone could seek justice against government officials there. Henry was deeply affected by the loss of Elizabeth and Arthur and did become more insular and suspicious and withdrawn, but he did have the one and only tournament held at the Tower of London. He is definitely overlooked and underappreciated. His son Henry Viii was a young dazzling star and then went on to unravel every connection with Europe and Scotland, have six wives and tear the place upside down. Of course a more normal King was going to get eclipsed. Henry vii left England peacefully secure and prosperous and Henry Viii a load of money which he then spent. (O.K we got a large navy out of part of it and several palaces, but the rest he wasted)

    2. When describing the accomplishments of Henry VII, we must give credit to the guiding hand of his formidable mother, Margaret Beaufort.

  2. A good way to learn more about Henry VII is to watch the series ‘ The Shadow of the Tower’ (which is available on DVD or can be found on Youtube).

    Yes, some parts are fictionalized for dramatic purposes, but it is largely historically accurate.

    The series is excellent in humanizing Henry VII, a king who is often unfairly described as cold and unfeeling.

  3. Henry V11 was a clever unemotional King who when he died left England a stable wealthy country, he mourned his queen when she died during complications brought on with childbirth and guarded his heir Henry V111 very strictly, the death of Arthur at so young an age was devastating to both his parents and left the way for his younger brother, in looks he resembled his mother Margaret Beaufort and was said to be tall fair and handsome, I believe he did grow to love Elizabeth his wife as she was beautiful and pliable and the people rejoiced at the union of York and Lancaster, he founded the Tudor dynasty and it’s true people have tended to overlook this significant monarch in favour of his glittering son, the much married Henry V111 and his equally glittering daughter Elizabeth 1st, yet without him there would have been no Tudor dynasty at all, his hold on the throne was tenuous, deriving from an illigetimate bloodline and when he was born there was no idea at all that this little boy who was born posthumasly would one day give his name to an age, he was in exile for most of his life and his mother was so ill at his birth she could have no more children ever, his father selfishly wanted an heir and slept with his mother who was just 13 at the time, not caring wether he endangered her life, little did he realise this unborn child of his would forge a dynasty and give us our most infamous monarch, King Henry V111.

  4. Henry Viii must have appeared like a blast of fresh air, a real force of nature when he burst forth onto the scene. He was 6″ 4, gigantic to most people, had a huge personality, was handsome and fair red hair (sorry not being great with describing hair tones) had bright eyes, good humour and the physique of an athlete. The ladies watching him on the day of his coronation probably half fell out of windows, fawning over him. Henry could also play to the audience. He could lap it up and he knew how to accept flattering remarks. He was charming and easy company. Katherine of Aragon was his bride of choice and the future looked bright. Our two shining stars were well matched and beautiful. You can just imagine how people felt uplifted by them. We know that it all went wrong and why. We know how Henry would change into a tyrant, but here at the start of his reign there was nothing to suggest this future. Even his execution of Epsom and Dudley was a popular move and made no stain on Henry’s character as they were brutal and extortionate. He only made one two other political executions in the first two decades of his reign. I am not being dismissive here, merely putting his early years in context compared to many others. He was hardly anything compared to how he would change from the mid 1530s. On this day and on his coronation, however, all that was a world away. To those who witnessed these early years this was an era of much promise, a marriage that seemed secure and which people hoped would be happy and fruitful and a King who could rule, with effective councillors and build a secure, weathly country and dynasty. Henry Viii was only the second Tudor, the first son in 88 years to take over in peace and it all looked good. It’s a great pity that a whole hearted, if genuine need for a son would eventually ensure it all turned into a nightmare.

    1. Yes he was so handsome and cheerful and affable, when he appeared to his subjects the crowd would pull him onto the ground and strip him of his garments, he took it all with the sunny nature he had, he loved to disguise himself and take people unawares, he was a right show off being very vein and loved to joust and could ride for hours, not only did this young king have the looks and physique of a god, he also was blessed with a clever mind and could write and play music, he spoke several languages and was the ideal Renaissance prince, he resided over the most opulent court in the world, a Burgundian visitor described it as such and at its helm was this glorious young monarch, the people loved him and he basked in their adulation, he had Wolsley to take over the reigns of government and he could enjoy himself at the joust, at banquets and hunting, he appears to have loved Katherine in a rather romantic way, she was older than him and he possibly cherished the idea of being her saviour, chivalry always appealed to Henry and he no doubt liked to think of himself as her rescuer, Katherine was a buxom pretty woman with glorious auburn hair that fell right down her back, she loved fine clothes and jewellery and dancing, she was no dowdy nun and they seemed well matched, sadly the hopes the nation had with this golden couple never came to fruition, all their sons were born dead or died not long after, she was five years his senior and was going through the menopause, Henry after many years of frustration began to see Katherine as a bind and began to seriously consider divorcing her so he could get a son on a younger woman, Katherine turned more and more to God and Henrys name was linked with a number of women, in the end her downfall was caused by a young woman who suddenly appeared at court after returning home from France, she was Henrys Achilles heel and completely turned his heart and his world upside down, in this dark eyed black haired girl he fell so deeply in love he risked his reputation, the love of his people, his prestige abroad and civil war, he caused untold suffering to his devoted wife of twenty years and young daughter, his character was undergoing a subtle change and he was becoming more and more removed from the sunny golden prince he had been, he squandered most of his fathers wealth which he had cleverly built up and caused religious strife in his kingdom, but people tend to remember the good bits and it is said that whatever he did, Henry never quite lost the affection of his people as the memory of the young merry King was never far from their thoughts, in the reign of his daughter Elizabeth her likeness to her father was commented on by her subjects and it was something she revelled in, the picture we have of Henry V111 is the one by Holbein, larger than life and God like he gazes out at us from the canvas, this the most famous painting of Henry V111 is something we have all seen, it was painted when he was in middle aged and you can see the marks of corpulence on his body, it is easy for us to forget he was called the most handsomest prince in Christendom and one Venetian visitor described his face as so beautiful it would become a pretty woman, he had the world at his feet and he hoped to make his mark on history as another Henry V, he dreamed of conquering France and having many fine sons, yet he achieved neither, what he did achieve however was being famous throughout the world and in the annals of history by having six wife’s, two he judicially murdured and it was said in his old age no lady of honour would go any were near him, that was his legacy however I think the English do look back on the story of this rogue and secretly like the fact he belongs to us, our history and our heritage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *