21 April 1509 – The Accession of King Henry VIII

The new king, the young Henry VIII
The new king, the young Henry VIII
The King is dead, long live the King!

Fifty-two year old Henry VII died at Richmond Palace on the night of 21st April 1509, passing the throne on to his seventeen-year-old son, Henry. Henry VIII was crowned King on 24th June 1509, in a joint coronation with his new bride, Catherine of Aragon.

Henry VIII’s reign was seen as a new era, a fresh start for England. On the 27th April, the Spanish envoy Fuensalida reported Henry VII’s death, saying: “Henry VII’s death is now public knowledge because Henry VIII is in the Tower and has proclaimed a general pardon. He has released many prisoners and arrested all those responsible for the bribery and tyranny of his father’s reign. The people are very happy and few tears are being shed for Henry VII. Instead, people are as joyful as if they had been released from prison.”

He went on to report that the new king had ordered the arrest of the two officials responsible for collecting “the King’s monies” and that Henry VIII had “proclaimed that all those who feel they were wronged by either his father or his officials should present their reasons to his council so that amends can be made.”1 He saw the new king as one who wanted to fight bribery and corruption.

William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, who knew the new king well and who had been involved in his upbringing, wrote to Erasmus, the Renaissance humanist, scholar and theologian, in 1509 about the new king:

“When you know what a hero now shows himself, how wisely he behaves, what a lover he is of justice and goodness, what affection he bears to the learned, I will venture that you will need no wings to make you fly to behold this new and auspicious star. If you could see how all the world here is rejoicing in the possession of so great a prince, how his life is all their desire, you could not contain your tears of joy. The heavens laugh, the earth exults, all things are full of milk, of honey, of nectar. Avarice is expelled from the country. Liberality scatters wealth with bounteous hand. Our King does not desire gold or gems or precious metals, but virtue, glory and immortality.”2

Henry VIII was a strapping lad of 6’3, he was handsome, he was well-educated, he was intelligent, he was charming, he was athletic, he loved music and poetry, he was a knight who loved jousting and he desired “virtue, glory and immortality”. How England must have rejoiced at this young man becoming king.

Click here to read about the death of Henry VII and John Fisher’s account of his last days.

Notes and Sources

  1. Starkey, David (2008) Henry: Virtuous Prince, p264, citing LP I i, 11/10i & ii, Correspondencia de Fuensalida, 517.
  2. Lipscomb, Suzannah (2010) 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII, p28-29

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7 thoughts on “21 April 1509 – The Accession of King Henry VIII”
  1. Such a shame when you consider how warm hearted and generous he was only to sink into such depths of cruelty and tyranny in his later years, at the start of his reign people were so happy and optimistic, and at the end all there was to show for his achievements was a divided kingdom, two wives lying dead in a chapel, hundreds of men and women slaughtered, monasteries destroyed and religious strife, instead of the Golden Age they thought his reign would bring, that was left to his daughter, who in her turn delivered what she promised.

    1. To Christine

      It is easy to be warmhearted and generous when it costs you nothing. It does tell nothing of your character. It is only when you must chose between your own urges and the benefit of the others, your real character is tested and revealed.

      As for the Golden Age, the people always wait for it when the new ruler ascends the throne. It is a fantasy that if Henry had just let the things be as they had been, all would have been well.

      Also in other countries the new world was born in violence.

  2. usually I’m not like bashing Henry VIII, for more wrong things he has done, but it is “sad” and ironic that he spent all fortune his father left, in less than seven years, so why not return the money, if he thought was unfair? he was more than happy to spend it all.

  3. I think Henry really did show some good signs of being a great ruler in the beginning such as his education,religious learning,personal charisma and sportsmanship but I think perhaps with some of the examples he had to follow perhaps contributed in who he later became.I think in his father he saw a king governing England in the last years of his reign with fits of rage,illness and general distrust of those around him and then add in not so necessarily good tutors with bad morals and I suppose you could have the makings of a disastrous king.I’m sure there were lots of things that ultimately made him who he became but what a bad start to begin with.

  4. Henry was very young when he came to the throne.But he already had ,had a fantastic education,but that does not mean he was a wise person.He squandered a massive fortune left by his father Henry V11 .He spent a fortune on Anne alone besides what he spent on wars.It is debateable if it was the wound to the head he got jousting or maybe a combination of that and the pox as well.I find it hard to believe that all his wives could not carry a healthy baby to term or if they died the child died within a short time of being gborn.To me it seems the fault lay with Henry.Katherine of Arragon ,Anne,And Katherine Howard especially seemed to be very healthy and came from healthy stock.I really believe Jane who gave him his longed for son would not have lasted to long as his beloved wife,I think she would have gone the way of the others.H

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