On this day in history, 28th June 1491, King Henry VIII was born. Happy 520th birthday, Henry! Whatever your opinion of him, our lives wouldn’t be the same if he’d never existed!
To celebrate the birthday of this iconic monarch, who is tyrant to some and hero to others, we have a guest article from Anne Boleyn Files visitor, Memory Gargiulo – thanks, Memory!
June 28 1491 – 520 years ago, Henry Tudor was born to King Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth (Plantagenet or Elizabeth of York) at Greenwich Palace in London. Known today as Henry VIII, this infant grew up to be one of the world’s most remembered monarchs.
I must confess that I LOVE Henry! This confession is odd only in that I am also a devoted fan of Anne Boleyn, fully believing in her innocence (but that is a story for a different day). Borrowing from Alison Plowden, Henry and Anne’s 10 year relationship was “the most remarkable courtship in English History”. Once Henry decided that Anne was the answer to his succession dilemma, he would stop at nothing to have her for his wife. After nearly 7 years, alienation of his first wife and breaking his allegiance to the Pope in Rome, Henry married Anne; only to have her beheaded 3 years later. Henry continued in short succession to marry 4 more times after Anne’s execution; each wife with her own unhappy ending.
I find his story to be one of absolute fascination to me. Henry is without a doubt one of the most recognized personalities in history. Most people can identify him as the obese monarch who had six wives and killed some of them while yielding a huge turkey leg. History tends to label him as a merciless tyrant with an unpredictable bad temper. However, more often than not, using the benefit of hindsight, historians tend to judge his entire existence by the last 20 years of his reign. I prefer to focus more on the events of his life and reign and how these events transformed him vibrant active youth to the depressed, angry man of his later years.
But on June 28, I will remember Henry VIII. While my family would be absolutely mortified if I tried to do an all out celebration complete with cake and a song, I’m sure that they will understand if I pause for a moment of silence! I will honor his memory for the story that has kept me interested for years, which I know inside and out but cannot stop hoping to find out something new about! I will thank him for taking that selfish stand that laid the first framework to allow me to attend a non-catholic church today. I will remember the people that he has brought into my life, especially Queen Anne Boleyn (and the lovely folks at the Anne Boleyn Files). I will reflect on the successes of his reign and remember the music loving, playful, jousting champion who never lost his belief in love and romance. Remembering him as a gorgeous, young Jonathan Rhys Myers also helps!
So, on June 28, love him or hate him, I hope you all will join me in wishing a “most happy” 520th birthday to King Henry VIII. Long Live the King!
Plowden, Alison. The House of Tudor. 2010 edition published by The History Press.