28 June 1491 – Birth of Henry VIII

Jun28,2011 #Henry VIII

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!

Memory Gargiulo
June, 2011

Plowden, Alison. The House of Tudor. 2010 edition published by The History Press.

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51 thoughts on “28 June 1491 – Birth of Henry VIII”
  1. Great post, Memory! And you’re exactly right – if not for Henry, Anne would not be a part of history either.

    Happy Birthday Henry! I still hope, however, that you are being chased all around in the great hereafter by six ladies with PMS.

      1. Thirded – what a great image of Henry and co in the hereafter! :>)

        Thanks Memory for expressing so succinctly the endless pull that Henry and his wives have… I was nodding my head all the way – except for the last bit – Jonathan Rhys Myers, nooo! :>P

    1. Amen! While I too have a fasination with H-8, I do believe he was one cold (&*&&^*^%^&, capable of cooly sending two wives to the executioner. Jeez, he could have had them poisoned and sent them off without all the drama, mess, and sensation. But if he had granted them a quieter and less horrific death, we woouldn’t have the drama today that keeps us hunting for new information. So Happy Birthday, Big H. If the ladies ever catch you, I hope they don’t hurt you too badly!

    1. Thanks Christine. Claire has these ideas … and I make them come to “life”. I imagine Henry would be out with the jet-set clubbing scene most of the time if he were around today.

      1. Yes I think Prince Harry and the Prince Harry who become HVIII would have had a great time clubbing and sporting together!

  2. I completely agree with you, I also love Henry, and let’s be honest, without him we wouldn’t know Anne Boleyn or the other wives or Mary and Elizabeth.

  3. Do not EVER publish a stupid picture like that again with a baseball cap…………….
    I am revolted.

    1. It’s actually very apt as Henry was the party King, the first few months of his reign were just one big party and he was always into lavish celebrations.

      1. Only one question, Claire – why the Yankees cap? Being from South Jersey I root for the Phillies. (Winners of the 2008 World Series; lost the title to the Yankees in 2009; will there be a rematch in 2011?)

        1. I don’t think Tim even knew it was a Yankees cap, I think he just searched for a baseball cap image and that’s what came up first!

  4. While I agree with much of what Memory says about Henry and continue to find his life and times extremely interesting, I can’t help but think that his actions also set in motion 500 years of bigotry and strife between the Christian religions in Britain which still continues to this day. Did he ever want that to happen? Was that ever his intention? I personally do not believe so, but it has caused a lot of unhappiness and trouble for many Brits. So, while I will wish him happy birthday and continue to be fascinated by all things Tudor, on behalf of the many generations of my family that suffered indignities simply because they were born into an unfavoured religion, I wish he had found another way.

    1. I don’t think that Henry is solely responsible for the strife between Catholicism and Protestantism as the Reformation had taken hold on the Continent and England would have been affected anyway even if Henry had not broken with Rome. France, for example, remained Catholic but still had religious problems, including the awful massacre of the Huguenots. Oh and then there was Spain with the Spanish Inquisition.

      1. No…… Henry wasn’t reponsible for all the religious trouble and strive in England, it escalated some what quicker maybe because of his love for Anne, but as Claire says it was abound in Europe already, it would have happened. Anyway there as always been religious conflict in England, and every other country since the begining of mankind no matter what name the faith has, so lets cut him some slack for his birthday. He wasn’t always a ‘Baddie’….. its a shame its mostly the bad things that bring him to mind though, but when you look at some other ‘notorious’ figures in history, he’s a meek pussycat!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAL 🙂

  5. I think while he did not want to create a haven for the Protestants , he did do so . I don not agree with he murder of the C atholics, but , what about the Inquisition? I believe that each to his own in private life and religious beliefs, But without the Reformation ,toleration of other beliefs would never have occurred and without the P rotestant s, history would have chaged dramatically.

  6. Happy Birthday, Henry!!!!

    I find Henry VIII a very interesting and intriguing historical figure and I also like to remember him as “Bluff King Hal, although he had his nasty side, too.

  7. I admit it… I baked him a cake and iced his likeness on top complete with a tudor rose and the faces of his wives. i have done this every year since i was 12 but this is the first time i have done it and it hasn’t been my parents it was flatmates who saw and ate it… Oh the Shame but it’s hard to break tradition.

    Happy Birthday Henry

    1. Wow Bassania – that’s impressive! Do you have a photo to share with the Anne Boleyn Files?? I love to hear about such Tudor inspired acts of devotion, especially so when done since childhood :>) I hope your flatmates were suitably appreciative!

      1. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture this year I left it on the table when I stepped out for FIVE minutes and when I came they had alreaady started eating it They only had to wait for me to get back with the candles but no despite the fact it had taken ALL Day and I had obviously worked hard on they still ate it, it wasn’t until they had finished it that they thought to ask about it and said I could just ‘whip up another one’ at least my family waited for it although they mocked me to help the time pass.
        Boys can be so rude, next time i look for a flat it will have at least one other girl.
        Sorry about my rant its always hard when i cut of my cakes especially when someone else does it before its even finished

        1. Bah, may the wrath of Henry v111 fall upon them for their sins – I’m sure he would know how to deal with your greedy, disrespectful flatmates. I hope they got indigestion at least…. :>)

  8. Love today’s post and all the comments. Love THE ANNE BOLEYN FILES!!!!!!

    Thanks, Claire for all your hard work.

    Linda Crane
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  9. Very nice article, Melody. It’s good to remember that no historical figure is as one-dimensional as hindsight often paints him/her to be; Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are two really good examples.

    For what my humble opinion is worth, I think your photo is amusing. Although I a little sad to know that Henry was a Yankees fan. 😉 (But that’s only because I am a Red Sox from birth.) That the cap is tilted at an angle is just too funny…

  10. Can’t help but feel a little sorry for Henry VIII. He’s not remembered as a chivalrous knight or for his battles in France or any of the things that he wanted to be remembered for. Instead, for all the effort he put into having a son, he is remembered largely for his duaghter. Happy brithday, but I hope that, joining the six wives chasing him are his two daughters — and that they give him what he gave them!

  11. I am curious. Was the selection of the Yankee cap deliberate? It seems so fitting! He would surely favor that team.

  12. Great article, Memory! I, too, love Henry and try to remember him as the young, optimistic, party-animal king who was open to Erasmus and Thomas More and a cultivator of chivalry, art and music. He truly was a Renaissance king, brilliant and accomplished. Today is also my grandson’s birthday so I’ll have a great excuse to bake a cake for them both! I love that Bassania has done so since she was 12. I love the picture! Henry would definitely have been a jet-setter in our day and had a great time of it. I think he truly loved life and enjoyed it for the first half anyway. And, he wanted to love the woman he married, which was a progressive idea for his time. He searched for that love. I think he found in Anne Boleyn but then, she didn’t give him the son he wanted. He was also used to cheating on his wife, being king and all. I don’t think he would have been faithful to Anne if she had given birth to a boy–but she wouldn’t have died in that horrible way. Happy Birthday, King Henry!

  13. haha love the picture with the baseball cap! classic! 😀 happy birthday good old Hal, hope your wives’ll haunt you for eternity! 😛 I guess Henry would rejoice in knowing how much people still talk about him these days. Legend.

  14. Simply said…..”Thank you, Claire for this most wonderful website.”
    In 1993 I had a heart transplant. My new heart, I was told, was from
    a young gentleman who came to Los Angeles on holiday. I am, therefore,
    as much an Englishman as I am an American.

    The real problem happens each July 4th….I’m never quite sure which
    country to root for!

    Best to you, Claire as well as all your “contributors”

  15. Tis a good and great picture. I like it so. I really do. 🙂 Thirty messages. WOW! I guess that I am the last but not least to post. Tis funny I was here earlier and there was next to no messages posted I come here now, now look at it, there is so much, so many. I think that the picture is a good caption for his life and way of being. Fits him to a T. I almost laughed when I saw it though as well as blush all at the same time 🙂

    Lastly I would like to wish his majesty a happy birthday! 🙂 Manye happye Returnes Of Thee day King Henry 🙂 My Lord My King Your Majesty Your grace 🙂

  16. Happy Birthday Henry! Although it was Anne who originally got me interested in Tudor history, I have spent many years reading all I could about Henry.

  17. Great article, Memory! I also am a Red Sox fan from birth (tho now live in the land of the Orioles), but I loved the picture anyway! Too funny!!! 🙂

    Today was my nephew’s 16th birthday, and I noted this on my FB page. Then, I mentioned King Henry’s 520th birthday as well! Hee…I couldn’t help myself.

    Kudos to Bassania who bakes a cake every year. Sorry it was eaten so quickly, but with guys as roommates, well…I can see it happening all too well. (Loved your description of it; felt like a sitcom to me. Very funny, though I can see why you’d be frustrated.)

    I kind of have a love/hate relationship with “Big H”, myself. Love his charisma, his larger-than-life-ness, think he would have been quite “HAWT” in his youth to early middle age, and I do think he is a fascinating psychological/medical study, BUT I hate what he did to my Anne (and to his other wives, too). Still…he did bring her to our attention, history-wise, and he also built up the British navy and gave us “Big Liz”, so…..he wasn’t all bad! 🙂

    So glad to have you guiys at the Anne Boleyn Files to talk about Henry and Anne to! Love this site.

  18. Cancerian, eh? That explains a lot. hahaha. I’m Cancerian, and I know what a moody, temperamental bi-atch I can be. hehe

  19. Just to say that the picture on this article was created by me (Tim, Claire’s husband) and that the NY on the cap is purely incidental.

    Full permission was granted by King Henry for this image, however he did specifically asked me to point out that there are many baseball teams in the world, and he is not associated with any specific team. Generally he prefers jousting anyway.

    Glad you all enjoyed the picture and have taken it for the joke that it is supposed to be 😉

  20. Hi Claire!
    I found the picture of Henry with baseball cap very interesting. Interesting in that I can place Henry into to current day image.

    If it was not for Henry, I would not be able to continue with life (being divorced).

    I am a happy member of the Church of England and could never imagine being happier in the alternative. I also went to fantastic Church of England, public schools.
    All of this would not be possible if not for Henry.
    However, I can not condone what Henry did to Anne and Catherine. I think that Anne would have been successful whether she married Henry or not. Her life being spared.
    Thank you again for a wonderful article.
    Regards Alison Morton.

  21. I must say that I love the picture! I can picture the young Henry going around to bars and trying to pick up on girls. The young Henry was a more fun loving kind of guy. When compared with other rulers of his time, I do not think he was better or worse than the rest of them. I think the Reformation was bound to happen and cause people to have a difficult time making any changes. It seems to me that change causes stress and a belief system can not be overturned quickly. I am not surprised that people went through a period of being partway Catholic and Protestant. Giving up old beliefs is hard.

  22. I love the picture. Happy belated 520th birthday Henry!! I hope wherever you are in the spirit world, you have found peace and are having a great party.

    I loved Johnathan Rys-Myers (partly because he is uncannily like my late brother) and he portrayed Henry’s personality really well. But I do think his colouring was completely wrong and they made him too slim all the way through, just to suit the American ideal of ‘everybody must be thin and beautiful’, which is unrealistic.

  23. Thank you Claire and Tim.
    I love the hat. He looks like the fans I see at the games. Henry would have loved baseball. I did take pause when I saw the 520. I thought it might be his weight. Sorry couldn’t resist.
    Happy Birthday Henry!

  24. Julz, it may well be that keeping Henry thinner than he should have been was seen as a way of keep US audiences interested in the show. Yes, I think there is a pressure to be thin that is unrealistic. But other countries are just as bad. Twiggy was an English girl and England has produced models like Kate Moss or even Natalie Dormer, who is very thin, Kiera Knightely also looks like she does not eat much. I do not think that Kate Middleton, was ever over a size 2. You just can not blame one country for the craze to be thin. It is all over the place.

  25. Love this post!!! I’ve been fascinated with Henry since I was little and my love for him seems to get stronger everyday. My sister says I have a crush on him. lol (to have a crush on a man who is 520 is not weird at all right? Lol) But let’s just say even hearing someone mention him brings a big smile to my face and a moment of happiness. So without him my love for history would probably be nonexistent. So I must take a moment and thank His Majesty for being such an amazing person and a truly fascinating historical figure. 🙂 and I must say I truly hope after this life that I shall spend some time with him once again (for I believe I have in a past life) so until then I shall do great amounts of reading and research on him to fill the Henry shape hole in my heart. Lol

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