28 June 1491 – Henry VIII is born

Jun28,2019 #Henry VIII

On this day in Tudor history, 28th June 1491, Elizabeth of York, queen consort of King Henry VII, gave birth to her third child and second son at the Palace of Placentia (Greenwich Palace). The little boy was baptised “Henry” at the Church of the Observant Friars, Greenwich, by Richard Foxe, Bishop of Exeter and Lord Privy Seal.

At the time of his birth, Henry was “the spare” and so was not expected to become king. However, his brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, died in 1502, making Henry heir to the throne. He became king on 21st April 1509 and ruled for over 37 years, until his death on 28th January 1547.

In today’s “on this day in Tudor history” video, I give an overview of this Tudor king, his life and his reign.

I’m doing these videos on a daily basis for the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society Channel, so do head on over to the channel to catch up or to have a browse. There is also a playlist on “Questions about Anne Boleyn”. Please do consider subscribing to the channel too as it helps other Tudor history lovers find my videos – click here – thank you!

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5 thoughts on “28 June 1491 – Henry VIII is born”

    Does anyone else ever have this question in their mind- If Henry had had the training that his brother Arthur received while growing up to learn kingship would he have become the same monarch known to history, a better monarch or it would have made no difference. I realize this is moot. Just curious.

    1. Yes I have thought that. I listened to an interesting Podcast regarding the life of Arthur Tudor and how he was being prepared to be a King. When little Edmond Tudor died and then Arthur that left Henry as the only male heir of the very new Tudor dynasty. Elizabeth of York died trying to have another son and Henry VII only tried half heartedly to marry again. So Henry if I am not mistaken, Henry was never sent to his own residence…he was watched over very carefully as the only living male heir.
      So, yes Michael Wright is a moot point and we will never know…but it’s interesting to think about.

    2. Henry quite possibly would have entered the church a career usually chosen known for the second son of the monarch, or the third or fourth, depending on how many sons he had, the eldest as we know by law was his heir, but Henry I feel would have found this stifling and tedious, he was a dreadful show off with a need for acclaim and adoration, and his need for outdoor physical pursuits would have meant he would have made a most reluctant cardinal or bishop, still as a child of the reigning monarch he received the same education as Arthur and his other siblings so when Arthur died he was more than ready to govern, he had a fertile cultured mind but as you say Michael he had not been schooled for kingship, Henry V11 had Arthur tutored in the right way as King, that must have meant no dipping into the treasury and wasting it on fruitless wars, that meant being careful and cautious and diplomatic on the world stage, Henry when he came to the throne he was eager to go to war with France why? Because foolishly he wanted to be another Henry V, that was something I am sure Arthur would never have done and their father Henry V11 would have been horrified about, every time a war was declared it was the poor who suffered, after Arthur’s death Henry V11 was paranoid about the same fate befalling his second son, so he was forced to live a very sheltered life, a fate Henry must have found unendurable, he could only give his young son fatherly advice, which I doubt Henry took much notice of, he had not the time to properly school him as the next King, so would Henry V111 have been a different King had he been born the first and tutored properly for that path, who can say? I think he would have been maybe not so rash, he would have realised his dream of conquering France was just that – a dream, but I doubt it would have made much difference to his sad marital history, his father at the end of his life asked him to marry the young Katherine of Aragon and Henry was pleased to do so, but his quest for a son and the subsequent fall out that followed, his discarding of his Spanish bride, his own brothers widow the break from Rome and the tumult it brought on the kingdom, all that was because of his obsession with Anne Boleyn and the male heir he thought she could give him, and that I feel Henry V11 and Elizabeth of York would have been horrified at, even so they would have understood his need for a son, when he first became King he had the great Cardinal Wolsley to govern for him so he did not have to involve himself with dreary matters of state, like a child he indulged himself in the things he loved most, feasting sports masquerades and women, it’s very difficult to say would he have been a better or different King had he been schooled for kingship from an early age, because he felt his reign was blighted by the lack of a son, interesting thought though!

  2. Many happy returns to our most illustrious Lord King Henry V111 of blessed memory! May you be having a ball in the afterlife with all your poor unfortunate wives and they are giving you a right ear bashing, I am not sure if the correct term is to love or hate this most famous monarch of ours, I would term it rather love to hate him, he is certainly an enigma and his scandalous marital life was the talk of England and Europe at the time, had it not been for the execution of his two wives, the death of one of them seen as a convenience so he could marry another, and the second who was just a young girl I am sure history would have been much kinder to him, no other King executed his wives and he turned not a hair when Anne Askew was racked, and later burned a truly horrific death, I am also a bit dubious by the claim he executed 70,000 people, he did have many killed it’s true, the uprisings in the north and the Carthusian monks, the sacking of the monasteries none of these did Henry much credit, I feel the execution of his child bride Catherine Howard who turned hysterical with fear at her imprisonment, and her lady in waiting Lady Jane Rochford whose death was merely because she was obeying her mistress, yet can also be termed treasonous as she withheld information about the queens doings, the breakdown she suffered and yet the King passed a bill allowing him to execute insane people, really showed the world to what cruelty this King was capable of, the lack of mercy which was apparent in the way he discarded wives old friends of his and important statesman like Sir Thomas More, a cultured man a scholar whom the King had known all his life, it was said of him in his old age ‘he had brought himself so low by his cruelty and lust that no lady of honour would venture near him’, his obsession for a son that caused innocent blood to be shed and yet, there was a lot more to this King than the man with the ‘Humpty Dumpty face of nightmare, a stain of blot and grease on the kingdom of England’ as Sir Charles Dickens wrote of him, he is credited with being the founder of the navy and for the builder of fine palaces, his dream was to build such a one that it rivalled Fountainbleau in France, called Nonsuch Palace it sadly no longer exists yet in it’s day it’s magnificence was spoken of and was gifted to Lady Barbara Castelmaine in the 17th c, the translation of the bible into English so all his subjects could read it was another achievement, as the video states, I feel his greatest achievement however was the founding of the Church of England as it marked the first step towards the break with Rome who had been Englands religious master for over a thousand years, but it was done at a price and those who would not agree to Henry as Supreme Head were arrested and tried for treason, Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More both died, the Lady Mary his daughter also was forced to sign, he had both his daughters bastardised and he was only overjoyed with the birth of his youngest child, King Edward V1, he caused a lot of deaths by an unecessary war in France when he was first King and yet under his wives regency, Katherine of Aragon, a tremendous victory at Flodden was won, he was not always the obese tyrant of legend, his was tall slim and muscular when young as he was active and enjoyed sports, he excelled at horse riding and jousting, he wrestled he loved a game of tennis, on par with his outstanding vitality was his cultured brain which hailed him as a true Renaissance prince, he could speak several languages Latin one of them, he wrote poetry and music and was interested in theology which was encouraged by his second queen, he was fascinated by astrology and his court was said to be the most glorious in the world, no mean feat, visitors from abroad would write of its wonders and also of its king who was handsome genial and affectionate, merry affable and who loved to dress up and take part in masquerades, sadly the jousting he loved was extremely dangerous yet it was the sport of kings and it ultimately, led to his two injuries, one on his leg the other a head injury so severe he was said to be unconscious for several hours, the result was he became inactive and depression set in, he over ate maybe through boredom and it was said he developed diabetes in later life, his weight went on and in his final year he had to be winched onto his horse and had to be wheeled around his palaces, his leg was ulcerous and weeping and pus filled, no medics could treat him and the only cure was to lance the areas and blood let him, he had days and nights of unspeakable agony, the tight garters he wore probably excerbated the problem and he suffered from blinding headaches, he became crotchety and difficult and bad tempered, the typical cranky old person, yet what was more sinister was his paranoia and mood swings which could have been due to a mental imbalance of the brain, the frontal lobe injury which he suffered when jousting, Henry V111’s decline into mental and physical old age was horrific when he was only in his middle forties when he died, prematurely old and with the ghosts of two murdured wives behind him, there were also the ghosts of his other victims, there were the ghosts of the abandoned monasteries and abbeys decaying into wilderness, his father had been completely different, serious minded and tended to dress more like a clerk than a King, he nevertheless built up a stable country and when he died left her coffers very rich, riches which Henry V111 wasted in a fruitless war with France, he had dreamed of being like his hero and namesake Henry V, yet he did not win glory in battle like his predecessor, he is remembered for his six wives more than anything, chiefly for beheading two of them, his other achievements are not as well known to the ordinary person, the fact that most of his wives irritated him immensely is something that I am sure would make him scowl today that he is remembered chiefly through them, his fourth and sixth wife outlived him and his fourth led a quite contented life, Catherine Parr sadly married the philanderer Thomas Seymour and died in childbirth, she had not known happiness with the King, she must have been haunted by the memory of his other wives and lived in fear and dread while he was alive, fate gave us King Henry V111, his elder brother was the heir to his father’s throne and he had been robust enough, but fell ill to a disease which is debated today, there are a number of theories as to what afflicted him, his sad death left the path for his younger charismatic brother, but one wonders what sort of King Arthur would have made?

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