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Henry and the forum
August 4, 2012
3:46 pm
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Maggyann
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I have just been commenting on Clare’s post on the home page about Anne and her fascination for us all which made me think of Henry and how I feel about him and am just as fascinated by him as I am by Anne and to a lesser extent the other wives and characters of the time. I know that most of the board (or perhaps all of the board) feel quite negatively when it comes to Henry but I just thought I’d ask if anyone else other than little me actually quite likes Henry?
My initial interest in the Tudors at school began when we covered Henry with the wives being nothing more than extras in his story – obviously I have expanded my view somewhat but I still do have fond feelings for the ‘Bluff old Hal’. I even have his picture (a print obviously) in a heavy gilt frame in my front room………………………Embarassed

Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves - Boudica addressing the tribes Circa AD60

August 4, 2012
4:46 pm
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Boleyn
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Good question Maggie.. I suppose if we take all the nasty bits of Henry out of this equation I think we would be left with a pathetic blob of quivering smelly jelly. In his early days Henry did show some promise of being a good hearted fair minded ruler, but even then he showed that he had a sadistic and mean streak too, but it was more or less kept in check. I feel personally that his treatment of Empson and Dudley was a little below the belt to say the least. His father appointed them as his tax collectors and in that they did a good job.. When Henry 7th took the throne England was messy financially but not to the point of bankcrupcy, so Henry Senior had to rebuild the econamy. The methods Henry senior used to extract taxes from his people were not popular but effective. If memory served it worked something like this: He asked his Nobelmen to pay say £100 if the nobel coughed up the money like £100 was just pocket change he asked them for more. If the nobelman had difficulty or seemed reluctant to pay it, and begged for more time to shell out. Henry Senior took it that they were hiding something and asked for more. A catch 22 situation..
Anyway Henry Junior had them executed for mearly carrying out Henry senior’s orders.. I often wonder if H Junior regretted his actions in later life after he squandered all that his father had built up.
As far as Henry went his reign started out well enough. He married COA, and was seen as the rescuing hero, COA was popular with the people, and for the first 10 or so years he seemed to be ok, but to be honest he didn’t really acheive a lot.. He had dreams of granduer but lacked the courage and balls to carry out his actions. COA perhaps brought that home to him with her defeat against the Scots whilst he was poncing about in France.
Again if memory serves Henry had captured a few French Dukes and sent them back to England to be ransomed back to the French. At the Same time COA had desimated the Scots army and finished off the Scottish king once and for all. Henry sent COA a letter saying “here you go wife see that the French men are fed and housed well and we’ll get a bit of money off the French King.” The Duke to Longeville being one the captives was also Louis’s Proxy when Mary Tudor was married to the French king..
In return COA sent Henry a letter saying “You send me a live Duke I send you the coat of the dead Scottish King” “I had thought to send you his body but our soldiers wouldn’t stomach it”
Henry was probably well annoyed being outshone by a woman, Queen or not.
Henry really was a cowardly little runt, there was in my opinion only 2 things that he did that were right.. Sorting out the Church and dying.
If we could travel back through time I’d like to give him such a kicking for ruining the lives of six woman and making everyone else’s life a complete misery…

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 4, 2012
5:45 pm
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Maggyann
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Hi Bo
I really have to take issue ref COA and the Scots. She did nothing, she may well have planned to or meant to but in the end she did nothing, Surrey and the men sent to do battle did the job not COA. She may have written a good letter but that doesn’t make her the victor of the battle.
As for Empson and Dudley, it was not simply a case of nasty Henry sending them for execution when ‘all’ they had done was follow out the orders of his father. They were hated by the nobles and the people. It was one of the first things that happened where Henry was led or forced by those about him to see an end of them both. Empson in particular had really raked it in during his tenure as tax collector and used his knowledge of law and his wits to hold impromptu ‘courts’ to wring ever more money out of the very poor. Their executions helped set a firm foundation for the new reign and were sought not by Henry initially but by the nobles and the people.
Henry started the ‘modernisation’ of England, he did do a lot that is often ignored because of the darker side which probably makes for a better story I suppose but I believe history is as unfair to him as it is to Anne or any of them in the careful selection of which records/ chronicles/ papers/ statements to be accepted and pushed to the fore or sent on down through the years.
We are all so quick to say this that or the other is unproven or to ignore this that or the other in the case of Anne or any of the others why cannot Henry be given the same courtesy?

Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves - Boudica addressing the tribes Circa AD60

August 4, 2012
6:42 pm
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Louise
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I think that Henry is a fascinating person, but that doesn’t mean that I like him. He fascinates me because of his cruelty, egotism and barbarity. I cannot understand how anyone could do what he did, and therefore I do think him fascinating, but not in a good way.
His actions throughout his reign are not unproven, which is why he is criticised and why many people find his actions so difficult to excuse.
The Duke of Buckingham, Thomas More, John Fisher, Anne Boleyn, George Boleyn, Henry Norris, Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, Henry Howard, Nicholas Carew, the Carthusian monks, Catherine Howard, Thomas Culpepper, Francis Dereham, Elizabeth Barton, Henry Courtney, Thomas Cromwell, Lady Rochford, Margaret Pole……………
I can’t ignore this. His actions and his legacy cannot be compared to that of Anne Boleyn.

August 4, 2012
7:21 pm
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Boleyn
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Maggyann said

Hi Bo
I really have to take issue ref COA and the Scots. She did nothing, she may well have planned to or meant to but in the end she did nothing, Surrey and the men sent to do battle did the job not COA. She may have written a good letter but that doesn’t make her the victor of the battle.
As for Empson and Dudley, it was not simply a case of nasty Henry sending them for execution when ‘all’ they had done was follow out the orders of his father. They were hated by the nobles and the people. It was one of the first things that happened where Henry was led or forced by those about him to see an end of them both. Empson in particular had really raked it in during his tenure as tax collector and used his knowledge of law and his wits to hold impromptu ‘courts’ to wring ever more money out of the very poor. Their executions helped set a firm foundation for the new reign and were sought not by Henry initially but by the nobles and the people.
Henry started the ‘modernisation’ of England, he did do a lot that is often ignored because of the darker side which probably makes for a better story I suppose but I believe history is as unfair to him as it is to Anne or any of them in the careful selection of which records/ chronicles/ papers/ statements to be accepted and pushed to the fore or sent on down through the years.
We are all so quick to say this that or the other is unproven or to ignore this that or the other in the case of Anne or any of the others why cannot Henry be given the same courtesy?

This is true.. The execution of Dudley and Empson was a seal stamp of H8 reign it was his way of telling the people H8 is here and here to stay until called by a higher power.
Yes I also agree that H8 did start to bring England out of the dark ages, but if Anne hadn’t have shown him Tindale or he had been ready to listen to a new way of thinking nothing would have happened. Thomas More started the idea of freedom of speech..
COA was directing the traffic about the Scottish scuffle, but in the end she was given the credit, because she was ruler of the Kingdom whilst Henry was playing at being a soldier. She gave the orders and appointed the people she thought best served the post. Yes she was in London the whole time the Scottish King was chucking his caber and soldiers about, but this was her victory.
If H8 had died in France would James 5th have ruled England as well as Scotland?
I suppose Henry should be given a little credit for bringing us out of the dark ages. As a King that was quite an acheivement, and certainly that suggests that he had a modern outlook on life and wanted to move forward and try to give the people a better way of life. But as a man he was a craven coward and bully who was only happy when everyone else was totally misable.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 4, 2012
11:53 pm
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Olga
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I’m not having a go Maggy, but saying Catherine didn’t defeat the Scots is like saying every other female Monarch who didn’t actually take arms in the battle didn’t have a victory. It’s not really fair.
Henry, I think, can be given as much courtesy as he doled out.
His father left him a rich man, he bankrupted the kingdom and stole money from monasteries. He left the poor without means of alms or healing when he destroyed monasteries, he lefts Nuns and Monks and beggars. He murdered people and then when he lamented his actions he tried to place the blame on others. He treated his wives and daughters abominably. The one wife he called his “true wife” he left alone to die in horrible pain while he went off hunting because, as always, Henry couldn’t face death. He was so deluded in the end he mentioned “children he might have by other wives” in his will while he was married to Katherine Parr.
He was mad. I don’t know if Henry did more for arts and universities than any other Monarch, I don’t profess to have that knowledge. But Henry started the Church of England to defy the Pope and to get a divorce, not because he was leaning towards the new religion. he essentially kept everything Catholic, it wasn’t until Edward’s reign that England began to truly turn Protestant, so I’m not giving Henry any credit for that. I’ll give it to the people who died for their faith, for those who were smuggling in banned books at their own peril. Not to Henry. Henry just wanted to be Head of the Church because he thought he was as important as God.

August 5, 2012
12:01 am
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Olga
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I just re-read that and noticed how angry I sound. Sorry, Henry gets me rather riled up. I’m sure your picture of him is very nice Maggy, which portrait is it?

August 5, 2012
12:16 pm
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Neil Kemp
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Where does one start with Henry? Firstly, I always thought the dark ages started with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and concluded around 1000 AD, so I don’t think we can give Henry any credit for that. We do like our villians to wear black and the the good guys to wear white, so the thought that an intelligent “renaissance man” who was capable of promoting the arts and education could be a monster is a difficult concept to enbrace. Henry, in his youth, was considered attractive, was well educated and allowed the arts to flourish, being an author, poet, composer and musician himself. He expanded educational opportunities to many and fostered humanist learning. He expanded the Navy (but only by way of the number of ships) and was shrewd enough to seek political alliances in order to both protect and expand England’s domain. This is where we get the great paradox that was Henry. How could an intelligent man capable of such good do so many acts of cruel barbarity which would lead to him being thought of as an egotistical, cruel and heartless monster. In short, a tyrant. Most of his cruelest acts happened after his accident of 1536, could this therefore be used as a form of mitigation for his acts thereafter? I don’t believe so. Henry’s ambitions had been held in check by Wolsey, who effectively kept the brakes on, once he had gone Henry was given free reign to have his ego pampered by his new advisors who had no reason to argue against what Henry wanted through fear, self-interest, or both.
Henry ruined the country through personal ambition and greed, draining all of the financial resources his father had obtained. This would not be unique in a sovereign and indeed many of the actions Henry took in the early years of his reign would be considered normal at that time, although perhaps cruel and ruthless by todays standards.
Henry considered himself a humanist and yet was responsible for the deaths of many humanists. He considered himself a religious man yet destroyed the prevailing religion of his country at that time to foster his own ambition and lust. In dissolving the monastries he went too far. There is a school of thought that says things did need to change. There was widespread abuse of church power, many monastries took money from the poor to enrich themselves yet did nothing to help the communities they were meant to. Some monks and abbots had fathered children, were drunks, and feathered their own wealth to the cost of their community. Indeed, few people were sorry to see them go. Some monks and abbots were given pensions of £100 a year, but others were hung. The only real protest came in the north, via the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry then took things too far in his treatment of these men and women and in later years destroying Saint’s shrines.
So, there we have it, the paradox that was Henry. Was Henry all bad? No, but I believe the bad outweighed the good, he became seduced by power until nothing mattered but Henry. In conclusion therefore I would have to put Henry on the bad side if it’s a straight choice of good or bad, but he was without doubt a bad man who did many good things, something which often gets forgotten in discussing Henry.

August 5, 2012
2:15 pm
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Boleyn
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I suppose one could liken Henry to Gaius, better known as Caligula. Caligula started his rule as the darling of the Roman Empire. But his life before becomming emperor was as far from perfect. His father died at a young age and his mother returned to Rome and picked a fight with Tiberirus, as a result she and 4 of her children all died in mysterous circumstances. Caligula and his sister Dusilla were all that was left.
Caligula as we know became the most famous emperor for sadistic and brutal behaviour during his short reign ending with his own murder. The saying “I feel like death warmed up” is loosely based from Caligula’s time.. When Caligula would tell his torturers to make the person feel like they were dying, before actually killing them outright as slowly and gruesomely as possible.
Henry’s reign was much the same, he was the Golden haired God who was adored by the people, he was going to make them forget all the death and bloodshed with the War of the Roses. A King who ruled wisely and justly and was loved and adored by all those who knew him. And for the first years of his reign he was just that, a wise and just ruler, but then like Caligula he turned, a sort of madness infected him and even before his fall I think this madness was there, and if it hadn’t been for the fall, I don’t think it would have affected him quite as badly as it did until perhaps the latter years of his reign. In Caligula’s case it was an illness that triggered his insanity and meglomania. Henry’s fall started his, The golden haired God died that day of his fall and in place this horrible stinking, vindictive, sadistic brute was born.
It’s sad really when you think about it that a rule that had started out with such promise and hope for the future, ended in such bitter disappointment and hatred. People were probably glad to see the back of Henry. And yet the charm and carisma he once had lived on through Elizabeth and she was deeply mourned by the people when she died. Her death really was the end of an era, and the end of all the hope, that the Tudor reign once promised.

I’m not suggesting by the way that Henry was as bad as Caligula. I’m drawing a basis of comparrison, that Henry’s reign like Caligula’s started out well but ended so tragically. That Henry’s fall like Caligula’s illness affected the minds of the once brilliant and much loved men they once were.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 5, 2012
2:21 pm
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Janet
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I agree that Henry did do some good things, but I think most of them were self serving. He broke with Rome to get a divorce. He also broke with Rome because once it was pointed out to him that the Pope had jurisdiction over him, the great King Henry of England, he couldn’t stand that. I think he really believed that no one, other than God, should be above him. Destroying the monasteries brought him a lot of money, so again, it was what was in it for him rather than any altruistic motives. Did he want to use the money to help the poor? No. Did he condone the murder of innocent people? Yes. He had Anne murdered so he could get things going with Jane. Again, another act of complete selfishness. When KH came onto him, it was a huge stroking of his overinflated ego. When he found out about the other men in her life, it was a gigantic blow, so off with her head. I think the man had a serious ego problem and was a sociopath as well. Sorry Maggyann, but I just don’t like him.

August 5, 2012
8:58 pm
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Louise
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What Neil said!

August 6, 2012
5:15 pm
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Boleyn
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I often wonder how the English halberds felt, during the battle Flodden in 1513, seeing a big ginger hedge coming towards them with their cabers and swords raised in a paddy…..

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 6, 2012
6:34 pm
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Sharon
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I don’t care what a man does for a living, or what he supposedly accomplishes. If he treated the people who were closest to him like crap, then as far as I am concerned, he did not live a good life and doesn’t deserve any praise whatsoever. I get personal like that.
Neil has said it perfectly.

August 6, 2012
7:03 pm
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Sharon
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Maggy,
Not to belabor the point, but I respectfully disagree with you about KOA. She rallied the troops and actually handled all parts of the plans against Scotland. She was definitely in charge of England at that time and she deserves credit for the win. She gave a rousing speech to her men. She didn’t stay safe in London. She was riding north when word came that James was defeated at Flodden. Many world leaders were commenting on her strength. Scotland was hers to win or lose, and she won.

August 6, 2012
7:59 pm
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Louise
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There is a massive irony to all this. Neil states that Henry was kept in check by Wolsey, after which he was pampered by new advisors who had no reason to argue with him due to fear, self-interest or both. But who were those advisors who had influence over him? It was the Boleyns and the Boleyn faction due to Henry’s obsession with Anne.
The Boleyns were reformists and had influence over Henry. They and their advisors taught Henry that he had dominance in his own realm over the Pope. I don’t think they foresaw how that would corrupt him and I don’t think they envisioned the dissolution of the Monastaries. But be that as it may, they helped create the monster who ended up destroying them.

August 6, 2012
11:57 pm
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Boleyn
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I think the saying
Power corrupts, Absolute Power corrupts absolutely, fits Henry to a T.. Thomas More once said “If the lion knew his own strength, then no man could hold him” and that was true.. We all know the saying “2 wrongs don’t make a right” but in Henry’s case it was “2 wrongs DID make a right.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 7, 2012
6:41 pm
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Boleyn
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Olga said

I’m not having a go Maggy, but saying Catherine didn’t defeat the Scots is like saying every other female Monarch who didn’t actually take arms in the battle didn’t have a victory. It’s not really fair.
Henry, I think, can be given as much courtesy as he doled out.
His father left him a rich man, he bankrupted the kingdom and stole money from monasteries. He left the poor without means of alms or healing when he destroyed monasteries, he lefts Nuns and Monks and beggars. He murdered people and then when he lamented his actions he tried to place the blame on others. He treated his wives and daughters abominably. The one wife he called his “true wife” he left alone to die in horrible pain while he went off hunting because, as always, Henry couldn’t face death. He was so deluded in the end he mentioned “children he might have by other wives” in his will while he was married to Katherine Parr.
He was mad. I don’t know if Henry did more for arts and universities than any other Monarch, I don’t profess to have that knowledge. But Henry started the Church of England to defy the Pope and to get a divorce, not because he was leaning towards the new religion. he essentially kept everything Catholic, it wasn’t until Edward’s reign that England began to truly turn Protestant, so I’m not giving Henry any credit for that. I’ll give it to the people who died for their faith, for those who were smuggling in banned books at their own peril. Not to Henry. Henry just wanted to be Head of the Church because he thought he was as important as God.

I thought the wording in Henry’s will said something like a child begotten by his wife would come after his other children if they died without issue, and that the Grey clan would then come after K.P and Henry’s child if he/she had died the same without issue.
That to me says that it was enterely possible that he and K.P had, had a fumble or at least tried to?
If Edward had lived longer Yes I agree the country may have been completely Protestant.
But due to Henry’s turnabout way England was still a mixed bag of religion. After all A.O.C was a protestant, then came K.H who was from one of the oldest Catholic families in England and again the court was filled with Catholic Bishops such as Gardiner. When K.H was executed, Henry then once again Volte Visage and K.P was on the scene and she was well known for her feelings towards religion and the Church.
Mary’s reign was much the same, she did manage to her stamp on England where religion was concerned and again like Edward if she had lived just that little bit longer she would have been able to drive the mear thought of Tindale and the Protestant religion completely out of England..
It was Elizabeth that really sorted out the religious upevil. Yes there were still Catholics in her England and save for the odd hissy fit from them and Mary Queen of Scots temper tantrum she actually managed to keep the balance between her Catholic and Protestant subjects..
In short she left them alone if they did likewise..

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

August 7, 2012
8:24 pm
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Neil Kemp
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Louise said

There is a massive irony to all this. Neil states that Henry was kept in check by Wolsey, after which he was pampered by new advisors who had no reason to argue with him due to fear, self-interest or both. But who were those advisors who had influence over him? It was the Boleyns and the Boleyn faction due to Henry’s obsession with Anne.
The Boleyns were reformists and had influence over Henry. They and their advisors taught Henry that he had dominance in his own realm over the Pope. I don’t think they foresaw how that would corrupt him and I don’t think they envisioned the dissolution of the Monastaries. But be that as it may, they helped create the monster who ended up destroying them.

Yes, Louise, an irony indeed. When you ride the Tiger you have to be very careful not to fall off! Dr. Frankenstein had the same problem.Wink

August 8, 2012
9:12 am
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Olga
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Claire’s got an article on this Boleyn http://www.theanneboleynfiles……iiis-will/

Henry’s instructions for the succession – The order of the succession after Edward was 1) “the heirs of his [Edward’s] body”, 2) Henry’s children by “Queen Catharine, or any future wife”, 3) “In default, to his daughter Mary and the heirs of her body, upon condition that she shall not marry without the written and sealed consent of a majority of the surviving members of the Privy Council appointed by him to his son Prince Edward”, 4) “In default, to his daughter Elizabeth upon like condition”, 5) To the heirs of Lady Frances (daughter of Mary Tudor and Charles Brandon), 6) To the heirs of Lady Eleanor, sister of Lady Frances, 7) And in default, to his right heirs.

I don’t think Anne of Cleves was actually Protestant. her brother was Lutheran, her Mother a Catholic, I’m fairly sure she stuck to the Catholic religion, or Henry’s version of it, even though there was hopes she might influence Henry in the new religion. I’m not 100% sure where she went with it during Edward’s reign though off the top of my head.

August 8, 2012
12:58 pm
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Boleyn
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AOC actually converted to Catholism during Edward’s reign which caused a few problems. She died as we know in 1557 and was is buried in Westminster Abbey, she was very popular with the people and mourned by Mary, with whom she had become very close to.

Thank you for the will bit.. I like the second clause, again it says to me that Henry had had sexual congress or at least tried to have sexual congress with her. There was talk at one stage of putting K.P aside and Henry either marrying his Daughter in Law Mary Howard or the recently widowed Katherine Brandon., so that’s where the “any future wife” came in. Did Henry still believe he was capable of father off spring? Given Henry’s over inflated ego he obvisously believed it. In Henry’s case it was wishful thinking driving the controls of his sexual libido.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

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