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What were Henry's good points?
May 26, 2010
5:02 am
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Jenny
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Poss. the only one I can see is that he died before he could lop-off Katherine Parr's Head.  However, one could also say that he “fathered” Elizabeth

May 26, 2010
5:04 am
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ipaud
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Hi WMjay,

Regardless of what he did to Anne and many others and what I might think of him, he is really an Enigma and history is written about him from different prospectives. However, Anne and others at times Loved him dearly. I have posted before that to understand Anne, we should try to understand him (not forgive him necessarily!) For to try to do understand him, we may unlock some of the thousands of unanswered questions about Anne. So with the risk of being sent back to the Tower to live out the rest of my days all alone in a “Henry VIII forum here goes…

Henry has been called the “Architect of Modern England” much of what he did in reforms, form the basis for much of Britain today. The changes 500 years ago rocked the world.

In his younger days, he was quite the athlete, all descriptions written of him in his early years were glowing tributes. He excelled in Hunting, tennis, archery, shooting, jousting and anything he put his mind to. Henry was also tall for his times, when all around him were an average 5 feet tall, he was over 6 feet.

If we were to look at Henry as the equivalent a modern CEO of a large multinational company (times were different I know…) he elevated “nobody's” over noble's to the Highest positions. They were more likely to be faithful to the King and without interference from factions in court. Unfortunately the severance package was too very often ones head on Tower hill!

I have seen written in various books and interviews with historians, that to be out side Henry's court or good graces was like being kept away from sunshine and for much of his life that he was a much loved KIng by all. He had something?

And…

Even with a Dodgy leg, he was quite popular with the ladies!

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

May 26, 2010
6:28 am
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Melissa
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Paudie, the whole thing about him being a good athlete bothers me even more.  I see him as an alpha male, (American) football player type.  I recently had a conversation with a porn star (don't ask!) and she said that the worst lovers she ever had, in the sense that they didn't care about the needs of their partner, were athletes.  That's how I see Henry.  

I would loathe to be in the presence of Henry VIII-imagine having to let him win every game you play and having to smell that festering leg wound!  I was actually just having a conversation about how women will sleep with anyone who is famous, triggered by a tv interview with William Hung.  For those of you who don't know who he is, he auditioned for American Idol a few years ago and was so terrible that he became famous because of it.  I think he may also have Downs Syndrome or something.  In the interview he talked about how women throw themselves at him and he's still getting marriage proposals!  My point is that that's how I see Henry VIII-a man that no woman would want to touch were he not king, but since he did have all that female attention he thought he was something special.  

As a person, Henry was an abomination.  But as a king, he was pretty good.  He did all the things a Renaissance king was supposed to-went to war, thought deeply about religion, protected his kingdom, was well read, was a patron of the arts, built up the navy, etc.  The whole thing about how being out of favor with him was like being deprived of sunshine was certainly true in a time when the king was the government, was England.  Kings went out of their way to cultivate that sense.  Louis XIV-The Sun King-built his palace so that everything having to do with himself was at the center and all things had to revolve around him.  I really liked in this week's episode of The Tudors (this is NOT a spoiler, don't worry) the French girl tells Charles Brandon that all of Europe refer to Henry as “the English Nero,” and Charles seems shocked.  In England, where being in the king's good graces was a matter of life and death, courtiers had to believe he was like the sunshine, but those looking in from the outside could see the truth.

Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne.

May 26, 2010
8:55 am
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marybeth
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Paudie-

you wrote he was ” quite popular with the ladies”.
I disagree- they had to be with him..they couldn't turn down the king.

IMO- the only quality worth mentioning is Elizabeth.

Let not my enemies sit as my jury- Anne Boleyn

May 26, 2010
11:27 am
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Sharon
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Paudie, You are right.  Henry was all that you say he was.  As far as Kings go, he did his share for England.  For the most part, however the changes he brought about were for his own selfish interests.

Most of us seem to have a problem with the “man” he was and how he used his power of kingship to destroy lives.  Yes, Anne loved him.  Many people loved him.  He seems to have been able to switch his love on and off like a faucet.  I'm sure when Henry loved a person, no matter for how long his love lasted, they felt as though the sun was shining on them.  The fact that his love never lasted, and his need to get rid of those he claimed to once love by killing them, is what is hard to get past.  Something was missing in his character.

He elevated Cromwell to a high government position with the belief he could trust him.  Cromwell pretty much served Henry without getting too involved with many of the factions of the court. And the sun was shining. Cromwell served the King. In the end, Henry listened to all the other factions when they spoke against Cromwell.  Where was Henry's loyalty for the man who had always looked out for his interests?  Henry felt no loyalties for anyone but himself. 

That's just one example of Henry's love.  There are many more, and that leads to the conclusion that he was just an awful human being. 

And not a horrible King.

May 26, 2010
11:29 am
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Bella44
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Oooh, there's a lot of Henry hate here isn't there?!  Laugh

I think he's incredibly fascinating and it's hard sometimes but I do try to see him as something other than a cartoonish monster!  But one of his “good points” that I think never gets enough attention is that he was responsible for the translation of the bible into English. Revolutionary at the time, its thanks to Henry we have such easy access to religion today – when, where or however we may choose it.

Another “quality” I think is, that irregardless of his motives, he was quite forward thinking – he felt that England was just as important as France and Spain and had as vital a role in politics as they did.  It was under his reign that England started to become a power to be taken seriously.  Gawd knows he spent enough money try to prove it!!!!!!!  

May 26, 2010
12:57 pm
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Belle
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I'm agreeing with MaryBeth on this one sorry Paudie, they had no choice in the matter, it was the king you don't turn down the king, even the mistresses wouldn't do that.  I think the husbands would maybe even sometimes persuade the wife to go with him, since it would bring good fortune on the family…(don't know if that's true or not, but it seems plausible.)

May 27, 2010
11:36 am
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Sharon
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I don't hate Henry.  He was what he was.  I even understand Anne loving him.  What I don't understand is why he treated those he claimed to love so abominably.  That's all.  I just don't get it, and can't get past it.  If someone has the answer, please let me in on it.

May 27, 2010
3:54 pm
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ipaud
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Hi Ladies,

Times were certainly different then and I don't think ladies had a lot of choice in relationships with a King or any other man, this does not excuse any of the men of that time. After all, any relationship at this time in history or otherwise is more that what one can get out of it. So Henry was not relationship material then we can assume by any stretch of the imagination, regardless of the many that he had. It is hard though to see Henry properly through 21st century eyes, if I had been there, I think that I would have voted with my feet as Tomas Moore did.

On Henry and if we can understand him better, his early years can be of Interest. He was the apple of his grandmothers eye, Margaret Beaufort who was responsible for elevating him to the throne, he was educated by scholars like Skelton and Erasmus and took Greek, latin and of course French. All again had tributes for him, Erasmus is quoted as saying  that Henry was “a lively mentality which reached for the stars, and he was able beyond measure to bring to perfection whichever task he undertook.” also, Thomas More described Henry VIII as follows “He is in every respect a most accomplished prince” this before henry became King. (An interesting point is that Charles Brandon shared Henry's education as he was around Henry VII's court, his father was close to Henry VII.) Henry is said to have been very taken with Erasmus and his “Humanist” teachings this shared with Thomas Moore. Erasmus had some reformist ideas well before it became popular through Luther and Henry VIII himself. When push came to shove on reforms, I think that the influence of Erasmus would have opened doors for reformists with Henry.

And yes Martbeth, Elisabeth is probably Henry's greatest achievement and his second greatest achievement, not having a direct personal influence on her formable years. 

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

May 27, 2010
4:19 pm
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marybeth
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umm, yeah like I said

they had to be with him..they couldn't turn down the king…that was the extent of his being “popular with the girls”

Let not my enemies sit as my jury- Anne Boleyn

May 27, 2010
4:45 pm
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HannahL
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I'm like Sharon when it comes to Henry VIII…as much as I love Anne, I actually don't hate Henry.  Reading and thinking about some of the things he did can make me very sad and angry at times, but I've always found him a very fascinating person all around. 

May 28, 2010
6:27 am
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Melissa
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I was about to write something like “if Henry was so close to Margaret Beaufort, why did he have her man Cardinal Fisher executed?” But then I realized I could be asking “if Henry were so close to Thomas More/Thomas Cromwell/Anne Boleyn/Katherine Howard, why did he have them executed?” Sigh.  I'll never understand Henry.  

On a side note, speaking of Fisher, I listen to a podcast on the Catholic saints called the SaintCast and the last saint that they covered back in April was St. John Fisher.  I listened with bated breath because I thought the host was going to say bad things about Anne Boleyn but he never did.

Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne.

May 28, 2010
10:08 am
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ipaud
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Saintcast, I love it!
I passed a sign in the shopping area of Cologne Germany one time, an ad a 10 Minute mass!

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

May 28, 2010
10:28 am
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Sharon
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Paudie, whatever happened to that Most Accomplished Prince?  What on earth made him turn into the tyrant he ended up becomming?  How could such a learned young man become the irascible old man.  How could a Humanist kill without a backward glance?

Erasmus was a lucky man.  He escaped the adult Henry's wrath by studying and teaching in Europe.  Had he stayed in England all of his life he might have ended his days as More did.

Maybe we have to go back to his relationship with his Father.  After Arthur died, Henry VII kept Henry….can I say locked away?  He wouldn't let him joust or join in other athletic ventures.  Henry became the best of athletes behind Dad's back. He wouldn't let him be in on any administrative decisions.  When Henry VIII became King, the administrtion of the government was entrusted to people like Wolsey so he could play all the time.  Dad didn't want Henry to marry Katherine (which in hindsight would have saved a lot of trouble had he not married her)  As Soon as Dad died, Henry married Katherine. Henry VII was miserly…cheap actually.  Henry spent it all once he was King.

A whole lot of resentment for dear old Dad, I suspect.  This may have formed Henry the King.  No one was ever going to tell Henry he couldn't do what he wanted to do.  He would outsmart them or outlive them.  Either way he would be the winner.

That's how I see Henry.  Selfish and self absorbed.

May 29, 2010
9:59 am
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ipaud
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It is the enigma of Henry Sharon, there are more Henry's than we can count, or as written by history.

I think people of bad character don't turn into tyrants, they just keep it well hidden.

Thomas Moore studied under Erasmus and did not turn into a tyrant (excepting an odd witch burning or two here and there…)

As you have said, Erasmus I think would not have recognized the prince who suddenly against the odds became the King who is remembered for all the wrong reasons or what he tried to instill in him. Was Henry to be Wolsey's replacement in His grandmothers plan?

There was a line in the “Tudors” show, spoken between Moore, and Wolsey “To never tell the Lion of his own strength” how true this was in principle if not actually spoken.

I think this progression can also be seen in Henry, he tested Popes, Kings, Cardinals and anyone else who came between him and what he wanted. This singular focus on things also, not resting until he got what he wanted. Was it more than just being impetuous? 

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

June 1, 2010
11:25 am
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Sharon
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Paudie,  Henry is certainly an enigma.  No matter how much I read about him, he continues to baffle me.

So the lion eventually learned what his own strength was and, he used it against all those he thought were beneath him, including Popes, Kings and Cardinals.  A wife didn't have a prayer against him. Nor did a Secretary or a nobleman.

I love your statement: “I think people of bad character don't turn into tyrants, they just keep it well hidden.”  Excellent summary of Henry.

June 1, 2010
2:45 pm
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Wendy
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I am sure Henry could be charming, persuasive, interesting and attractive, especially as a young king. I also think he was selfish, self absorbed, and the bearer of a huge ego. Unfortunately his overwhelming desire for a son and heir superseded any desire he felt for his wives. Why did he pursue Anne for so many years? Was it because she was the love of his life, or was it because he couldn't have her? Once the chase was over and there was no son, he simply moved on.

June 3, 2010
4:18 pm
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ipaud
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Henry was well able to create any illusion that he needed at any time. An example of this is the life size portrait that he had painted by Holbein. It was in Henry's ante chamber in Greenwich Palace ( it was destroyed by fire but a copy exists). This Picture was “Full on” with Henry looking directly at the viewer, with his Legs apart and he looked menacing. Anyone coming to see him, first got the “tone” set by waiting in front of it. The norm at the time was for a 3/4 profile and “full on” was considered rude.

Henry also had Holbein paint a picture of him being victorious in battle against the French and put it up in Greenwich for Francis 1 King of France's visit, a bit “off” when he was looking for the support of France at the time. What might help in defining part of Henry's character is, he got Holbein to do more on the ceiling and walls. I have the feeling that Henry liked conflict and possibly got more out of people by being good at it, set the scene and predict the reactions. Then get what he wanted from his prey,how very calculating a man was  Henry.

I think that Anne over her time with him, knew his ways and the real Henry. She was one of the few who could equal him in argument and I think this contributed to her demise, as Henry would not want someone with such a personal knowledge of him getting too friendly with his allies and enemies alike?

If it was not this, then it would be something else?

June 4, 2010
12:38 am
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Claire
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How about looking at Henry through Anne's eyes? If you believe that there love was real and passionate then you have to give Anne some credit for loving him, so there must have been something to love.

He started off as a handsome man, a “virtuous prince” but he obviously lost his original goals in his greed and hunger for ultimate power. He was very intelligent, he was a theologian and loved things like astronomy, and I can imagine that he was a very loving man at the start. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely and I believe that this happened to Henry. Although I do not believe that Anne created a monster, I think that she did show him what he could do, what he was capable of and there was just no stopping him – he spiralled out of control.

Debunking the myths about Anne Boleyn

December 17, 2010
1:21 pm
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LadyJaneless
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1) He sired Queen Elizabeth, but then never considered that she could take the throne, so let's just say he provided Tudor DNA.

2) He wrote “Greensleeves”, a good tune.

3) He certainly worked at being as good of a scholar as he thought he was.

4) The sayings “On the chopping block”, “I just lost my head”, and “Got the ax” were all coined during his reign.

5) He proved that real men could wear tights.

6) He managed to not destroy two of his six wives, which gives him a 1/3 “success” rate.

7) He helped make tennis popular throughout the world.

8) “Scriptures?  I don't need no stinking scriptures.”

9) Whatever else we can say about him, here we are still talking about him.  Is that a good point or just infamy?

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