Henry VIII Changes His Will – 30 December 1546

Henry VIIIOn this day in history, 30th December 1546, a rather unwell Henry VIII signed his last will and testament, authorising some changes made to the earlier 1544 document on the 26th December.

According to historian Eric Ives, the changes were made to ensure successful transfer of royal authority to his son Edward “and to provide for the preservation of that authority during the minority”. The changes made by William Paget on Henry’s behalf included:-

  • Changes to proposed titles and grants – For example, Ives writes of how “The strangest alteration of all affected Edward Seymour himself. The original proposal was to make him duke of Hertford and his son earl of Wiltshire. Paget amended this to: ‘duke of Somerset or Exeter or Hertford and his soonne erle of Wiltshire if he be duke of Hertford.'” There were also cancelled earldoms which affected John, Lord Russell, and William Paulet, and a cancelled barony for Sir Thomas Arundel.
  • Confirmation of those men who would form a council to advise his son Edward during his minority.
  • The addition of the Suffolk line, the offspring of Henry VIII’s sister, Mary Tudor, as heirs after Henry’s own children.

You can read more about the provisions of Henry VIII’s will in my article “Henry VIII’s Will” and you can read the will itself at British History Online – click here and scroll down to note 634 (LP xxi. Part 2. 634)

Those of you who are interested in Henry VIII’s will, Paget’s amendments and what happened when Edward VI came to the throne in January 1547 may want to read the articles by Eric Ives, Helen Miller and Ralph Houlbrooke:-

  • Henry VIII’s Will: The Protectorate Provisions of 1546-47, Eric Ives, The Historical Journal, 37, 4 (1994) available to download at Cambridge Journals
  • Henry VIII’s Unwritten Will, Helen Miller, in “Wealth and Power in Tudor England”, ed. E.W. Ives et al (London 1978)
  • Henry VIII’s Wills: A Comment”, R. Houlbrooke, The Historical Journal, 37/4 (1994), available to download at Cambridge Journals

Update 2015: I’d also highly recommend Suzannah Lipscomb’s excellent book on Henry VIII’s will, The King is Dead.

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