An Introduction to Henry VIII

David Starkey provides an introduction to the remarkable ruler and places his achievements in a European context.

Eighteen year-old Henry after his coronation in 1509
Eighteen year-old Henry after his coronation in 1509

Henry VIII was born on June 28th, 1491, in the palace of Placentia at Greenwich. It remained his most frequently visited palace and, covering sixteen acres, was his second largest after the vast palace of Whitehall, which sprawled over twenty-three. Yet scarcely a trace of it remains. In this Greenwich serves as a kind of exemplar for the fate of Henry VIII's constructive achievements.

He was one of the greatest builders in English history. Yet this monarch who began his reign with a dozen palaces and finished it with fifty-five is remembered by fragments of only two: Hampton Court (which the public primarily associates not with the king but with his minister, Cardinal Wolsey) and St James's (which is not open to the public at all).

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