Who Was Henry VIII?

Suzannah Lipscomb looks beyond the stereotypes that surround our most infamous monarch to ask: who was Henry VIII and when did it all go wrong? 

King Henry VIII after Hans Holbein the Younger, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
King Henry VIII after Hans Holbein the Younger, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

We all think we know Henry VIII and all there is to know about him. The Holbein portraits, the profusion of television dramas and films, the novels and histories set in his world make him ubiquitous. A whole set of clichés, truisms and fallacies accompany that famous silhouette. As a character, the king both repulses and fascinates us. His vast girth, larger than life persona, grandeur, pomp, arrogance and appetites make us strangely proud of this hyper-masculine, fabled monarch.

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