From the beheading of two of his wives to the bloody wars against Scotland and France, the historical past has rightly portrayed Henry VIII as one ogre.
But a brand new examination shows that in his later years the king was weak and “disturbed” and most likely because of all his misdeeds and God’s worries.
Researchers have discovered that a duplicate of a prayer e-book once used by the Tudor king in the final years of his life has distinct markings and significant devotional passages.
This shows that his mind was preoccupied with the ideas of “fleshly suffering, sinfulness, and divine wisdom,” in addition to God’s forgiveness, even though his prosperity was rapidly deteriorating.
The markings had been made by Henry in an e-book of prayers in Wormsley Library, near High Wycombe, known as ‘Psalms or Prayers’.
In this copy of The Psalms or Prayers in the Wormsley Library, Henry VIII drew a manicle – a sign in the shape of a palm that points with the index finger – on a passage that reads: “Turn away your wrath from me, that I may know that you are more merciful to me than I deserve sins”
Henry VIII (1491-1547) was ‘troubled’ and plagued by the fear of God in his later years, new research suggests. Pictured is a portrait of Henry VIII in the workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger in 1497/1498.
The book was published anonymously by his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, in 1544, three years before his death in 1547.
The new research was conducted by Micheline White, an associate professor of English literature at Carleton University in Canada, who believes the labels will come as a surprise to many.
“This is not what we expected,” Professor White said Times.
“We tend to think that Henry was very confident and used his power with impunity, but in these particular annotations we see traces of a Henry who is quite timid.”
Professor White studied two copies of the psalms or prayers, one of which was already in Henry’s possession in the collection of Elton Hall in Cambridgeshire.
The different one, which is in Wormsley Library, is currently unknown to students, however Professor White is satisfied that it once belonged to Henry.
It contains so-called “manicules” – handwritten marks in the shape of a palm with the index finger extended in a pointing gesture.
The markings on the e-book are similar to those of various books recognized as belonging to the king, not only his copy of Elton Hall’s Psalms or Prayers, but also the 1530 assortment of scriptures Collectanea satis copiosa and Marulic’s Theological Compendium. “Evangelistarium” from 1487.
The markings on the copy of the e-book of prayers in Wormsley Library are similar to those found on various books recognized as belonging to the king, as well as on his copy of Marulić’s Evangelistarium (1487). Pictured is Henry’s manicure ‘Evangelistarium’
In the photo, the title page of Katrina Parra’s ‘Psalms or Prayers’ (1544). This is a copy from Wormsley Library
“I show that the Wormsley Library copy also has markings and I believe there are good reasons to believe that they were made by Henry,” says Professor White in her examination published in the journal. Renaissance quarter.
Wormsley’s copy of ‘Psalms or Prayers’ has eight manicula and an additional three ellipses, a pattern of three dots used in an identical technique to mark notable sections.
One manicula was drawn after a passage that read: “Remove from me your torments, for your chastisement has made me weak and weary.”
It continues: “For when you punish a man for his sins, you make him slowly decay and wither away.”
Another maniquin was engraved by the king with the words: “Turn away your wrath from me, that I may know that you are more merciful to me than my sins deserve.”
Meanwhile, the inkwell created by the king punctuates a verse in which the speaker worries that his sins will “cause God to forsake him.”
It says, “Lord God, do not forsake me, though I have done nothing good in your sight.”
According to Professor White, these markings point to certain stages that the king must have remembered from 1544, which “obviously resonated with Henry’s physical condition”.
The king was overweight for many years, and in his last years he suffered from constant complications, leg ulcers, gout and physical ailments.
Ink cloverleaf 1 in ‘Psalms or Prayers’ in a copy from Wormsley Library. This passage says, “If anyone seems perfect among men, but if your wisdom fails him, he will be counted worthless.”
In May 1544, the imperial envoy Eustace Chapuy informed the Holy Roman Emperor that Henry, in addition to his “age and weight”, had “the worst legs in the world”, but “nobody dares tell him”, says Professor White. .
Henry may have been coy about his medical problems when he introduced himself to his subjects and army allies, yet he provided some unpleasant information within the confines of Parr’s e-book.
He was the divinely appointed monarch of England, but his aging, sinful body was weak and debilitated, and although he believed his actions were righteous, he also believed that God sent the disease as a punishment and might leave him.
“In highlighting these verses in Parr’s book, Henry confronted both the ugly truth and himself as an exemplary monarch in response to the crisis, asking God to ‘turn away’ his wrath and bestow mercy.”
Deluxe copies of Parr’s Psalms or Prayers were released as giveaways in a marketing campaign for Henry VIII’s fight against France.
It is claimed that after reading Parr’s e-book around the world and at home, Henry felt it was “absolute” to call God “wisdom and guidance”.
After Henry’s death in January 1547, Parr married a former lover, Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, who was Admiral of England from 1547 to 1549.
Sadly, Parr died in September 1548 shortly after giving birth to his daughter Mary Seymour, while Seymour was convicted of treason and guillotined the following year.
Seymour is said to have had an affair with the teenage Princess Elizabeth, while the long-serving monarch was in his and Catherine’s care and his new wife was pregnant.
Henry VIII: The dominant king who broke Rome and changed the course of England’s cultural and historical past
King Henry VIII, circa 1537, aged about 45
Henry VIII was the dominant king who broke Rome and corrected the course of England’s cultural and historical past.
His predecessors had tried to overrun France, and even Henry himself made two costly attempts, albeit unsuccessful ones.
He was identified with self-medication, even making personal medicine.
A document on a prescription for ulcer therapy in the British Museum reads: “A snack designed by the King’s Majesty, made at Westminster and developed at Grenwich, to remove inflammations and stop paying and cure ulcers known as gray plaster”.
King was also a musician and composer who proudly owned 78 flutes, 78 recorders, 5 bagpipes and had his songs covered by Jethro Tull ever since.
He died deeply in debt, living such a lavish lifestyle that he spent much more than his taxes would have exempted him from.
He owned the largest assortment of tapestries ever documented and 6,500 pistols.
Although most portraits depict him as a frail man, in later life he was very tall and one observer called him “an absolute monster”.