King Henry VIII was one of the most important figures in England’s history. He was known for many things but there are still some interesting facts about King Henry VIII that you might not know about.
He was an eccentric man who was fashionable and loved the arts but what else is there to the King who broke England away from the Roman Catholic Church?
32 Interesting Facts about King Henry VIII
Now, let’s delve into some interesting facts about King Henry VIII and see if you can learn a few new things about one of England’s most infamous Kings. He was just as brutal as some of the Vikings that came before him, but what else can you learn?.
1. Henry wrote a number of songs, with his most well-known song being “Pastime With Good Company”. This song became pretty popular throughout the Renaissance Period in Europe. He also wrote “En vray amoure” and “Helas Madame”.
2. Henry VIII made boiling a legal form of capital punishment.
3. He improved the navy, partly by investing in large cannons to replace smaller serpentines in warships. He was also responsible for creating a permanent Royal Navy. This was done with heavy taxation and the funds taken from different monasteries.
4. Henry had a collection of weapons, which included 6,500 handguns. He also slept with a gigantic axe beside him.
5. Anne Boleyn, his second wife, is rumored to have had an extra finger on her right hand. This, however, may be a misconception for a few reasons. For example, when Boleyn’s burial site was exhumed none of the several bodies that were examined were found to have an extra finger.
6. Between 1536 and 1541, Henry VIII disbanded monasteries and other Catholic religious houses and appropriated their income. The monks who surrendered were rewarded, while those few who resisted were executed.
7. Henry’s last words were alleged to be, “Monks! Monks! Monks!”. This seems pretty strange at face value, but makes more sense when you consider the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
8. A common misconception about Henry is that he wrote the song ‘Greensleeves’ when in reality this is unlikely.
9. Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church by breaking away from the Catholic Church. This is mainly because the Pope refused to grant Henry an annulment of his marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.
Catherine of Aragon also happened to be his late older brother’s widow whom he married shortly after his coronation.
10. King Henry VIII gambled and played dice, particularly a dice game called tables, a game similar to Backgammon. He was somewhat known as the country’s number one gambler as it was his favorite thing to do when he had some time to himself.
11. Henry was gifted a bear by the King of Norway, described as a ‘white bear’. It was probably a polar bear and was allowed to swim and hunt fish in the Thames on a long leash.
12. Late in Henry’s life, he became obese as a result of not being able to exercise as much due to a bad jousting accident. This was while competing in a tournament when his horse fell onto his leg which resulted in his leg being crippled. This reopened and worsened a previous injury he had incurred earlier in his life.
13. Henry’s courtiers wore heavily padded clothing to emulate Henry in the later stage of his life when he put on weight.
14. Henry’s waist size was 54 inches in the obese stage of his life.
15. In August 1527, John Rut – an English mariner – sent the first known letter overseas from Newfoundland to King Henry VIII.
16. When he died he was at the peak of his obesity, King Henry VIII was almost 400 pounds when he passed. He also suffered from a range of different ailments from diabetes to Cushing’s syndrome and even Hypothyroidism.
17. King Henry VII also is famous for having six wives. These wives were to build alliances, to produce a son to inherit the throne, and were out of pure lust.
18. Henry VIII introduced the idea of divine rights. It is an ideal that gives some form of political authority. The idea is that a King will not be held accountable to any man since they are chosen from a divine power to rule the country.
Any move to go against the King would be to go against God’s will and therefore is punishable.
19. He was an author who had a popular book that had around 20 editions printed. It was a combative book aimed at Martin Luther and showed support for the Catholic Church of Rome.
20. His love of reading and writing was highlighted by the fact that he owned a library that had close to a thousand different books.
21. Henry VIII, along with France’s King Francis I, both hosted the infamous “Field of the Cloth of Gold”. It was an immensely extravagant event that lasted for weeks which was supposed to show that both England and France were united in their fight against the Roman Emperor.
This turned out to be an incredibly expensive event with each of the Kinds attempting to outbid each other in showing off.
22. He lived an incredibly lavish lifestyle which when combined with the various wars he waged, meant that there was a lack of funds for the entirety of his reign as King.
23. Henry VII is famous for the execution of two of his six wives. They were sent to the Tower of London where they were swiftly executed for adultery.
24. Henry was a Tudor, a family that was heir to the ‘House of Lancaster’. He was a part of one of the most powerful families with royal-ties during the medieval period.
The Tudors fought another family in the Wars of the Roses for generations over the throne.
25. He was only 17 when his father, Henry VII passed and Henry became the new King of England. With him taking the throne, it was the first time in close to 100 years that there was a peaceful inheritance of the throne.
26. It is said that wherever Henry would go, he would surround himself with different visuals of silver and gold. He was a flashy dresser who was believed to be the most stylish and well-dressed royal in the world.
27. He furthered the innovation of England with the money he received from the monasteries by improving the machinery of the governments and pushed for various innovations within the arts and science fields.
The rest of the money was stored in the Royal Treasury.
28. After the Act of Proclamations, Henry became somewhat of a Tyrant in 1539. The act gave legal authority to every single one of his commands. It was during this time he introduced a number of different discriminatory laws.
29. Upon his death, Henry possessed 50 distinctive palaces, Hampton Court being the most famous out of them all. It even had tennis courts and a bowling alley to keep himself and guests entertained.
30. Henry was never supposed to ascend to the throne and become the King. It was Arthur, his older brother and the Prince of Wales that was supposed to. Henry became the heir after Arthur unexpectedly died when he was 15.
31. Henry was somewhat a ruthless and non-forgiving King. He was hard-headed and would use executions as a means to remove anyone who disagreed with him. In the 38-year period of his reign, it is believed that over 70,000 different people were executed.
32. He had the nickname of “Old Coppernose” as during his reign, in an attempt to save funds, coins had low-cost metals added in an effort to make them more cheaply. The thin silver layer on the coins would wear off over time, specifically around his nose. This revealed the cheaper metal of copper below and gave him his copper nose.
Final Thoughts on Facts About King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII was a critical turning point in the history of England. He took over from a young age and arguably steered the country towards what it is today. He was an interesting character who was flamboyant and led quite a life.
Hopefully, you learned a few random facts that will come in handy on your next quiz night and while you are at it, you might also enjoy reading my post on the Battle of Hastings.