Henry VIII by William ShakespeareHenry VIII is a history play generally believed to be a collaboration between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the life of Henry VIII of England. An alternative title, All is True, is recorded in contemporary documents, the title Henry VIII not appearing until the plays publication in the First Folio of 1623. Stylistic evidence indicates that individual scenes were written by either Shakespeare or his collaborator and successor, John Fletcher. It is also somewhat characteristic of the late romances in its structure. It is noted for having more stage directions than any of Shakespeares other plays.
During a performance of Henry VIII at the Globe Theatre in 1613, a cannon shot employed for special effects ignited the theatres thatched roof (and the beams), burning the original building to the ground.
King Henry VIII : A crash course on England's most famous Monarch
The life and reign of King Henry VIII
But his reign was also marked by tumult, including his break with the Catholic Church, drastic changes to English religious and political life, profligate spending and an exceedingly troubled personal life that saw several wives cast aside. But how much of this can be chalked up to the injuries and ill-health Henry suffered throughout his life and does medicine help us solve the riddle of this troubled king? Henry was not born to be king. The second son of Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth, Henry spent his earliest years surrounded by his mother and her ladies-in-waiting, in contrast to his older brother Arthur, who as heir was raised in his own household. Henry received a top-notch education and was a talented student. He composed music and poetry, mastered a number of languages and studied theology, with an eye on possibly joining the church, a common role for second sons from prominent families.
In need of a male heir, he got his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled in order to marry the ambitious noblewoman Anne Boleyn, inadvertently starting a revolution in the process. When Anne produced only a daughter as well, Henry had her executed for adultery and treason and immediately married Jane Seymour, who produced the much-desired son, but died in childbirth. His fourth marriage, a political match with Anne of Cleves, lasted only a few days, while number five, Catherine Howard, met the same fate as Anne Boleyn.
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Young Henry was the epitome of a 'Renaissance Prince'
The Wives of Henry VIII: Audiobook: Mr Prior
He played a significant role in the English Reformation, instigating the Church of England's break from Rome in in order to marry his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The Tudor king is largely remembered as a bully who executed his opponents, oversaw the destruction of religious buildings and works of art, and killed off two of his six wives. But is this image wholly accurate? He had an athletic physique and excelled at sports, regularly showing off his prowess in the jousting arena. All this changed in when the king — then in his mid-forties — suffered a serious wound to his leg while jousting. This never properly healed, and instead turned ulcerous, which left Henry increasingly incapacitated. By the time of his death, he had to be winched onto his horse.
He loved spending money. The Tudor era was a time of great change, new ideas were emerging about science, art, design and culture, and great sailing expeditions uncovered new lands. But, in his later years, all that indulgence took its toll on his physical health. At the age of 50 he had a inch cm waist! One of the biggest changes that Henry brought about during his reign was the English Reformation. Thus ended the first there were to be many more!