Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracy, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant
A blazing narrative history that boldly captures the end of England's most despotic ruler and his court — a time of murderous conspiracies, terrifying betrayals, and sordid intrigue
Henry VIII's crimes against his wives are well documented and have become historical lore. But much less attention has been paid to his monarchy, especially the closing years of his reign.
Rich with information including details from new archival material and written with the nail-biting suspense of a modern thriller, The Last Days of Henry VIII offers a superb fresh look at this fascinating figure and new insight into an intriguing chapter in history.
Robert Hutchinson paints a brilliant portrait of this egotistical tyrant who governed with a ruthlessness that rivals that of modern dictators; a monarch who had "no respect or fear of anyone in this world," according to the Spanish ambassador to his court. Henry VIII pioneered the modern "show trial": cynical propaganda exercises in which the victims were condemned before the proceedings even opened, proving the most powerful men in the land could be brought down overnight.
After thirty-five years in power, Henry was a bloated, hideously obese, black-humored old recluse. And despite his having had six wives, the Tudor dynasty rested on the slight shoulders of his only male heir, the nine-year-old Prince Edward — a situation that spurred rival factions into a deadly conflict to control the throne.
The Last Days of Henry VIII is a gripping and compelling history as fascinating and remarkable as its subject.
Robert Hutchinson spent several years in original archival research. He advances a genuinely new theory of Henry's medical history and the cause of his death; he has unearthed some fabulous eyewitness material and papers from death warrants, confessions and even love letters between Katherine Parr and the Lord High Admiral.
of a little jealousy? All her plans to return to the limelight of society had failed. The Duke of Cleves’ ambassador, whom Henry’s Council suspected was merely Anne’s agent, had been living meanly in a room above a tavern with one manservant and had been called to court twice or three times in the early part of 1543, probably on business connected with the discarded queen. All came to naught, however, and although Chapuys tried hard to obtain an exit passport for him, he remained stranded in
honour, right and pre-eminence due to him by the law of God, but spoiled this realm yearly of innumerable treasure’. It was typical Henrician propaganda: smug, self-justifying and arrogant. A staunch Lutheran in Germany could happily have written it. The Act marked an important continuum of the king’s campaign against Rome, should any of his subjects be reckless enough to retain any doubts as to the wisdom of his religious policy. Cromwell staged a public and very graphic demonstration of the
them was truly facing a martyr’s death.39 Barnes generously reassured his fellow victim: ‘Cheer up, brother, today we shall be in glory.’40 At the place of execution, standing at the stake above a huge pile of wood faggots, Barnes raised his voice to ask Sir William Laxton and Martin Bowes, the two sheriffs of London, the reason why he was about to die. The wretched sheriffs, shaking their heads, did not know.41 Barnes then repeated the question to the watching crowd and asked them whether ‘they
enthusiasm and braggart recklessness, Henry had suffered accidents in the lists before. In 1524, whilst tilting with lances with his old friend the Duke of Suffolk, the king had been injured above the right brow after he unwisely rode out with his helmet visor raised. Although he was lucky not to lose an eye and, daredevil-like, ran six more courses at the lists that day, he suffered frequent migraine headaches afterwards.53 This latest jousting incident was far more serious even than it seemed
regarding his attempts to win approval from his brother: My lord: As I gather from your letter, delivered to my brother Herbert, you are in some fear how to frame my lord your brother [the Lord Protector] to speak in your favour. The denial of your request shall make his folly more manifest to the world, which will grieve me more than the want of his speaking. I would not wish you to importune for his goodwill, if it come not frankly at the first … I would desire you might obtain the king’s