Ok, fiends. Lately, I’ve been reading Philippa Gregory’s series on the wives of Henry VIII, king of England from 1509-1547. I’ve never been much of a fan of historical fiction, but I’m enjoying these books a lot.
How much do you know about Henry Tudor, besides the fact that he had six wives? Here are some Fun Facts for your perusal:
Item: He wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon (his first wife) so he could marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope said nothin’ doin’, so Henry simply broke ties with Rome and appointed himself head of the Church in England so he could have his way. Nice.
Item: Henry was a germophobe, and with good cause. “The sweat,” a flu that killed tens of thousands, scared the willies out of him, so he constantly went “on progress” from one castle to another during the hot summer months, trying to outrun the sickness. He succeeded.
Item: He is depicted as a bloated, nasty curmudgeon, gnawing on a big ol’ turkey leg, ordering people around and having folks beheaded. Actually, he was at his worst only in his later years, due mostly to a nagging leg wound that never healed, and, um…bowel issues. He also had a 52-inch waist, which exacerbated all the other problems. However, as a young man, he was very athletic, fit, energetic, fun, and handsome. And boy, was he busy in the lady department…
And now, for your pleasure:
The Six Wives of Henry VIII — In Sentence Fragments
Meant to be Read Quite Fast
Catherine of Aragon – Daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Married to Henry’s older brother, Arthur. Arthur croaks. Henry marries Catherine. Married 20-some years. One daughter (Mary) but no sons. Lots of miscarriages. Henry wants out. Wants Anne Boleyn. Petitions Pope for divorce. No go. Tells Rome to take a dive. Divorces Catherine but keeps Mary. Catherine dies alone and penniless, while Henry parties with Anne. Cold.
Anne Boleyn – Strong willed. Argues lots with Henry but gets her way. Too big for her britches. Gives birth to daughter (Elizabeth I), but Henry wants sons. Later miscarries a son. Big mistake. Henry wants out. Wants Jane Seymour. Must get rid of nasty Anne. Trumps up charges (adultery, treason, incest). Off with her head.
Jane Seymour – Cute. Young. Doesn’t argue. Henry likes that. Pregnant at the time of Anne’s execution. Marries Henry directly after. Gives him long-awaited son (Edward VI). Henry ecstatic. Jane dies 12 days later. Henry inconsolable. Mourns for 2 years.
Anne of Cleves – German princess. Not too bright. Ugly, too, apparently. Henry sees her for the first time after marriage deal is made. Freaks. Marriage never consummated. Henry worries she won’t give him a divorce. He’s wrong. And happy. Divorces Anne but bankrolls her for life, treating her like a beloved sister. Maybe she not so dumm after all…
Kathryn Howard – 18 years old. Henry: 50. [Eww.] Nearly illiterate, but pretty. And “experienced.” Henry marries her anyway. Kathryn not satisfied with aging 300-pound ogre with gimpy leg. Has affairs. Gets caught. Convicted of adultery at 21 years old. Chop. Head in basket.
Katherine Parr – Widow. Engaged to Thomas Seymour (Henry’s ex bro-in-law). Henry proposes instead. She accepts. Nurses the old man in his ill health. Henry dies. Katherine is free. Marries Seymour. Dies after delivering a baby girl. Bummer.
And there you have it. Have a delicious Wednesday. That reminds me…I gotta go to the bakery this morning.