Henry VIII: like father, like son?

Henry VIII spent much of his reign presenting himself as an athletic, gregarious antidote to the penny-pinching and paranoid Henry VII. Tracy Borman considers whether this was evidence of a confident young monarch following his own path or an insecure son struggling to escape his father's long shadow

A watercolour version of a mural showing Henry VIII (front left) with his father, Henry VII, his wife Jane Seymour (front right) and his mother, Elizabeth of York. The mural, which aimed to validate Henry's right to the throne, adorned Whitehall Palace before being destroyed by fire. (Photo by Bridgeman Royal Collection)

Henry VIII spent much of his reign presenting himself as an athletic, gregarious antidote to the penny-pinching and paranoid Henry VII. Tracy Borman considers whether this was evidence of a confident young monarch following his own path or an insecure son struggling to escape his father’s long shadow

When Henry VIII ascended the throne in April 1509, his subjects were quick to draw favourable comparisons between the new king’s youthful exuberance and his dour old father. One contemporary verse rejoiced that the kingdom “now cleared is from the clerk… By Harry our king the flower of nature’s work.”

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