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for the celebration
of the 500th anniversary of
King Henry VIII's reign
1509 - 2009
If you could see how all the world here is rejoicing in the possession of so great a prince, how his life is all their desire, you could not contain your tears of joy. The heavens laugh, the earth exults, all things are full of milk, of honey, of nectar. Avarice is expelled from the country. Liberality scatters wealth with bounteous hand. Our King does not desire gold or gems or precious metals, but virtue, glory and immortality.
[Lord Mountjoy about Henry's accession to the throne in 1509]
The British Library is mounting a major exhibition entitled Henry VIII: Man and Monarch. The exhibition will be accompanied by numerous special events, including:
| April 23 - September 6|
|Starkey on his latest exhibition|
|"Henry VIII: Man and Monarch" at London's British Library examines how a conventional medieval prince became a revolutionary monarch who broke with Rome and resorted to brutal means to push through his agenda.|
The 1527 letter is one of 17 Henry wrote to Boleyn, testament to his passion for her since he confessed he found writing them "tedious and painful." It is displayed alongside the king's ornately decorated portable desk on which the letter was probably written.
In the letter, in French and on loan from the Vatican, he said: "The proofs of your affection are such ... that they constrain me ever truly to honour, love and serve you." Historians interpret the words as the moment Henry committed his future to Boleyn, encouraging him to annul his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon and set himself and England on a collision course with the Pope in Rome.
"We see the hand (Henry's handwriting) really for the first time with the love letter to Anne Boleyn," said historian David Starkey who curated the exhibition which runs until September 6.
"There is this extraordinary paradox -- this is a passionate love letter and yet this is the basis of all the revolutionary changes of the reign," Starkey told Reuters.
He added that the impact of Henry's radical decision, which led to a rupture with continental Europe, is still felt today. "If you think of the perpetual debates we have about England's relations with Europe, Henry is the original Eurosceptic," he said.
"It's Henry, as a result of the break from Rome, who starts this process of making the Continent alien, dangerous."
PAPER TRAIL Through books, manuscripts, pamphlets, maps and letters -- many annotated or written by Henry -- the exhibition depicts him as a prince who began life as a practising Catholic.
Catherine, whom he married in 1509 seven years after the death of her first husband, Henry's brother Arthur, felt rejected not only when Henry sought to divorce her but also as a widow living in the English court.
One letter to her father complains how Henry VII refused to pay for anything, forcing her to sell things to buy clothes.
"I am in debt in London and this not for extravagant things ... but only for food," she wrote in 1506.
Much of the exhibition focuses on the long and elaborate struggle to annul the marriage, including statements attesting that Catherine consummated her marriage to Arthur, thereby invalidating her relationship with Henry.
nitially confident of Rome's backing for his case, Henry became increasingly frustrated by moves to block him, but by 1534 the break with Rome and his headship of the Church of England were formally recognised.
Resistance to the changes at home led to executions and the brutal suppression of his enemies, completing Henry's transformation from "a youthful idealist" into an "ageing, sickly tyrant."
The exhibition includes a list of names of English notables killed under Henry, starting in 1510 with two of his father's advisers and ending with his last victim, Henry Howard, in 1547.
An inventory of Henry's possessions after his death ran to 20,000 objects, including 70 ships and 49 pairs of spectacles.
The British Library
Tudor Historian Alison Weir will be speaking about The Lady in the Tower: The Fall on Anne Boleyn, and will then be in discussion with Tracy Borman, followed by audience participation. This event is in conjunction with The British Library's exhibition to mark the quincentenary of Henry VIII's accession.
The date for this event has passed but you can listen to a podcast of it here:
British Library exhibition podcasts
6.30 to 8pm
In addition to its regular displays, Hampton Court Palace has a special exhibition entitled Henry's Women, as well as a wide range of other special attractions.
|through to August 3|
Hampton Court Palace will also host special Henry-themed lectures, concerts, and other performances, including the Tudor Music Festival
Henry VIII's Coronation Weekend, complete with a Tudor river pageant from the Tower of London to Hampton Court Palace and two days of games and entertainment.
Tower of London
Alison Weir's forthcoming book, The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, will be launched on 9th September at a special evening event at the Tower of London. This will be a joint launch event with Tracy Borman, whose book, Elizabeth's Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen, will be published that month. Alison and Tracy will be giving a joint talk entitled:
The Whore and the Virgin: Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I,
after which they will sign books while drinks and canapes are served. They will then escort guests on a short guided tour to the sites of the Queen's Lodgings, where Anne and Elizabeth were both imprisoned, and the scaffold, where Anne was executed in 1536. Prepare for grim tales and one or two surprises!
Tickets will soon be on sale through Historic Royal Palaces. Please do not apply yet - when they are available, details will be posted on the Alison Weir'sEvents page.
|September 9th, 2009|
On 25th May, Alison will be speaking on Henry VIII: Hearts and Heads in the Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace.
There will be a power-point presentation, and after giving the talk and taking questions, Alison will sign books in the Cartoon Gallery, where wine and canapes will be served, and Cantocordia, a Tudor consort of musicians, will play some of Henry VIII's music. Tickets are available now through Historic Royal Palaces.
|May 25th, 2009|
|Hever Castle, Kent (Anne Boleyn`s childhood home and Anne of Cleves residence)|
A special event to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession to the throne. Join as the Knights of Royal England return for the first of the annual jousting tournaments. There will also be have-a-go archery, costumed dancers, minstrels and achildren's competition for the best dressed princess and knight. Enjoy a deliciousHog Roast*or try some ale from the Ale Tent* the perfect way to spend a summer's day!
|July 18 - 19|
| through to July 12|
|Museum of Richmond, Richmond-upon-Thames - From Henry VII to Henry VIII in Richmond exhibition||through to August 29|
|Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire - 1535: Henry VIII Romance and Intrigue at Sudeley: exhibition, and other exhibits related to Henry's wives, particularly his last queen, Catherine Parr (buried at Sudeley) and Thomas Seymour||through November 1|
Tower of London - Dressed to Kill exhibit of rarely displayed armor, weapons, and other items belonging to Henry VIII
|through January 17, 2010|
|Whitgift Conference Centre, Croydon - Hidden Treasures from the Mary Rose: exhibition of artefacts from Henry VIII's flagship, together with exhibitions about life of board||through August 7|
|Windsor Castle - Henry VIII: A 500th Anniversary Exhibition: drawings, paintings, miniatures, books, manuscripts, and prints from the Royal Collection and the St. George's Chapel archives||through April 18, 2010|
|Lady Bedingfield, of Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, was a Lady-in-Waiting to Catherine of Aragon, and Henry VIII's letter to her about Catherine's funeral is on display in the King's Room at the Hall. |
Two events will be taking place at Oxburgh. An open air play, The Merry Wives of Henry VIII, will be performed on July 17, followed by a puppet show for children, Henry VIII…and a dog Called Stanley, on July 29.
|July 17 & July 29|
|Blickling Hall, Kent was built on the site of Anne Boleyn's ancestral home, and the beheaded former Queen is rumoured to appear at the site on the anniversary of her death each May. A special evening of spine chilling tales and ghost hunting will take place on the anniversary of Anne’s death, on May 19, and will be hosted by local ghost writer and historian Neil Store||May 19|