Hidden Henry

Five academics present portraits of unknown, intimate and surprising aspects of Henry VIII's character.


01Henry, Medicine And Health20090525
01Henry, Medicine And Health *20090525

Henry was a hypochondriac before the word was invented, with some good reason. He was, though, the first monarch to recognise the need for a qualified medical profession. He gave the first royal charter to the Barber Surgeons and ordered an astronomical clock for Hampton Court so that he could measure his wellbeing by the stars.

Historian Dr Elisabeth Hurren explores parts of the palace that reveal his preoccupation with health - his own and the public's - the herb garden, the astronomical clock and an area even the king could not enter, the birthing suite where his pregnant wives were confined.

She considers, too, the famous Holbein portrait of the king which portrays a man in the peak of health and at the height of his powers, but also reveals some of the health troubles that were to plague him.

02Henry The Scholar20090526
02Henry The Scholar *20090526

Speaking fluent Latin and the author of four books, Henry was not a boorish, uncultured tyrant. He was one of the most educated of our monarchs, a Renaissance Man. Historian Dr Steven Gunn from Merton College, Oxford, and Dr Andrea Clarke, curator of the Henry VIII: Man and Monarch exhibition at the British Library, present the unexpectedly studious side of Henry.

The young Henry was well versed in poetry, music and religious discourse. He was keen to be seen as a philosopher king, and the notes in the margins of his books reveal how closely he read, and his intellectual striving. His love letters to Anne Boleyn show a man with a vast vocabulary and a keen sense of amour courtois.

Joining the discussion is Professor James Carley, who has catalogued Henry VIII's books - and he had several thousand. It was his collection of books which is at the centre of what became the British Library.

Dr Steven Gunn and Dr Andre Clarke pore over Henry's books, maps and letters.

03Henry The Father20090527

Tudor historian Dr Susan Doran and Lucy Wooding, author of the most recent biography of Henry, consider what it would have been like to have had Henry as your father. Looking at letters, books, gifts and portraits, they discuss how he seems to have been closest to his illegitimate son.

He humiliated his daughter Mary, and Elizabeth's fear of commitment and even her bearing can be attributed to her contact with him. Henry's children lived in fear of their terrifying father and yet modelled themselves on him.

Dr Susan Doran and Lucy Wooding, Henry's most recent biographer, examine Henry as a father.

04Henry The Image-maker20090528

Dr Kent Rawlinson, the curator of buildings at Hampton Court, explores the way the buildings, grounds and artefacts express the king's concern with his image. For instance, the second most valuable objects now owned by the British Crown are the sumptuous wall hangings he designed himself, to be used when foreign dignitaries arrived. Each displays an aspect of his kingly prowess which he wished to demonstrate.

Henry's corporate image was very carefully thought through - the buildings themselves, his art collection, which was greater than Charles II's, right down to his clothes. They all contributed to the image that the young king projected.

05 LASTHenry The Musician20090529

Dr Stephen Rice, who researches and plays little-known Renaissance music, investigates Henry VIII's musical abilities. Did he really compose Greensleeves and other pieces which have been attributed to him? He was certainly a patron of music, appreciating visits from foreign musicians and expanding the royal musical household.

Dr Rice introduces music from the period, recently recorded by the Brabant Ensemble. He is joined by Elizabeth Kenny, one of the UK's leading lutenists, and together they demonstrate how the repertoire reflected Henry's personal concerns, his political outlook, his religious convictions and his practical abilities as a musician and composer.