Episodes

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01Henry, Medicine And Health2009052520191230 (BBC7)
20191231 (BBC7)

The first of five programmes marking the 500th anniversary next month of the coronation of Henry VIII that exoplore lesser known aspect of the man. 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 well-being by the stars. The historian Dr Elizabeth 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 after Holbein portrait of the king which protrays a man in the peak of health and at the height of his powers, but, reveals too some of the health troubles that were to plague him.

Elizabeth Hurren reveals how Henry VIII was both a medical pioneer and a hypochrondiac.

Five academics present portraits of unknown, intimate and surprising aspects of Henry VIII

02Henry The Scholar2009052620191231 (BBC7)
20200101 (BBC7)

At the British Library Steven Gunn and Andre Clarke pore over his books, maps and letters which reveal a man of keen, curious and disputatious intellect.
The second of five programmes marking the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII. Speaking fluent Latin and the author of four books, Henry wasn't a boorish, uncultured tyrant. He was one of the most educated of our monarchs, a Renaissance Man. The 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 us with the unexpectedly studious side of Henry. There is in his psalter, a portrait of him reading, and 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. We hear too from Prof James Carley, who has catalogued Henry VIII's books - and he had several thousand. And it was his collection of books which is at the centre of what became the British Library.

Dr Steven Gunn and Dr Andrea Clarke explore the intellectual life of Henry VIII.

Five academics present portraits of unknown, intimate and surprising aspects of Henry VIII

03Henry The Father2009052720200101 (BBC7)
20200102 (BBC7)

In the third of five programmes marking the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII, Tudor historian Dr Susan Doran, and Lucy Wooding, author of the most recent biography, consider what is was like to have Henry as your father. Looking at letters, books, gifts and portraits they discuss how he seems to have been closest to his illegitamate son; he humiliated his daughter Mary, and Elizabeth's fear of commitment, even her bearing are due to her contact with him. Henry's children lived in fear of their terrifying father and yet modelled themselves on him.

Susan Doran and Henry VIII's biographer, Lucy Wooding, explore Henry's role as father.

Five academics present portraits of unknown, intimate and surprising aspects of Henry VIII

04Henry, The Image-maker2009052820200102 (BBC7)
20200103 (BBC7)

In the fourth of five programmes marking the coronation of Henry VIII that introduce aspects of his character that are not well-known, Dr Kent Rawlinson, the curator of buildings at Hampton Court, explores the way the buildings, grounds and artefacts express the king's concern with image, the impression he made. 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 (greater than Charles II's) right down to his clothes. They all contributed to the image the young king projected.

Kent Rawlinson introduces Henry the architect and fahion icon, obsessed by his image.

Five academics present portraits of unknown, intimate and surprising aspects of Henry VIII

05Henry The Musician2009052920200103 (BBC7)
20200104 (BBC7)

In the final programme about hidden aspects of Henry VIII, marking the 500th anniversary of his coronation, Dr Stephen Rice, who researches and plays little-known renaissance music, investigates Henry VIII's musical abilties. Did he really compose 'Greensleeves' and other pieces 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 the Elizabeth Kenny, one of the UK's leading lutenists, and together they demonstrate how the repertoire reflects Henry's personal concerns, his poltical outlook, his religious convictions and his practical abilities as a musician and composer.

Dr Stephen Rice reveals the importance of music to the life and character of Henry VIII.

Five academics present portraits of unknown, intimate and surprising aspects of Henry VIII