From This Is North Devon:
IF YOU say Henry VIII to most people, the iconic image that is likely to spring to mind, will be the magnificent full-length portrait, painted by his contemporary Hans Holbein. In it, Henry looks impressive and imposing: jewels on his chest, codpiece thrusting forward, arms akimbo and his eyes glaring out of the canvas.
However, according to one leading Tudor historian, like many people across the ages, we have been bamboozled by this stunning image. Indeed, Derek Wilson from West Buckland goes so far as to say the portrait is probably the most effective piece of propaganda in the whole of English history.
“This is Henry as he wanted to be seen,” says the author.
“The reality was rather different. When that portrait was painted that apparently magnificent man was fat, balding and a semi invalid. He had just fairly narrowly survived a major rebellion in the country. He had been 28 years on the throne and he had no male heir. His own illegitimate son, his fall back heir, had just died. He was on his third wife and he was actually staring failure in the face.”
Henry, he contends, strikes that famous domineering pose to suggest he was a splendid and powerful king.
“This is not the case,” says Derek. “We have been deceived.”
In latest book on the Tudors, A Brief History of Henry VIII, Derek, puts forward the view that Henry VIII was a man who lived in the shadow of his own father. He was haunted by the achievements of Henry VII, a fine king who had established peace in the country after the Wars of the Roses. Henry VII won his crown in battle, saw off rebellions and was a man of considerable stature.
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