Monday, February 4, 2008
Henry VIII Part IV: The Magnificently Obese Years
Warning: This is the fourth and final installment in a series of posts telling the story of Henry VIII from the viewpoint of a historian with serious dain bramage. If you are scared - run on to a simpler post! If you ain't skeered then by all means indulge, but you should probably scroll down and read the previous three posts first so you can get caught up with meanderings of the now massive monarch.
In 1536 Henry had suffered a jousting accident, which caused severe damage and ulceration of his leg. During the last decade of his life Henry started to assume the appearance that we commonly associate him with, that of a rather roundish basketball of a man (see above for what Henry would have looked like if he were African-American). And like that rubbery round object, the king bounced back quickly from his disastrous fourth marriage to Anne of Cleavage. Within a month of their annulment, in fact, Hammerin' Hank was strolling up the aisle once more, this time accompanied by the luscious beauty Catherine Howard. Henry's luck with wives continued, though, and as it turned out, Cat (as I call her) was a complete whore. To be honest, she was a slut since she did not even charge money for her personal favors, which she gave out like candy to everyone at court from the highest lord to the lowest pissboy. Seriously, she went down like the cure to the plague was hidden in the shaft of each man with which she came in contact. Why anyone would be so brazenly whoretacular while married to a monarch who had already earned his merit badge for sadism is hard to fathom. Nymphomania is the obvious diagnosis. So after a couple years of head-bangin' behavior from the queen, Henry divorced and imprisoned her. One of her lovers was lucky enough to be drawn and quartered - which is a fun way of racing horses that I highly recommend! Several months later, after clearing it with Pope Henry, the king had Catherine executed as well. Reader's Note: I suggest listening to Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" now as it fits the moment quite well.
So those of you who can count to six will know that we have reached the final marriage of Henry's lengthy rule. Who would be the little lady earning the hand of the flabby, ulcer ridden, and delightfully flatulent king? Thomas Cranmer, who was now Henry's lead advisor (everyone else was dead) found the lucky piece of lass. Her name was Catherine Parr and she herself had already been betrothed two times. Both of her previous husbands had died and left her a widow. One would have thought that Henry might have seen a pattern here, but he was too busy being King of England, Wales, and Ireland, heading up the Anglican Church, and fighting random wars with those French pansies, to have any time left to remove his head from his own ass. Had he done so, he might have spotted the Black Widow effect Parr seemed to have on husbands before his own death in 1547. Why Henry died has been greatly debated. Syphillis, diabetes, and complications from his old leg injury have all been proposed as the possible culprit. Regardless of the truth, the old dirty bastard was dead and the son he had fought hard to bring into the world was now king.
So what did Henry VIII accomplish during his forty years on the English throne? The heir thing he was so obsessed with did not work out too well. His son, Edward VI, died only five short years after his father. His oldest daughter Mary, took over after Edward and also ruled only a short time. Her main accomplishment besides contributing to alcoholism was the execution of Archbishop Cranmer, the one person her father had forgotten to kill during his reign. The last of Henry's children to take the throne was Elizabeth and although she reigned for over forty years, she did not have any children. Hey she was the Virgin Queen, her odds were not too good. Her death in 1603 brought about the end of the Tudor dynasty.
Henry's major accomplishment was the creation of the Anglican Church, severing England's connection to the sun-worshiping, heathen papists in Rome. Also, according to Henry's Topps mass-murderer card, he is credited with a career total of 72,000 executions. Such a total insured him entrance on the first ballot into the Tyrant hall-of-fame. The six wives, too, are a record for an English monarch. What king would not be proud of the killin and lady drillin Henry got done during his reign?