Commemoration and celebration: why is Henry VIII celebrated 500 years after his accession?

Grafton, Rebecca (2009) Commemoration and celebration: why is Henry VIII celebrated 500 years after his accession? MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    Henry VIII is the English monarch everyone remembers, his life and deeds infamous. He is notorious. The Holbein portraits of the king make it impossible for us to forget him; his figure, shape and imposing nature. His deeds, the break with Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries and his six marriages are just as legendary.

    2009 saw the 500th anniversary of Henry’s accession in 1509 and the year saw numerous special events, exhibitions, lectures and television programmes. Henry is worth celebrating. The fundamental question is why? Why we are still fascinated with Henry 500 years after his accession, why do historians continue to study his reign and why is the media attracted to his character?

    Within Britain, there is a culture of celebration and commemoration, nearly every milestone is celebrated. The 2009 events for Henry VIII fit within this culture and within society’s need to have a sense of its history. History surrounds us and we want to understand it. To comprehend why we still study Henry 500 years on this study will look at academic historical works, film and television portrayals of the king and the 2009 events, to understand what it is that captivates us. Historians have a long and complex relationship with Henry VIII and the great events of his reign. In fact, commentaries on the period were written not long after his death. Some accounts on Henry are judgmental: accusations of tyranny surround him, but today historians attempt to represent the other Henry; the youthful king before his descent into tyranny. The exhibitions likewise portrayed the other side of Henry’s life and reign, actively trying to debunk myths about Henry. Film and television portrayals conform to stereotypes and perpetuate myths with few attempts to present Henry differently.

    Henry is remembered because of the great events and changes that have their foundations in his reign and their far reaching implications. Henry wanted to be immortal: 500 years on, he has clearly fulfilled this wish.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: ?? EDAM ??
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2011 16:54
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:17
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/1140

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