Unearthed drawing of a weeping young Henry VIII


Have we been painting Henry VIII in the wrong light? Famous ‘unfeeling’ womaniser was left ‘heartbroken’ by his mother’s death and ‘wept’ at her bedside, unearthed drawing reveals

  • Henry VIII was not unaffected by grief and left ‘heartbroken’ by mother’s death 
  • Captured ‘weeping’ at her bedside, according to new documentary about ruler
  • Henry VIII, which airs on Channel 5 at 9pm tonight, reveals unearthed drawing
  • It shows the royal’s emotional reaction to mother’s passing when he was just 10

He is known as one of England’s most fearsome monarchs and an ‘unfeeling’ single-minded ruler who had no qualms about divorcing two of his wives and even beheading a further two.

But Henry VIII was not unaffected by grief, having been left ‘heartbroken’ by his mother’s death as a child, according to a new documentary about the infamous Tudor autocrat.

Henry VIII, which airs on Channel 5 at 9pm tonight, reveals an unearthed drawing depicting the 10-year-old royal ‘weeping’ by his mother’s beside after her death.

Appearing on the programme, author and historian Lauren Johnson suggests the piece proves that the king, who ruled England for 36 years from 1509 until his death in 1547, wasn’t without emotions despite what is often believed. 

  

Henry VIII was not unaffected by grief, having been left ‘heartbroken’ by his mother’s death as a child, according to a new documentary about the infamous Tudor autocrat which airs tonight on Channel 5 at 9pm 

According to Lauren, Henry VIII was ‘unusually close to his mother’, in part because he was largely ignored by his father, who did not pay attention to him because he was not the heir to the throne.

Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales was the first born child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York and the elder brother of Henry VIII, but he died of a mysterious illness when he was 15. 

Lauren explains: ‘[Henry VIII’s] mother seems to have taken a real care for the education of her son.

‘For a royal princess to grow up in this sort of environment wasn’t that unusual, for a royal prince however it was a little bit strange.

Henry VIII, which airs on Channel 5 at 9pm tonight, reveals an unearthed drawing (above) depicting the royal's emotional reaction to his mother's passing when he was just 10 years old

Henry VIII, which airs on Channel 5 at 9pm tonight, reveals an unearthed drawing (above) depicting the royal’s emotional reaction to his mother’s passing when he was just 10 years old

‘It just goes to show how unimportant Henry was really in the line of succession.’

However, when the future monarch was just 10 years old, his older brother unexpectedly died, leaving him as heir to the throne.

To make matters worse, his mother died just months later. 

The programme reveals a painting depicting the ruler shortly after his beloved parent’s passing.  

Appearing on the programme, author and historian Lauren Johnson suggests the piece proves that the king (above), who ruled England for 36 years from 1509 until his death in 1547, wasn't without emotions despite what is often believed

Appearing on the programme, author and historian Lauren Johnson suggests the piece proves that the king (above), who ruled England for 36 years from 1509 until his death in 1547, wasn’t without emotions despite what is often believed

Lauren says: ‘Recently this remarkable survival from Henry’s childhood has been revealed to us and it’s incredibly exciting.

‘For a long time it was just thought this was any old page in a illuminated manuscript but when we look behind this figure of Henry VII, there we see Henry VIII, which he later became, as just a boy.

‘This weeping child on the edge of an empty bed of that of his mother. He can’t contain his emotions – his head is thrown into his hands in despair.’

The historian adds: ‘We imagine Henry VIII being as someone that maybe didn’t feel emotion, who wasn’t affected by grief, but we can see in the reaction to his mother’s death that it really broke his heart. 

‘He was now the heir to the throne and he didn’t have his mother to guide him.

‘He instead had a very different figure, his father, a very problematic figure, to try and move him into this new phase of his life and I don’t think that made it any easier for him.’

WHO WAS HENRY VIII? 

Henry VIII was a domineering king who broke with Rome and changed the course of England’s cultural history.

His predecessors had tried and failed to conquer France, and even Henry himself mounted two expensive, yet unsuccessful attempts.

He was known to self-medicate, even going as far as making his own medicines.

A record on a prescription for ulcer treatment in the British Museum reads: ‘An Oyntment devised by the kinges Majesty made at Westminster, and devised at Grenwich to take away inflammations and to cease payne and heale ulcers called gray plaster’.

The king was also a musician and composer, owning 78 flutes, 78 recorders, five bagpipes, and has since had his songs covered by Jethro Tull.

He died while heavily in debt, after having such a lavish lifestyle that he spent far more than taxes would earn him.

He possessed the largest tapestry collection ever documented, and 6,500 pistols. While most portraits show him as a slight man, he was in later life very large, with one observer calling him ‘an absolute monster’.

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