520 years is a big number, so let’s start the party early! Tomorrow, 28 June, marks the 520th anniversary of Henry VIII’s birth. What we have to remember is that his older brother, Arthur, was the boy upon whose shoulders the Tudor future rested. Little Henry was simply “the spare.” The above sketch was made when the boy was but two years old.
Although he wasn’t groomed to be king, he collected quite a few titles before the age of four: Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Duke of York, Knight of the Garter, All-Around Lovely Chap.
His education was well-rounded; the kid was immersed in the classics, maths, reading, writing, and French. Music was his forte, one that would follow him to adulthood. (But no, he probably didn’t write “Greensleeves.“) Tennis, archery, jousting, fencing, wrestling … there was no shortage of physical activity for the little prince.
Who knew that the spare would not only step up to the plate when the heir dropped out, he would also rock the monarchy (and the institution of marriage) in an unprecented way? But for now, let’s think back to a more innocent time, when Henry VIII: Tyrant / Serial Husband / Big-Boned Gastronome was merely an adored little newborn in the royal Tudor household.