Henry VIII The Mind of a Tyrant (4/4) 2009 04 27 Ch 4
Episode 4 | Tyrant (1533-1547)
The final programme in the series examines how Henry, having inherited a chronically weak English crown, forged it into an instrument of unprecedented power, and then wielded it to change forever the nature of England and the English.
The courtiers who had helped Cromwell dispatch Anne Boleyn hoped that the schism with Rome would now be reversed. They were soon disappointed. The destruction of the monasteries proceeded apace, with the loot flowing into Henry's coffers.
But such unprecedented actions caused isolation abroad and rebellion at home. Henry's response showed him at his most duplicitous and ruthless. He lured the rebels' leader to London with the promise of talks and then had him hung, drawn and quartered.
Meanwhile, Henry's private life was hardly less turbulent. The death of Jane Seymour robbed him of someone he was genuinely fond of, and who had given him the male heir he craved. His marriage to Katherine Howard briefly rekindled the flames of desire, but her adultery (real, this time) made her another victim of court intrigue.
David Starkey's archival research has revealed the full story behind her tragic fate. But as Henry grew older, more ill and more dangerous to all around him, he was busy forging a fiercely independent England, where coastal fortifications and an expanding Tudor navy gave tangible expression to a new sense of national destiny.