‘Canceling Henry VIII.’ And ‘The Myth of ‘Bloody Mary’

Joseph Pearce and Linda Porter.

Canceling Henry VIII.

by Joseph Peace.
Catholic World Report.

“Times change. A century ago, Henry VIII was lionized as an English patriotic icon and as one of the truly great men of history. He was praised for being highly cultured and for his love of music, and was credited with writing the popular folk tune, “Greensleeves”. He was a strong leader who had not only founded the Royal Navy but had laid the foundations for the English nation and therefore the British Empire. With respect to the way he treated his wives, he was considered a “lady’s man”!

And, of course, he was to be praised for liberating England from the Catholic Church.

Today, Henry VIII is apparently a pariah who is unmentionable. This was evident in the decision by the BBC to cancel him from an eight-part television series on the history of British art. The plan had been to invite discussion of a work of art, Field of the Cloth of Gold, which depicts the Tudor monarch, dressed in a resplendent gown woven with gold and silver thread, riding to meet the French king, Francis I in 1520. The contemporary artist, Jeremy Deller, was invited to offer commentary on the painting but refused on the grounds that Henry VIII was one of the worst people in British culture, employing a less than charming or eloquent expletive to accentuate his point. “I despise him,” Mr. Deller added.

To Mr. Deller’s credit, he gave Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries as a principal reason for his low opinion of the Tudor tyrant. “He’s an iconoclast fundamentalist,” Mr. Deller explained, “just a horrible, horrible person.”

There can be no denying that Henry VIII was indeed “a horrible, horrible person” and Mr. Deller’s disdain for him is much healthier than British imperialism’s “patriotic” lionizing of him. His view is in keeping with the judgment of Hilaire Belloc. “Henry ruled by terror during all the later part of his life,” Belloc wrote. “Men yielded to new and dreadful powers abominably exercised for coercion, and very nearly all – all save a handful of heroic monks and the two shining examples of Fisher and More – became abject.” William Cobbett was even more vociferous in his condemnation of Henry’s reign:

[A]ll law and justice were laid prostrate at the feet of a single man, and that man a man with whom law was a mockery, on whom the name of justice was a libel, and to whom mercy was wholly unknown. But…

Read it all at Catholic World Report

What began in Henry’s restless mind and cod was far more a subversive metaphysical and Civil War than a war of religion.

The Myth of Bloody Mary

About the Author

Linda Porter has a Ph.D. in history from the University of York, England. She was the winner of the 2004 Biographers Club/Daily Mail prize in England and is the author of The Myth of “Bloody Mary”, also available from St. Martin’s Press. She is married with one daughter and lives near London.

Product Description

It is the tragedy of Queen Mary that today, 450 years after her death, she remains the most hated, least understood monarch in English history―remembered best for burning hundreds of Protestant heretics at the stake. Linda Porter’s pioneering new biography cuts through the myths to reveal the truth about the first queen to rule England in her own right. Daughter of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, Mary Tudor was a cultured Renaissance princess who was brought to the throne by an audacious coup. She made a grand marriage to Philip of Spain, but her attempts to revitalize England at home and abroad were cut short by her early death at the age of forty-two. The first popular biography of Mary in thirty years, The Myth of “Bloody Mary” offers a fascinating, controversial look at this much-maligned queen.

A reviewer at Amazon writes, “…About her “bloodiness” — I was compelled to make a quick comparison of how many heads were chopped off, how many hangings and quarterings, and burnings at the stake were brought about by her father — the real lunatic tyrant, Henry VIII. And, of course, Mary’s sister, the illustrious queen Elizabeth I, was even more bloody. I invite other readers to do a little more research on the topic. Try it. It’s an eye-opener. In the meantime “The First Queen of England” is a marvelous read. Five stars! The Myth of “Bloody Mary”: A Biography of Queen Mary I of England by Linda Porter—- Graciela Limon, Amazon review

“Porter champions her subject with sturdy determination and fixed focus . . . [and] properly accentuates this much-maligned queen’s achievements.” ―Kirkus Review

“[An] intelligent, engrossing biography.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A richly researched, marvelously realized historical biography.” ―Daily Telegraph (UK)

“Porter brings clarity to complex issues and paints a vivid portrait of Tudor court life.” ―Associated Press (UK)

“This well-researched biography is written in an easy, readable style.” ―Record-Courier (Ravenna, Ohio)

“This well-researched biography about “Bloody” Mary is fascinating. I loved the way the author shattered the misconceptions we have of her.” ―Women’s Own (UK)