One of the greatest eras in English history was when the Tudors ruled England. Starting with King Henry VII’s coronation in 1485, this royal dynasty was responsible for bringing the Renaissance to England. Henry VII was succeeded by his second son, also named Henry, who became heir to the throne unexpectedly when his older brother died. King Henry VIII was crowned in 1509, at the age of 17, and reigned until 1547. He is renowned for his six marriages, particularly his first divorce which led to the English reformation and separated the Church of England from papal authority.
Heads will Roll
In his youth, Henry VIII could turn the head of any woman – chopping off heads came later! He was handsome and athletic, a skilful horseman who loved to hunt and joust. He was considered the most accomplished prince of his age with dancing, playing the lute, and composing music among his many talents. However, by the time he was 50, his waist had expanded to a button-bursting 56 inches. He suffered from gout and his legs were so ulcerated and painful that he was carried from room to room in a specially made chair.
What a king, what a man, what a lover!
The court painter, Hans Holbein, glossed over these ailments in his splendid portraits of the monarch, which inspired all the Royal Doulton figures. Art Director, Charles Noke, modeled his first figure of King Henry VIII in 1920 but only a few examples of this rare study have ever been found. Noke’s next portrait of the monarch stands astride the chopping block on which many of his subjects lost their lives, including two of his queens. King Henry VIIIHN1792was Royal Doulton’s first limited-edition figure. It was launched in 1933 and the edition of 200 figures was sold out by 1939. This portrait bears a striking resemblance to the actor Charles Laughton in his 1933 Oscar winning role in the Private Life of Henry VIII. What a king, what a man, what a lover screamed the adverts for this sensational movie which broke box office records in the USA.
Divorced or Died
The notorious lifestyle of Henry VIII and the fate of his six wives also inspired Royal Doulton’s best-selling Tudor collection by Pauline Parsons. Pauline modeled two magnificent portraits of the King. Her first depicts him hunting in his prime accompanied by a falcon and a faithful hound. King Henry VIII HN3350 was launched in 1991 to mark the 500th anniversary of the monarch’s birth and the edition of 1,991 figures quickly sold out. Three years later, Pauline modeled an older portrait of the king in a limited edition of 5,000 to accompany his six wives. Read about the fate of Henry’s Queens in Louise’s next article.
HN1792 Modeled by Charles J. Noke
Height: 11 ½ inches
1933 limited edition of 200
HN3350 Modeled by Pauline Parsons
Height: 9 ¼ inches
1991 limited edition of 1,991
HN3458 Modeled by Pauline Parsons
Height: 9 ¼ inches
1994 limited edition of 9,500
HN673 Modeled by Charles J. Noke
Height: 7 in