Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Five hundred years

Five hundred years ago today, (April 21, 1509) Henry VIII acceded to the throne of England. He was seventeen years old. His coronation was held on June 23, 1509 at Westminster Abbey. By then, he had been married to Katharine of Aragon, the young widow of his brother Arthur, for nearly two weeks.

The couple had been betrothed for several years. Their wedding was originally to take place June 28, 1505, Henry's fifteenth birthday, but squabbles over Katharine's dowry, as well as the legal impediment created by her former marriage to Henry's brother, delayed the wedding until Henry's father, Henry VII, died suddenly in 1509. On his father's death, Henry immediately announced his plan to marry Katharine and make her Queen of England.

Henry had been kept in seclusion for years, due to concerns for his health. English history.net says "After years of being shut away from the world, he was now king. All of the boundless energy and enthusiasm of his character was unleashed." For her part, Katharine had spent seven years in England after the death of her first husband, while she awaited a resolution of the dispute between the rulers of England and Spain. During those years, she was poor. She lacked money for clothing or adequate food. I would speculate that her wedding to Henry VIII was a very jolly occasion, indeed.

It appears that in the beginning, the marriage was a happy one. Just few years later, a Venetian diplomat described Henry as follows:

His Majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion very fair and bright, auburn hair combed straight and short, in the French fashion, and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman, his throat being rather long and thick.... He will enter his twenty-fifth year the month after next. He speaks French, English and Latin, and a little Italian, plays well on the lute and harpsichord, sings from book at sight, draws the bow with greater strength than any man in England and jousts marvelously.... a most accomplished Prince. the Venetian diplomat Pasqualigo in a dispatch, 1515 quoted here. (Ref: Wikipedia)

Accomplished, yes - but I was surprised to read that Henry was not as accomplished as I had always thought, at least in one respect. According to Alison Weir, as referenced in Wikipedia, Henry did not compose Greensleeves. For me, that was like learning that there is no Santa Claus.

However, Henry did compose songs and write poetry. Here is an example, titled "Though Some Sayeth Youth Ruled Me". I found the verse at this site , and I offer it as my personal choice for Poem of the Day:

Portrait of King Henry VIII

"Though some saith youth ruled me"
By Henry VIII


Though sum saith that yough rulyth me
I trust i~ age to tarry
god and my ryght & my dewtye
frome them shall I neuer vary
thow sum say yt yough rulith me[!]

Thowgh su~ say þt youth rulyth me
I trust in age for to tarry
god & my ryght and my dewte
from the~ shall || neuer vary[!]
thow su~ say yt youth rulith me.

I pray you all that aged be,
how well dyd ye yor yough carry[?]
I thynk su~ wars of yeh degre.
Ther in a wager lay dar I,
though su~ sayth &c.

Though su~ sayth yt yough rulyth me
I trust i~ age for to tarry,
god & my ryght & my dewte
frome them shall I neuer vary
thow su~ sayth yt yough rulyth me.

Pastymes of yough su~ tyme a mong
none can sey but necessary
I hurt no man I do no wrong
I loue trew when I dyd mary
Though su~ sayth . vt . svpra.

Pastymes of yough su~ tyme a monge
none can say but necessary
I hurt no man I do no wrong
I loue trew wher I dyd mary
Thow su~ saith . vt . svpra.

Then sone dyscusse that hens we must
pray we to god and seynt mary.
That all amend & here an end.
Thus sayth the kyng the . VIIIth . harry [:]
though su~.

I hurt no man I do no wronge
I loue trewly wher I dyd mary.
Thow su~ [&c.].

Wülker, Richard Paul. Anglia. Vol XII.
Halle: Max Niemeyer, 1889. 246-7.


Though some saith that youth ruleth me,
I trust in age to tarry.
God and my right and my duty,
From them I shall never vary,
Though some say that youth ruleth me!

I pray you all that aged be,
How well did ye your youth carry?
I think some worse, of each degree:
Therein a wager lay dare I,
Though some saith that youth ruleth me.

Pastimes of youth sometime among,
None can say but necessary.
I hurt no man, I do no wrong,
I love true where I did marry,
Though some saith that youth ruleth me.

Then soon discuss that hence we must:
Pray we to God and Saint Mary,
That all amend, and here an end,
Thus saith the king, the eighth Harry,
Though some saith that youth ruleth me.


Reya Mellicker said...

Great! Thank you.

Did you know that today is Queen Elizabeth's birthday?

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh that language!

John Hayes said...

Well I'm kind of disappointed about Greensleeves, too. In other Tudor poetic trivia-- did you know that Sir Thomas Wyatt is thought to have written "They Flee from Me that sometime did me seek...." etc. for Anne Boleyn?

Sandra Leigh said...

Reya - You're welcome - and no, I didn't. Some Canadian I am.

Kathryn - Can you imagine Elizabethan text messages?

John - again, no. My ignorance of history is boundless. I'll look it up.

Blog Archive