Who would you commission to produce an in-depth documentary on England's most notorious king? Obviously the world's leading authority on Henry VIII. David Starkey has produced a slew of publications on the man, including "Six Wives: The Queens Of Henry VIII". Here, the first two get the lion's share of attention as Starkey focuses on the young Henry, in particular his transformation from a cultured, idealistic, even benevolent ruler into the man who swept away all the liberties wrested from the Crown by the signing of the "Magna Carta", set up his own church, tyrannised his subjects, and murdered two of his wives including the mother of his daughter and heir.
Starkey is the only academic to appear in this programme, but a host of thespians are recruited to bring Henry and his court to life. It is clear that his first wife Catherine of Aragon was more than his equal, and if she had been able to give him the son he craved the entire course of English indeed world history would have been very different.
The one thing missing from this programme is Henry's greatest gift, "Paſtyme wt good 9panye" as they say in Olde Englishe. One wonders what he would have made of the fact that 5 centuries after his death he is remembered first and foremost as an imposing tyrant and only en passant as a fine songwriter.
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