Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant (TV Series 2009– ) Poster

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8/10
Tyrant or Tortured?
parsifalssister3 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A well researched documentary by British historian, David Starkey, in four episodes, outlines Henry VIII's early life, growing maturity, love(s) and aging tyranny. It makes good use of extant documents in European libraries, most especially in Britain that shed light on Henry's interests, obsessions, upbringing and political affairs. It brings into sharp contrast the second son's education in 16th century England to the first, and where it can or may have played no little role in Henry's adulthood.

While the emphasis is on Henry VIII, his associates and family members proved so essential within his realm, Starkey elucidates, to some measure, their history with regards to the King, and how they informed the reign, in particular, his father and mother, and court counsellors.

The documentary draws no specific conclusion regarding the mind of Henry, called tyrant, but rather searches for how a man described by Sir Thomas More as "perfect" could develop into a ruler with little restraint and often callous disregard for life or limb, in both the literal or figurative sense.

Some blame Henry's second wife, Anne Boleyn; others challenge Katherine of Aragon's persistent refusal of Henry's entreaties to give up her wifely and queenly titles, and others still blame one or another of the King's advisors: Wolsey, Cromwell, More or even the Duke of Suffolk, a childhood friend.

But in the end, none of us know what motivates the other, and even with the exhaustive research of a seasoned historian, Starkey makes it no clearer how the sensitive King of 1509 who wrote poetry and songs, laughed, loved and inspired, became one of England's most ruthless monarchs.

This failure does not detract from the documentary, but rather makes for more inquiry or self examination of individual temperament.
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9/10
Henry VIII: Mind Of A Tyrant
a_baron8 September 2014
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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