Sunday, March 29, 2009

Question from Ian - Henry VIII's grave

Why is there no memorial except a slab on the floor at St Georges Chapel, Windsor for Henry V111.? It seems odd that Henry V11, Elizabeth 1st and even Mary Queen of Scots had grand effigy's. Even his grandfather Edward 1V had a great memorial. A slab on the floor seems odd considering for someone who had such a prolific profile and rule.?

5 comments:

Elizabeth M. said...

Henry had plans for a great memorial to built for is grave. It was never done. Sad.

Dana said...

In his book "The Last Days of Henry VIII", Robert Hutchinson provides the most comprehensive answer to your question. Since it spans 14 pages, I'll summarize it here. Henry began plans for his tomb as early as 1518, with Cardinal Wolsey heading up the project. His fall meant the project was passed on to Thomas Cromwell who, himself, fell from power. The last years of this king were marked by wars in France & Scotland and a bankrupt treasury. Therefore little work was done. Henry was buried at Windsor with his third wife, Jane Seymour, but none of his three heirs had the means nor the drive, it seems, to bring the project to its conclusion. By the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the tomb had eight grand pillars of brass, with the tomb itself made of black and white marble. During the Protectorship of Lord Cromwell, the tomb was damaged and defiled. Four of the brass candlesicks fond their way to the Cathedral of St. Bavo in Ghent, Belgium. The crypt was also opened further times to accept the burials of Charles I, a stillborn child of Queen Anne, and at the order of the Prince Regent (later George IV). It was the latter who finally commissioned the brass-letter inscription we see today.

PhD Historian said...

The explanation offered by Dana from Robert Hutchinson's book makes perfect sense. But I have to wonder if it leaves out a few important elements, especially the nature of what Dana calls "drive."

Henry's immediate successor, Edward VI, went to great lengths to alter the English church along Swiss and German reformist evangelical lines. Iconoclasm, or the destruction of images within churches, was a large part of the reformation program. Edward and some of his bishops had statues removed, wall murals painted over, and altar fixtures taken down. Edward was of the same mind as Oliver Cromwell in this regard. It therefore seems logical to me that he and his councilors chose not to continue any plans for a grand tomb for Henry. Grand tombs were probably thought too reminiscent of Roman Catholic practice and tradition.

And as was noted in a previous thread on Mary and Elizabeth's tomb, successors often took minimal interest in memorializing their predecessors, preferring instead to concentrate on promoting their own reign. And considering how Henry treated both Mary and Elizabeth during his lifetime, I cannot imagine that either woman was particularly keen to spend any money on building a tomb and enhancing thereby their father's posthumous image.

Anonymous said...

if grand tomb thought to be reminiscent of roman catholic tradition. why is there so many in westminster abbey after his death.our nation should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

A slab is more than enough for such scum. I'd dig it up smash the slab to dust and also throw the contents in the river.