Monday, October 11, 2021

Question from Anonymous - Books Henry VIII may have read

I am looking to read the books Henry VIII is likely to have read. Is there a list anywhere or any information on which books he read? Thank you.

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

Whether or not Henry VIII was as intellectually active as sometimes claimed and whether or not he actually read books with any regularity (as opposed to hunting, jousting, and generally engaging in non-sedentary recreational pursuits) is a matter of considerable scholarly debate. Nonetheless, an inventory dated 1542 and taken of the Upper Library at Whitehall Palace survives to reveal the 910 titles in royal possession there at that time. It must be remembered, however, that the royal library was amassed by royal servants acting over the course of several reigns rather than by Henry VIII himself, so it is not possible to know whether or not Henry VIII actually read any of the books in that library or even knew that they were in the royal library. Many of the volumes were requisitioned from dissolved monasteries, for example. Regrettably, the inventory of 1542 has never been made readily available without charge but must instead be found via one of the many printed and published versions or payment of a (sometimes quite large) fee to access online versions. The original manuscript inventory, compiled by Anthony Denny, is held at the National Archives at Kew under reference code E315/160.