Heritage

The Secret Death of Henry VIII's Father, King Henry VII

The first Tudor monarch's death was hidden for days before Henry VIII was proclaimed king.
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King Henry VII may not be the most iconic Henry on The Spanish Princess—that honor goes to his youngest son, Henry VIII, whose historical shadow looms large over English history to this day—but the monarch still made a huge impact on England and Europe and his death paved the way to one of the most famous royal reigns of all time.

How is Henry and why was his passing so important? We've got everything you need to know.

HENRY VII WAS THE FIRST TUDOR KING.

Born in 1457, to Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor became, through his mother's side of the family, the leading claimant to the Lancastrian throne during the English civil war known as the War of the Roses. Having spent most of his young adulthood in exile in France to evade assassination plots against him, Henry finally won the throne at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, becoming the first king of the Tudor dynasty at the age of 28.

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After ascending the throne, Henry married to Elizabeth of York, the eldest daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, consequently uniting the two sides from the War of the Roses (York and Lancaster) into a single house. With Elizabeth, Henry fathered four surviving children: Arthur, Prince of Wales, Margaret, Queen of Scots, the future King Henry VIII, and Mary (who briefly became Queen of France.)

He reigned for 24 years, surviving his eldest son as well as his wife, before ultimately passing away.


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King Henry VII (Elliot Cowan), Margaret Beaufort (Harriet Walter), and Prince Henry (Ruairi O'Connor) in the Spanish Princess.

HE DIED AT AGE 52.

Henry VII fell ill at some time in late 1508, and in February of 1509 traveled to Richmond Palace, south of London. While it's not clear if he was aware of the severity of his health issues, he did reportedly stop receiving visitors on state business after his move and seems to have undergone a steady decline.

By late April, it was obvious to those close to the king that death was approaching and Henry received Sacraments in keeping with his Catholic faith. According to writings by John Fisher, confessor to Henry's mother, who attended the king in his final hours, he received them with "a marvellous compassion and flow of tears" and "many knockings and beatings of his breast" when the monstrance, a type of religious vessel used in the Sacrament, was brought before him.

Henry VII died on April 21, 1509, though some sources argue the possibility that the king passed on April 22 instead. The confusion come in part due to the fact that news of the secluded king's death was hidden until April 23, when the new King Henry VIII was informed and officially proclaimed king.

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WHAT DID HENRY VII DIE OF?

Evidence from the time suggests that Henry VII died of tuberculosis. Particularly considering the long, wasting trajectory of the disease, this is the generally accepted conclusion by scholars, however, as is the case with many historical deaths, limited concrete evidence remains.


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King Henry VII died in 1509, making Henry VIII King of England.

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER HIS DEATH?

Though in the later years of his life Henry VII had seemed conflicted about the possibility of his remaining son, Henry VIII, marrying Catherine of Aragon, the widow of Prince Arthur, (the king had sought a papal dispensation to allow Henry VIII to take Catherine as a bride—they were, in the eyes of the Catholic church, brother and sister as a consequence of her marriage to Arthur—but had also explored the possibility of marrying Catherine himself) Henry VIII did go on to wed Catherine, making her the first of his six wives.

Interestingly, Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, who was famously close with the king and carried great influence in his court, passed away on June 29 of that same year, just over two months after the death of her son and one day after her grandson, King Henry VIII's 18th birthday.

*This article originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com

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*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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Lauren Hubbard
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