The Life and Times of Henry VIII Essay

This essay has a total of 1028 words and 5 pages.

The Life and Times of Henry VIII



Book Review
Robert Lacey’s The Life and Times of Henry VIII was first published and copyrighted in
1972 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson. This most recent edition was published by Welcome Rain in
1998, though Weidenfeld and Nicolson still hold copyright privileges. Lacey, a former
scholar at Bristol Grammar School and Selwyn College at Cambridge, is most noted as a
historical novelist. More of his works include Robert, Earl of Essex, an Elizabethan
Icarus and the internationally renowned biography of Elizabeth II, Majesty.

The Life and Times of Henry VIII is a biographical work concerning the life of the most
infamous, yet well respected King of England. The third child of King Henry VII was not
expected to become king, but Henry VIII was known for his wisdom and strength from a very
young age. Sir Thomas More compared the young King to the king of beasts, “If a lion knew
his strength, it were hard for any man to hold him.” Lacey never loses sight of the great
king’s majestic character in this biography that depicts Henry VIII ’s role as the “lion”
that stood in the center of changing England during the early 16th century. The Life and
Times of Henry VIII explores Henry VIII ’s pursuit for the throne, his historically
infamous actions there, and his active role in the English reformation. Lacey hails Henry
VIII as an admirable leader, despite his controversial lifestyle and political endeavors.
With the future of the monarchy at stake, the king’s actions are not only excused but many
of his decisions are deemed imperative.

A changing world welcomed religious reformation during the sixteenth century. The
teachings of Martin Luther spread rapidly; many had hoped to renew religion as Europe saw
it. England, too, was ready for change. However, Henry VIII brought reformation to
England for personal gain. Lacey insinuates that the king was well within his right to
take control and establish himself head of church and state. Despite Henry’s previous
support in the defending of and providing for the Papal position in England, he found the
power of the church to greatly rival that of his own. The Catholic Church, as a whole,
threatened the English succession of the monarchy. Lacey portrays the king’s tyrannical
approach to religious reform as little more than an attempt to harness the loyalty of his
subjects away from the pope, and direct it toward the crown.

While the author notes the vigorous and lavish lifestyle led by Henry VIII, the king’s
life is downplayed to chronological historical information. While a many of his subjects
became scornful toward the king’s often cruel and bullish tactics in enforcing his
political intentions upon the religious right of the people, very few were so bold as to
challenge him. King Henry VIII had truly instilled loyalty and devotion into the hearts
of his subjects; by bringing the English monarchy to the pinnacle of its arbitrary power.

Lacey believes Henry VIII to have been a remarkable leader. He supports that decisions of
the king should not be questioned. Henry VIII was the King of England who achieved his
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