Monday, 10 June 2013

Historical novelist Paul Doherty questions how Henry VIII died

Historical novelist Dr Paul Doherty has claimed that Henry VIII may have been left to die by his own courtiers.

Launching his 100th book “The Last of Days” at Trinity Catholic High School, where he is headmaster, Dr Doherty outlined the life of “one of England’s greatest tyrants.”

The ”Last of Days” focuses on the final three months of Henry VIII’s reign as seen through the eyes of court jester Will Somers . The jester chronicles the battles between power hungry councillors as to who will come out on top come the inevitable death of Henry.

Dr Doherty told of some of the characters around Henry in his dying days. The Howard family played a big role, being in conflict with Henry VIII for much of his reign. John Howard had died alongside Richard III at Bosworth fighting against Henry VII. His grandson Thomas was subsequently sent to the Tower but later released, whereupon he distinguished himself fighting against the Scots.

There was conflict though not least via the Howard women, Ann Boleyn and Katherine Howard who were both found to be traitors by Henry. Thomas Howard also plotted against the King’s advisors like Thomas Cromwell. “Thomas Howard, the third Duke of Norfolk orchestrated the fall of Cromwell. Henry Howard, his son, was a brilliant soldier but arrogant,” said Dr Doherty, who also told of the court roles of Edward and Thomas Seymour, who owed their position in the court to sister Jane who had provided Henry’s only male heir.

Dr Doherty believes that in his last days there was probably a final move planned against his courtiers and his last wife Katharine Parr. It was at this time that Henry may have been helped on his way to death.

Dr Doherty’s evidence for Henry VIII’s unfortunate end was that the body was supposed to have been disembowelled and embalmed, then put into a lead casket and Elmwood coffin. He died on 28 January 1547 and was buried on 13 February. “The body exploded whilst in waiting, with dogs eating some of the remnants over night,” said Dr Doherty, who explained how since the death Henry’s coffin has been disinterred and found to have ruptured.

None of this should have happened if the body had been embalmed and treated properly. Dr Doherty suggested Henry may have suffocated or just been left to die and then stuffed into the casket and coffin.

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